Five Reasons to Do the Pre-National Clinic
By Donny Robinson
BMX Racing clinics are widely used to help riders develop their on-track skills by incorporating highly specific exercises that will fast-track the learning process. The majority of our success at any race is determined by the amount of work we do in the weeks leading up to an event, but when a pre-national clinic is offered, on the actual track you’re going to be racing on that weekend, there are serious advantages to signing up.
In this Pro Gate Training and Coaching section article, I have laid out five important reasons why, if done properly, the teachers at a pre-race clinic can offer your rider the best investment you’d be able to make in ensuring they walk away with the results they’re striving for.
With nationals becoming larger-scale events, riders are often limited to just a few laps during their small window of age group practice. The pre-national clinic is a great way to learn the intricacies of a new track–without the time constraints of the practice schedule. Parents are spending big to attend the race, anyway – this is an excellent way to help get the most out of your trip!
Everyone Likes Secrets
All tracks are different. From the gate, to the jumps and turns, all the way down to the prime passing lines, if you can get insider tips on every advantage that a seasoned racer knows about a particular facility, wouldn’t you want to hear that advice? Afterall, most of us teaching the pre-national clinics have been racing these tracks for a loooong time. Naturally, you could learn from trial-and-error on your own, but when the chance arises to learn the tricks-of-the-trade from a trusted advisor, jump on it, whether you’re a local to the track or coming in from another state.
It’s All Mental
The level of performance for national BMX Racing continues to rise; from Novice riders all the way through to the Professionals, racers are becoming more similar in their bike skills and overall physical fitness among their peers. So, then, why do some riders continue to perform far below their potential? It’s all mental, son – you should know that! Many of us train day-in and day-out, working on our bike handling and physical conditioning, but how much of our time is devoted to mental preparation? No amount of strength or speed will overcome a poor attitude or lack of confidence. It’s time to get your mind right. Nothing…and I mean NOTHING…is more important while at the race than your attitude and outlook! Find a place or a person that will help you achieve your full potential – on and off the track. The pre-national clinic has that going on in a big way.
*Parents, I know you can use a helping hand getting your riders to listen to the motivational words you’re likely already sharing with them.
Beat The Nerves!
How many times have I lost the opportunity to qualify for a final simply because I could not get comfortable with my nerves or the race atmosphere before it was too late? Far too many. It’s the same at every level. Most of the time, we show up (likely to a new track), get a limited amount of practice, and are then expected to perform at the top of our ability in the first rounds of qualifying – sometimes it takes longer! The more laps we can get, the more we’re surrounded by other racers, the more we can get comfortable with all the surroundings, the more we can relax when race time comes and focus on the very specific list of tasks we need to complete to transfer through qualifiers and into the main event.
Make The Most Out Of Your Trip
Bottom line is, you need to make sure every box is checked before attending a national event. Are you ready to have fun? Have you dedicated yourself to your training? Well then, what else could you do to make sure all of the hard-earned money you’ve already spent, will not go to waste? Do pre-national clinics cost money? Yes. But in the grand scheme of funds being invested, it’s a drop in the bucket, compared to the difference a proper clinic will provide (and the awkward ride home on Sunday when you have nine hours to ponder the one that got away). We often look at things and ask, “Do we really need this?” My answer is, do what you feel is right, but don’t regret not doing everything you possibly can to help yourself achieve your goals.
I asked Donny to write this article after talking with some parents in Rockford last weekend, and getting a sense of how they greet a strange (to them) track, which has big-name national riders who know the track like the back of their hand. The same is true, of course, at any level. One dad said “we really should have done the Redline clinic.” The implication was that his rider could have used some extra track time, tips on the terrain, and a solid coaching-up experience before the big day.
Since dR is doing the pre-national clinic for the next race: the Steel City Nationals in South Park, I thought it would be a great opportunity to hear about his take on pre-national clinics, in general, and maybe get some insight into how he runs his show.
As a thanks to Donny for the above wisdom, please give a click to the link below for more info on his South Park clinic.