Coaching Skills: Let's Try It on Cycling!

Keep pedaling! Keep pedaling! That was the most important direction I gave a friend who asked me to coach her on how to ride a bike. She is in her mid 40s and wanted to experience the adventure of riding a bike for the first time!

I love cycling and although I have coached people before on project management and on salsa dancing, never done it for this particular activity. I said yes because I believed I could transfer my coaching strategies to cycling. It was- and still is- an experience with a lot of stories that well never forget.

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Coaching strategy #1: Observation and Assessment

Her goal; to explore the beautiful scenery of San Francisco Bay Area by taking on a challenge that most people at her age would not even try. It was her enthusiasm and courage what motivated me to take on the challenge on coaching her!

On the first day I assumed that she had a very basic idea on at least how to get on the bike, grab the handlebars and keep a little bit of a balance because I thought she mentioned she did it once when she was a child. I asked her How do you feel about going on this route in the park? She said, yes, let's do it! Oh, the expectations.

Ok, let's get on the bike. I was behind her on my bike when I see her getting out of the bike lane and moving towards a car! No control at all! I almost had a heart attack! The face of the driver was something, most probably he was not expecting a grown up to go in the middle of the street like that! And my friend, she had no clue why that happened!

Safety and basic skills became a top priority and we found an empty parking lot for her to move randomly in zig zags like a little kid and without potential hazards.

Putting myself on her place was key to success; by observing every single movement and open communication it resulted an incremental coaching plan that worked great!

Coaching strategy #2: Take Small Steps and Measure

Get on the bike, breathe, relax, feel how your feet, hands and whole body have the power to control these 2 wheelsYou control the bike not the other way around I said to her as we started the first exercise at the parking lot. Skills we're needed but emotional factors we're equally important.

Now, try to go from point A to B: start pedaling, do not stop to keep balance, use the brakes to stop not your feet. I constantly repeated those 3 things for 2 hours while watching her gaining more confidence.

We communicated and laughed a lot while practicing the exercise because conversations helped her to focus on the task in a more intuitive way by not focusing on her fears. We took each obstacle as an opportunity to observe what went wrong and improve it. Her fear of falling was overcame by the idea that it was a normal part of the learning process, not a failure. Anyways, it was something to be kept between us, nobody else was watching!

Step by step, for the following 3 sessions she was already learning how to keep control in different types of environments like unpaved trails, uphill and downhill (low incline). She liked so much going downhill that it included her first fall and ended up all covered in dirt, just like a little kid!

After her progress by session 4, we went for the bike lanes in low traffic streets at Golden Gate Park. Keep closer to the curb I was constantly reminding her while escorting in the back. Bike lanes we're not as easy as it seems because she had to multitask in managing alignment to the right, stop while pedestrians or cars we're crossing, and the fact that she had to ride in the same direction as cars being the sound the leading indicator that a car was coming.

We continued to do a small step at a time and have fun once a week for 2 hours, 3 months.

Coaching strategy #3: Review and Celebrate

I took note and shared with her all the small steps accomplished and built the next session based on areas for improvement or acquisition of new skills. We also celebrated the emotional accomplishments at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of each session.

Being ready for a new route, a new experience, pushing our limits was a great incentive for both of us. The smile on her face was priceless when we first explored most of the park in our bikes and went outside Golden Gate Park to ride 7 miles along Ocean Beach.

Her progress?

In January, the adventurous lady went with 20 miles on the Bay Trail (East Bay) and this month she did 15 miles on the hilly and beautiful route of San Francisco to Mill Valley!

The reward

My biggest reward has been to contribute to happiness of a friend. Sharing something that I enjoy and being able to transfer the coaching strategies of Observation, Small Steps, and Review and Celebrate to a new area.

She is now living her dream thanks to the courage and determination to manage a bike, with herself as "the engine".!!!

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Posted in Personal Development Post Date 06/09/2016






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