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Reconnecting with Nature: Gaining a Holistic Perspective on Coaching

The proven concept in cycling coaching is that the main purpose of coaching is to improve an athlete’s physical performance, driving them towards achieving the best race times. The main goal is to improve an individual’s cycling performance and skills. This involves a structured and personalized approach to training, considering factors such as the cyclist’s current fitness level, goals, and available time for training. In the high-stakes environment of competitive cycling, this performance- centric approach has been the cornerstone, often overshadowing the broader aspects of an athlete’s life and well-being.

Reconnection: Towards an Alternative Paradigm

In this issue of the Journal we dive into some alternative approaches to coaching that can easily be related to cycling. On of these provides Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors at the University of Derby, in his new book “Reconnection: Fixing Our Broken Relationship with Nature.” He illuminates the importance of reconnecting athletes with nature, highlighting the holistic benefits that extend far beyond performance metrics. For cyclists, this reconnection can manifest as enhanced mental well-being, increased resilience, and a more profound sense of balance and purpose, which, ironically, can lead to improved performance as a byproduct.

Clinging to the performance-only approach may risk overwhelming athletes, making them more susceptible to burnout, stress, and a disconnect from the joy of the sport. In today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world, athletes may need more than just physical training; they need to be equipped to navigate the complexities of life both on and off the track.

Embracing a Holistic Approach in Cycling Coaching

To help athletes move beyond a purely performance- driven mindset, coaches may adopt a more holistic approach that balances physical training with mental and environmental well-being. Here’s a structured way to implement this:

Tip #1: Integrate Nature into Training

Incorporate training sessions in natural settings, allowing athletes to reconnect with the environment. This not only offers a mental reprieve but also helps in cultivating a deeper appreciation for the sport beyond competitive outcomes.

Tip #2: Foster Mindfulness and Mental Health

Include mindfulness practices in your training regimen. Encourage cyclists to engage in activities like meditation or yoga, focusing on their mental health and emotional resilience as much as their physical strength.

Tip #3: Promote Environmental Awareness and Stewardship

Use the coaching conversations to educate athletes about environmental conservation. Discuss how cycling interacts with nature. This promotes a sense of responsibility and a deeper connection with the cycling environment.

By moving expanding their approach, coaches can develop well-rounded athletes who are not only physically fit but also mentally resilient and environmentally conscious. This holistic approach recognizes the multifaceted nature of athletes as individuals who navigate various challenges in their daily lives.

Reconnecting athletes with nature, focusing on their overall well-being, and emphasizing the joy and beauty of the sport can lead to a more sustainable and fulfilling training experience. This shift in coaching philosophy aligns with the broader understanding of success in sports, where performance is balanced with personal growth and a harmonious relationship with the environment.

Ultimately, coaches who embrace this broader perspective help cultivate cyclists who are not only fast and strong but also mentally agile and environmentally aware. This approach fosters more balanced and resilient individuals capable of thriving in the VUCA world. Remember, in cycling, as in life, the journey is as important as the destination.

Book recommendation: Richardson, M. (2023). Reconnection: Fixing Our Broken Relationship with Nature. Pelagic Publishing.

The article was originally published in The Journal of Cycling Coaches #01/24. To whole journal is accessible to ABCC members. For further information, please take a look at https://www.abcc.co.uk.

Contact the author: Hartmut Hübner, ABCC Communications, ABCC Coach, media@abcc.co.uk

Camino El Colegio 46, Santa Brigida, Las Palmas, 35310, Spain
Contact the ABCC Today
Call us on +34 696 313 209