Hi everyone, I am Louis, a former journalist, portrait-photographer-turned-cycling-coach. Thank you Cycling Malaysia for giving me the honour of penning a monthly column. I’ll share stories and experiences in coaching and hopefully, they will encourage, inspire and motivate all of us to press ahead – on and off the bike.
I am a newbie coach with Sabah Sports Council. Started part-time in January 2017 before I turned full time a year later, obtaining UCI level 1 and 2 coaching certification along the way. I gave up my photography business of 12 years to pursue coaching.
“Don’t you just cycle faster automatically? Why do you need a coach?” someone asked. Few see what a cycling coach does; fewer understand what we do.
While the work week starts on Monday, planning starts earlier. On Friday, I plan a training timetable for the next week based on the team’s periodization phase. Our athletes are 16 to 18 year-olds who juggle with school commitments, live in different areas, attend different schools, adhere to different exam schedules. The training timetable is our fitness blueprint for the week and it takes me about two days of consulting the athletes and tweaking before it’s published. This process is repeated every week.
Just showing up for training, half the battle is already won – for coaches and athletes. TrainerRoad, Zwift and online training programs are fine self-training tools, but there is no replacement for the observation and encouragement of a coach. Yes, it is great to be able to do 3 x 10’ FTP efforts on Zwift.
However, a coach can challenge you to increase your cadence to 110rpm, provide video analysis of your techniques, pull you aside to straighten a rotten attitude or scale back your training because you’re showing signs of burnout.
The biggest difference between TrainerRoad and Zwift and what I do is long-term athlete development and personal attention. Six days a week over two years, we develop insights into each athlete: what makes them tick, their strengths and weaknesses, their physiological profile, their emotional and intellectual maturity.
“Coach, I want to make it to a local pro team,” one athlete told me. So I find out the watts/kg requirement and the tryout time, customize a training program, manage his weight. “I will do everything I can to help you achieve your dream,” I assured him.
In the last 20 months, I’ve learned a coach is a father to kids whose parents are not around, the emergency first responder to a crash, the ambulance/bus driver, the guardian waiting anxiously for an MRI scan, the counselor who persuade kids not to quit school or their dreams, the friend for a teary-eyed kid who just lost a race, the disciplinarian who uphold the law even when it hurts you to do so, the financier when there’s no other way, the defender of the powerless.
I coach not because I am paid to, but because I love to. I don’t always live up to these lofty standards but I wake up each morning wanting to see my team touch the clouds. That’s why I coach.
About the Author
Louis is a certified UCI level 2 coach working full time for Sabah Sports Council. He is a firm believer in science and data collection in sports. When he is not coaching, he tries to catch up on sleep, read a book or binge watch TV series.
He can be reached at:
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org