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Pacific Cycling Centre (PCC) is excited to announce that it is now offering a PCC Coach Mentorship Program to coaches. This program is aimed to assist the development and the personal and professional growth of a mentee coach who wants to take his/her knowledge and skill to the next level.

Through the program coaches will gain practical work and advice, learn from the experience of a mentor, increase their coaching confidence and ability in a real working dynamic environment, be empowered to make appropriate decisions, and establish a sense of direction for themselves and their athletes moving forward.

“While classroom and / or online coaching courses are important academically, nothing can replace working with a coach mentor who can equip you with the important tools necessary to perform to your highest capability,” says PCC Head Coach Houshang Amiri who will lead the program. “Our goal is to identify and achieve career development and personal and professional growth goals with the view to make you a successful coach.”

The program will create opportunities to meet and work with athletes giving coaches hands-on experience with PCC programs. Coaches will learn and gain inside knowledge of working in an organizational setting, as well as running their own coaching business.

The PCC Coach Mentorship Program will cover and is not limited to the following:

  • Coaching art, confidence building, decision making
  • Coaching science and technology, latest tools, and gauges
  • Communications, protocol development, program, training feedback, log keeping
  • Training program development, individual and group
  • Developing athletes’ assessment protocols, in-field, and laboratory
  • Goal setting session
  • Developing short term, mid and long term goals: individual and group
  • Training program monitoring: individual and group
  • Planning and running a training session, pre, during and post session communication
  • Race preparation, coaching at races
  • Observing your mentor coaching at training sessions, training camps and races
  • Engaging with existing training sessions and programs at PCC
  • Engaging with your mentor’s athlete coaching programs (confidentiality clause will apply)
  • Creating your own coaching business or working in an organization setting

These elements of the program will be personalized and adapted to the coach’s needs, working with the mentor in a variety of ways such as one-on-one consultation, two-way communications, in person, online and by phone.

Amiri has extensive experience as an educator and mentor. He was coach educator and instructor for Level 1, 2 and 3 NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) as well as being a Coach Certifier for NCCP Level 3 coach candidates at Cycling Canada for over 10 years.  He became a coach mentor at the National Coaching Institute in the University of Victoria mentoring level 4 and 5 NCCP coach candidates, as well as international coaches at NCI from 2004-2008. From 2009 he worked as Coach educator at UCI and international Olympic Solidarity program, traveling around the world running coaching course for coaches.

For more information on the PCC mentorship program contact info@pacificcyclingcentre.ca

Every athlete responds differently to training and will progress at a different rate from one another. Consequently a rider needs to have an individual training plan so he/she can optimize their training outcome.

Working with an experienced coach will save you time and money in the long run. Your training plan is just the starting point and you must consider every aspect of your preparation – from nutrition, to recovery, to fitting training in with your daily life (school or work) and with regular evaluation and assessment.

At Pacific Cycling Centre, through our experience of coaching at a variety of levels from youth development to Olympic and World champions, we have learned that there is no “one-size-fits-all” program, and customized training means more than just changing the hours on a training program template.

Some coaches and training plans follow a set template or push their athletes to train exactly like they did when they raced. If the athlete happens to have the exact same make-up, the plan works, but for most it’s a recipe for burnout and may result in falling short of their potential.

We believe that peak performance, personal bests and good results are the outcome of trust, risk, and commitment between a rider and coach. This means trust in both yourself and your coach and the ability to take a risk and to calculate risk. And most importantly, commitment, not just to working hard, but to open, honest communication, giving and receiving feedback, and learning to fully commit yourself to whatever you choose to do.

Through our experience of working for many years with elite athletes at the highest levels of competition, and observing the highs and lows, head coach Houshang Amiri has developed a philosophy to training based on six fundamental principles. These are the guiding principles for all coaches at PCC:

  • Individualized Approach: Elite coaches must develop an acute awareness of how each individual athlete’s body and mind work, and how they react to training and competitive situations. There is a tendency, especially in today’s Internet world, to employ a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to training. This does not work for an athlete looking to achieve their top performance level.
  • Flexible Training Programs: We believe there is a real danger in mapping out every day of your training for the next six weeks. How can we know how you’ll feel on Wednesday five weeks from now? Perhaps you’ll have a particularly stressful day and the planned workout will just dig you deeper into a hole. Our training plans centre on periodized and weekly goals. We give you the tools and knowledge to map out your own week and adjust as “life” inevitably crops up.
  • Meticulous Preparation: Meticulous planning, preparation and delivery that addresses all sides of the athlete are the keys to success in any sport. They separate the leaders from the rest. We create “living plans” that grow with the athlete.
  • Monitoring and Recovery: Houshang emphasizes active monitoring and careful attention to recovery as critical building blocks in a training plan, to minimize injuries and over-training issues.
  • Feedback: Training plans must be refined on a continuous basis, with the proper, analytical use of heart rate and power meter data. Monitoring devices are nothing more than gadgets if the information they provide is not used appropriately to adjust training.
  • Winning Character: The best physical conditioning alone will not put an athlete on the podium consistently. To compete successfully you must have the character of a champion on and off the bike. One of our most enjoyable tasks as coaches at PCC is to help you further develop and express this character. It is something that will benefit you (both on and off the bike) more than any interval session ever could.

By Houshang Amiri

If your goal is to achieve excellence and to be the best you could be, it is important to identify the gaps in your training, i.e. there is always a GAP between your potential and performance, and between an okay performance and excellence.

In order to identify the gaps you need a systematic approach which should include recording all of your training details. You should start with your goals (short term and long term) and review last year’s season results and rate each area: what you achieved, underachieved or overachieved.  To do this you need tools, and one of the tools is your YTP (Yearly Training Plan).

Review your YTP compounds to include training, camps and a race calendar plan for each of the phases: macrocycles and microcycles, volume and intensity. Then check what was the target for the Key Performance Factors (KPF) and rate them to pinpoint where the shortcomings were.

Some of the cycling KPF’s;

Aerobic Capacity
Endurance Capability
Aerobic Power
Maximal Aerobic Power
Anaerobic Capacity / Power
Speed
Muscular Endurance
Core Strength / Endurance
Pedalling Efficiency, Aerodynamic
Body Composition
Recovery Regeneration, Nutrition
Flexibility
Physiological Skill

Of course you can analyze those KPF’s if your plan is measurable and based on your goals. Finding and analyzing the gaps is an important part of each new plan. When you are building your new plan, don’t forget to include your strategies for all KPF’s, and make sure your plan is achievable.

Whatever you race at a club or international level, you and your coach must have a clear idea about the details. The next step is teamwork: a partnership between you and your coach with effective communication between the two. Trust between an athlete and coach is an important element for success.

By Houshang Amiri
Photo: Louise Hodgson-Jones

Many athletes make the mistake of not hiring a coach early in their athletic career. A life of an athlete can be a short one, so it is important to develop an athlete’s ability early, or the risk is they will never achieve their full potential. Results can’t be achieved if you are stuck in a rut, such as finishing in the middle of the pack year after year. You may be training hard, but are you training smart?

You can train smart and more efficiently with a coach. Coaching is an art and a practice for excellence and on many levels is supported by many years of research and science. A successful coach is always learning. Whereas it may take 10 years and 1,000 hours for a cyclist to win a big race and achieve his/her goal, the coach’s job is never done. Whether it is continuing to work for higher goals, or coaching another potential athlete, the coach is always striving to bring out the best in his/her athletes.

What are the qualities of a good Coach?

It takes time to develop the necessary skills to be a good coach. Understanding athletes needs and goals require knowledge, expertise and confidence. An important criteria for any coach is to have an athletic background in the sport he/she is coaching. That person doesn’t necessarily have to be an ex-World or Olympic champion, but he or she must have experience competing at an elite athlete level. That way they know the expectations of competing at a high level.

A passion for coaching is important and to be able to deal with failure as well as success. The interest in wanting to learn and develop as a coach is also important. Learn the basic coaching skills first and then advance over the years with the goals of being an elite coach.

Choosing a Coach

Before choosing a coach you need to know what your dreams and goals are. Believing in your dream is also an important part of your ultimate success. If you want only technical advice then you may be able to get away with advice from fellow, experienced athletes. They may be able to tell you the best line to ride or what equipment you need, and it may be useful advice and work for them, but it may not work for you.

A competent and experienced coach can also offer technical advice but is more aware of the athlete needs and so can personalize any advice. But coaching is more than just giving technical advice or running a training camp.

One of the biggest reasons an athlete fails is not understanding how to get to the next level. There is a large gap between an athlete’s potential and his actual performance, and a coach needs a systematic approach and long term plan to overcome this gap, and work through it, to keep the athlete on the path to success.

An experienced coach can be the best resource when an athlete is not sure what step to take next or starts experimenting with their training sessions. Changes won’t come overnight as the coach must take the time to understand the athlete’s physiological, physiological, social, and work ethic. A trust has to be developed to build a healthy relationship – the relationship that is also based on respect. Ultimately, the coach and athlete develop a partnership towards the common goal of achieving excellence.

Over the years I have seen many athletes who have great potential but have never taken the time to learn the basics, like decision making, risk management, or effective planning. If they can’t learn these basics they will never be able to dream and achieve their goals.

By Houshang Amiri