One of the best ways to prepare for a race is to pre-ride the course, which allows the riders to get a real feel for the corners, the climbs, the pace and to know how their bodies might feel. This helps them to feel confident at the start line as they know the course inside out and there aren’t going to be any big surprises on the course. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible and from a sport psychology perspective I understand the importance of having riders who feel confident on the start line.
So how do I help the riders feel confident? I get creative.
I use google maps, veloviewer and video recordings to help show the athletes what to expect. Below are some examples of the information I give the riders. These examples all look at the Cote d’Ereffe, the first climb on the females Flèche Wallonne.
These images and videos allow the riders see the climbs, the recovery points and to plan for where they need to be positioned at particular corners. So when they begin these climbs during the race they know exactly what to expect and are able to take advantage of any opportunities that might present themselves.
But all the videos and maps can’t replicate the feeling of riding the climbs so I go one step further. I use the videos to familiarise the riders with the climbs and then use Motivational General-Mastery imagery techniques to help them feel the climbs. This imagery also allows me to really prepare the riders for any eventuality as the riders have to imagine themselves feeling the burn in their legs but staying calm, resilient, determined and picturing themselves cycling strongly up the climb. This means that should the situation arise during the race there is no panic and they have a sense of confidence that they can overcome the challenge.
As we progress through the season, the races begin to present different challenges for our riders but I am determined to ensure that they will always be prepared for any situation that they might face during a race.