12 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Clinic
By Donny Robinson
Thousands of BMX racers each year sign up for clinics to help improve their riding and raceday prep. Some are led by the track coach, some by local experts and/or pros, and others by fly-in pros or on-the-road factory teams. Each has their own unique appeal, but in 10+ years of doing clinics, I have seen some common things that riders and parent COULD be doing to get the most out of their investment in being there.
“Coach dad (mom, uncle),” is a huge part of any family’s BMX Racing picture, and racing clinics are hugely-beneficial in serving both the rider and the parent, so your “team” is equipped with the know-how to take this newfound-knowledge and continue to grow your program.
Signing up for any clinic is an investment by you, in time, and in financial commitment. So I have compiled this list of 12 things you can do to get the most out of that experience.
1). Prep Like It’s Race Day
That means get plenty of rest the night before, eat a nutrition-packed breakfast or lunch, and bring raceday-type supplies such as bottled water, protein bars, fresh fruit, your toolbox, pens or markers, inner tubes and whatever else you might bring to a race.
2). Bring a List of Questions
What are the SPECIFIC aspects of your rider’s racing that you want to improve? Bring a small list (maybe three or four items) on what you need to improve, with corresponding questions you can ask during Q&A. The Q&A part of the clinic is one of the most valuable, yet is also one of the most under-used by participants. In a group setting, you may not be able to hit every one of them, but a good instructor will stick around after the session to answer questions beyond those covered on the track.
3). Bring Some Friends
If you have a training partner, or other riders you see frequently at the local track, get together and come out as a group. It’s a great opportunity to get to know other riders at your track– plus, when the training is over and you get back home, you will have a core group, all of whom have the same shared experience, and you can work together to build each other’s skills.
4). Show Up Early
Make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start time. This will allow you to get your rider signed up, and will also allow time for a proper warm up. Expect the clinic to start on-time. Being there early, you’ll be ready when the instructor calls the class into session. The rider will need to do more than just pretend this event is important to them, to get the most out of it, so some advance discussion on what will be happening on clinic day, and why you’re doing this will help a TON. The rider should mentally and physically ready to retain information and perform to the best of their ability.
5). Give 100% effort
You won’t see the full range of results if you’re not giving it your all. Training takes focus, and this is the time to dig deep and focus on the exercises, giving it your all. No teacher is a miracle worker and I tell students all the time that I can do everything BUT give the effort for them. I can tell you “how” and “why”, but I can’t make you give the effort necessary to see real improvement and accomplish something new. If you want to just go through the motions, you might be better off just staying home, and coming out when you are ready to go “all-in.” The big thing parents and coaches want to see is EFFORT; and the only place effort comes from is you!
6). Parents, You’re Taking The Clinic, Too
I always request that parents take part in my clinic, by joining us on the track. My goal is to see riders and parents become better for having attended my camp. It’s nearly impossible to retain everything covered throughout a clinic day. Moms and dads are a key part of the rider’s success, and there is no better way to create a successful action-plan than for parent and rider to be on the same page when they get to work. Having done the clinic “together,” both have a common experience to build on.
When it’s time for a hydration break – you need to break. Not only because most accidents happen during off-instruction time when riders are just “having fun” on the track, but because if you’re truly giving it your all during the clinic (see point #5), the rest time is necessary, and should be a welcomed opportunity.
8). Take Notes
Just like in any class or training session, taking notes will be a valuable reference after the clinic, for you to continue the work you have started during the session. Obviously, the rider will be doing the riding (at 100% effort) so, parents, bring a notebook (or, better yet, the training journal you keep).
9). Be Attentive
DO NOT MISS ONE WORD YOUR INSTRUCTOR SAYS! Not only because you might miss your turn to strut your stuff, but because it only takes one word – one mindset – one exercise – or one affirmation, to spark big results in your riding (or your life). Don’t be the participant(s) caught talking amongst yourselves when the teacher is trying to impart valuable lessons to the group.
10). Be a Team Player
Many times, group activities take center stage in a clinic. These often give you the ability to practice “race-type” scenarios, but in a more controlled environment. Even though BMX Racing is an individual sport, when group exercises take place, you should work to be a “team player” for the benefit of everyone involved.
11). Who’s Running the Clinic?
If you want the best quality clinic for your rider, do your homework. Just like finding the right school, products and services in your non-BMX life, the provider of the racing clinic should have a solid reputation. Sometimes, options are limited, but when they’re not, you’re often likely to get what you pay for. Don’t be content with just “what’s available.” Take a look at how much you invest in racing on an annual basis (if you dare). You will drive 12 hours to a race, but not three or four hours to attend a well-run, highly-rated clinic. Realigning that one practice will be huge in terms of results. Being the local hot-shoe or a nationally-known rider is not necessarily directly-transferable to being able to TEACH fundamental skills and actionable exercises for all proficiencies.
12). Listen To Your Parents
It may sound cliché and corny but, riders, listen to your parents! Even though they may not know how to race BMX or even ride a bike, they have eyes, and they know the behaviors of their children. As much as we don’t want to hear suggestions or criticism from the sidelines, your parents can see mistakes (or lack of effort) that you may not be aware of. Trust me, the sooner you realize these things, the easier your life will be. You can thank me in 10-20 years.
Bonus: Leave With the Pedals 2 Medals Book
This one is unique to my clinics, so I am including it as an addition to the list of 12. Mike Day and I created a 76-article book, which outlines all of our tips & tricks for training, mental prep, and other raceday readiness. If you don’t continue to work on the mindsets and skills that you learn during the camp, then why even go? The purpose of instructional camps are to impart knowledge, and give riders/parents the tools they need to refine and improve once back at home – that’s why I encourage riders to refer to their notes. Were there areas you struggled in? Great – continue to work on those things!
You don’t have to attend one of my clinics to get one, either. Use the links below to order your copy, as an e-book or hardcopy edition.
Thanks for reading, and all the best in the 2016 season.
*Rider-featured photos are from Donny’s clinic at South Park BMX last summer.
Upcoming Donny Robinson Clinics
Rock City BMX – Grand Rapids, MI – *This Weekend* – April 2-3
New Paltz BMX – New Paltz, New York – May 7-8
Nanaimo BMX – Nanaimo, BC Canada – June 25-26
Pedals 2 Medals E-Book