What good are skills if you can’t use them under pressure?

I just received this email from a student:  “Hi Gene,
I’ve really started to feel the effects of your camp and my technique has got a hell of a lot better, when I’m racing i feel so confident and fast in practice

But then when it gets to seeding and race runs this all goes out of the window and i just end up falling off, I’m not riding outside of my limits and i know that i can ride well enough to be threatening the top spot in my category but i just seem to not be able to manage the pressure and the mental side of things.

Any tips on race mentality etc??”

This a tough thing for many racers and as I mentioned a few times in
my camp, what good are all the skills if you can’t use them when

You need to toughen up your mental game. First, remember there is
no difference between a race and a practice run, same track, same
racer, same bike, same goal.  The only difference between your race
run and a practice run is the pressure YOU but on the run. Treat your
race rub=n as another practice run (especially if you are doing timed
practice runs using a stopwatch)  then read these two blog posts:
http://betterride.net/blog/2010/are-you-tough-part-1/ and
http://betterride.net/blog/2010/are-you-tough-part-2/ and most
importantly ready, study, practice, master one of these books from
your homework assignment:

The New Toughness Training for Sports: Mental, Emotional, and Physical
Conditioning from One of the World’s Premier Sports Psychologists
by James E. Leohr, Chris Evert, Dan Jansen,

Excellent book with work sheets to help you practice what it teaches.

The Mental Edge: Maximize Your Sports Potential with the Mind/Body Connection
by Ken Baum, Richard Trubo,

Excellent book with work sheets to help you practice what it teaches.

Body Mind Mastery: Creating Success in Sport and Life
by Dan Millman,

Really, really great book that goes a little deeper into why you
compete in sports and helps you integrate sport and life (helps you
see and create balance in your life so the sport does not take over
your life).

Most importantly have fun!  That’s what keeps Steve Peat and Minnaar on top.

1 reply
  1. Chris Cornelison
    Chris Cornelison says:

    I think Gene’s very last comment is the most important. “have fun!”.

    I race XC, were the races are mostly won based on who is really on physical form that day, and I usually have no idea how my competitors race seasons are shaping up unless I saw them race the week before. Since I don’t have any control over these factors, I just put them out of my mind. I am fortunate enough to have a fitness coach, and so I trust that if I faithfully execute the training plan he gives me, he will insure that I peak physically at the right time.

    That only leaves the mental part of racing to concern myself with. If like you said, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well at that ‘A’ priority race (or race run in your case), I’m sure to ride tight, expend way to much energy fighting nerves, and probably not ride to best of my ability. So I just try to keep it simple. Regardless of race priority A, B, or C, I just go out, have fun and race hard. If it all comes together that day, its just icing on the cake.

    It’s funny, the races I have the fondest memories of aren’t the ones when I ended up standing on the podium. They are usually the ones where I was having a great time battling it out for 7th place against another rider in an epic sprint for the line.


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