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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All,
My daughter has been coming up through the ranks for a few years and is not only a gifted cyclist but an incredibly naturally fit human as well. As is always the case when the big fish leaves the small pond, her training is going to need to come up to the task. Obviously my concerns are pushing too hard and not only causing damage to her physically but finding the balance which doesn't cause burn out mentally as well.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a trainer/coach who has experience with young riders? Obviously just putting her on a crazy adult program will lead to problems so the proper program is imperative to keeping her motivated, conditioned and healthy.
 

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This is a very special request

In the years I have been on this site I have found very little expert information about young teen girls.

Girls in our NorCal League are generally 14 and over and seem to be able to work pretty hard. You will, of course, have a better sense of where she is in terms of her growth. If she is a natural athlete then fortune has smiled upon her. Fortune can be a two-way street and now you are looking to ratchet-up the effort. There are all kinds of growth and maturation issues here and all I can contribute is a sense of caution. Over all I see a reduction in the urgency to be competitive for the next year or so while the body settles down and soft tissues and bones learn to work together. It is an investment in her future and short term goals need to be closely examined for their benefit. What the head wants (or what dad wants) and what the body can do can be very different things, especially at this time in her life. As we say, "it's all good until it's not", and then it is that difficult path of rehab and recovery, for body and mind.

Post this on the Women's Forum, too. Good luck, keep it fun!
 

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I would stay more worried about teaching her the love of the sport, and it is a far greater achivement to still be riding at 35 then winning races under 18. I would stick with riding when its fun and racing when she wants. Then as she gets closer to the age to actually be old enough to go to jr worlds then start working towards that if she still wants to. But it has to be fun, once that goes or if she only does it to please someone besides herself then her time in the sport will be far shorter than it should be.
 

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If it were my daughter I would tell her to just keep pushing herself, to bike beyond the point when she is tired and to just keep trying to get better and faster. Maybe for her to start timing herself so she actually has numbers to try to beat. I would not start her on any real professional level things, because chances are no matter how irregularly you do that, she will burn out on it (not everyone, but most). Like above had said, I would wait till shes at a real competetive age to start actually training her. 13 is very young, she is just now a teenager and will just now start wanting to be social and doing stuff. Making her go do some training just because she thinks now she wants to stick with it may not be a good idea. When you were 13 were you sure what you wanted to do with the rest of your life? I know I didnt... even if I thought for 100% I did.

Just my .02
 

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What area do you live in? People may be able to give you more specific info then. It sounds like you are aware of the tricky nature of athletes of this age group, which is nice, because I'm sure everyone knows of parents in their area who push their children and probably do more harm than good.

I think an important thing would be to get a coach who is not an e-coach, because the focus for this age group should be on fun first - coaches can bring athletes of the same age group together to have fun training sessions, but not if they are on the other side of the country!

It can be very difficult for athletes who are used to dominating their competition to suddenly find themselves no longer dominant, simply as a result of the timing of puberty. Seeing who goes through puberty first probably does as much for determining results in this age group as does training and pure athletic ability, so the ones who end up with lifelong bike careers are those who can mentally handle it (and not get distracted by other teenage fun things haha).....those who love biking regardless of the results and pressure will certainly have a better chance of longevity in the sport.

Good luck!
 

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As mentioned I would be careful. There is a huge number of incredibly talented juniors who are burned out and quit by the time they reach 18.

I don't think racers, particularly women, shoud get serious about racing and trainning until they are in their early 20s. If you look at the elites at the highest level just about none of them raced as a junior. In Canada we are yet to have a female racer who went to worlds as a junior go as a senior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
All,
These responses have been very important and I appreciate them all and I don't disagree with a single point. My wife and I have worked hard to keep this fun and to balance her needs as a teen and athlete. She is my 4th and last child, an older brother was a D1 Lacrosse player and her older sister is a professional dancer so she knows the ropes, both good and bad.

My wife and I have nothing to gain by living through our kids as we've been athletes all of our lives and we have made it VERY clear that if she wants to back off or try other things (she plays hockey, runs, XC ski's, snowboards, surfs, etc) there is no pressure whatsoever. Her talent will be there in the years to come and she is an incredibly gracious, well rounded kid with no issues whatsoever... and we plan on keeping it that way so whatever she choses is cool with us. But at the same time she is beginning to recognize her talents and it's easy to say "hey, let's go train for next season".

Thank you all for taking the time to give your thoughts.
 

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I wouldn't start her on any type of training plan other than having fun with maybe some trail crew mixed in. she is on the verge of noticeing boys and wanting to hang out at the mall with her friends, I would wait to see how that effects her urge to ride before setting up any sort of regiment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, at the risk of turning this into a discussion on parenting hanging out at the mall is never going to happen and 'discovering' boys was last year. She is focused enough (on her own) that no matter how seriously we take this training dilemma we are a family of athletes and it takes priority, both from the standpoint of family togetherness and fitness.

But, I have to admit that while trying to keep things fun for her there are just some things in our home that are mandatory such as diet, homework and fitness and letting a kid just do whatever they want is not something I believe in at all. The commonality of unfit and obese teens is an indication of how many parents do just that.

Thanks again for the responses, all.
 

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I don't want to talk parenting cause I'm too inexperienced, but I do have sisters who are much younger than me so I seen them go through that stage. mtn biking is a boyish thing and alot of girls get very girly in there early teens. as for the training plan why not get a couple of books on training and keep them around the house. if she has the motivation to take her riding/raceing to the next level she will come to you with a plan and you can support her decision vs pushing your decision
 

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I've seen a couple young phenom girls come up through the ranks...and now both of them are burned out and don't race anymore. One of them refuses to ride at all.

Honestly, your daughter has so many quality racing years ahead of her and at 13 she may not be mentally mature enough for that yet. Maybe you could focus on some fundamentals of training instead of crazy workouts. For instance, the two of you could sit down and plan out a month's worth of workouts and see if she can stick to that. This way she has a say in her own plan and it won't seem like so much work if she created it herself. More than anything make it fun.

We have a couple incredible junior teams up here (one girl was the junior CX champion last year-age 12). Check out www.radracingnw.org
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ellen was with THIS TEAM for 2008 but it was too far away so she wasn't able to participate with anything other than racing and she has an offer from Kona for 2009 with a great Expert Master team manager who is the Athletic Director for a private high school here in Maine.

All, I appreciate the advice and as I said in my original post I am just trying to find out if anyone has any experience with training young kids not how to parent or avoid burn out. Every one of her workouts, rides, runs and races is scheduled by her including her insistence that we do the 24 hours of Great Glen this summer. I'm not worried about burning her out, I'm trying to hold her back!!! Her older sister is a professional dancer and was dedicated 4-6 hours a day since she was a small girl so for every story of kids burning out there is a stroy of a well-adjusted adult with fantastic memories of their childhood. As for the mall advice above? She doesn't even want to go to the mall and even if she did I wouldn't let her, nor would any parents I know. I've been to the mall exactly twice in 10 years and there are a few too many tweakers there for my taste. I'm not getting into the parenting thing any further.

Here's an attempt to put this whole thing into perspective- Thanksgiving, Christmas and 4th of July are the only three days we can all get together- all 4 kids, my wife and I and one of the things we do is go for a run on the beach. And guess what? We RACE EACH OTHER!!! We tease the hell out of the loser and try to trip the winner. The 4th of July is our local 5k and we all race that and my oldest son beat my wife this year for the first time and Ellen beat the rest of us. And guess what? We teased the hell out of each other !!! We eat normal foods, drink beer and have fun and if you asked any of my kids about their fondest memory it would involve some sort of sport. I have no idea why I'm boring you all with this...

It's difficult not to come off as either a Mormon or a stage Dad but I can assure you I'm neither. My wife and I race as well as do many other things. We work with animal rescue and my son has a sled dog team so we didn't burn him out to that. I've played hockey my whole life and my oldest son and Ellen play as well so I guess I handled that one ok too... as a matter of fact Ellen's favorite sport is actually hockey and she begs to skate EVERY NIGHT at the local outdoor rink. I coach her team after she BEGGED for the first two weeks that I get involved. Should I worry about burning her out? No, don't think so. Every one of my kids works out or competes to this day in some form or another and every one has and continues to do so by choice, including Ellen and MTB riding/racing.

The funny thing is that Ellen only rides when she wants to with no pressure or guilt involved. She chose to sleep in for our Sunday ride this weekend since she had a friend over and was BUMMED when we got home. She enjoys it, y'all... some kids are competitive and enjoy the challenge and 13 is not too young to make a great many of their own decisions.
 

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Variety is the spice of life for young athletes. Provide her access to all that you can and encourage her in every venue she chooses. Most growing athletes will soon choose their own path, then attack it with vigor.

She won't remember that ride she missed, but she will remember that you didn't shame her into going. :thumbsup:
 

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Keep posting, guys. I'm in the same boat with training a 13 yr. old. My daughter loves to race, finished 1st in the local race series taking first in all the races she entered (only missed 1) and took 3rd at the Mt. Snow Natls for beginner. Here's my problem, there was only 3 girls in the racesand she beat the class by at least 5 minutes. I feel she has no choice but to move up to sport, but she doesn't want to go. So now I don't know if I should push her or just let her stay as she wants.
 

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I'm hesitant to offer but since you put it out there, two thoughts come to mind:
1. "Whatever doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger." She must have a strong competitive nature to have raced a series and be attracted to the pressure of racing at "THE" Nationals.
2. She's just 13. She should ride and race as she pleases. Cycling can last a lifetime.

My unqualified guidance: Let her know you believe she's capable of moving to Sport(Cat 2), and that she can choose to move up when she decides to do it (or is promoted.) Follow her lead. That puts the decision in her hands and will help her know you believe in her ability to make decisions(more important than next year's classification). It's easy to kill someone's joy in an activity when it becomes forced/coerced/unwanted.
Demonstrating your trust in her judgement lasts forever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, without a doubt the parent is the scary part of any equation involving kids. After a lifetime involved in professional and semi-professional sports ranging from cycling to skateboarding to hockey (the term hockey Dad is around for a reason) I've seen some kids RUINED before they had a chance. But just like hockey, tennis and gymnastics some kids are just into it and shouldn't be held back. Each case needs to be assessed differently. If racing and training is the fun part, as in my daughters case, then she's going to race and train. If she chooses not to participate later in life that's fine too. My oldest son rode with us for many years (never raced) and now raises and races sled dogs. My oldest daughter rode with us for many years (never raced) and is now a professional dancer.

I think the important part is to provide your kids with the tools to disagree. Some kids are just too afraid to go against their parents for fear of disappointing them. Kids need to know that they can talk to you. When you have that, the rest is a lot easier. A lot of parents only see what they want to see. Truth be told, I'm sick of chasing my kids all over the damn country, I want to stay home and relax!!!
 

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I have a daughter who is about to turn 12 and loves to race. She was the U-10 mtb national champion a few years ago and won the junior women division of the Mid-Atlantic Cross series this year.

For the last 3 years or so we have been very involved with the Velo Bella club. It's a group of women racers numbering close to 600 from all over the US. There is also a small group of pro riders that we work closely with. They have been incredible role models for my daughter.

We recently started working with one of the pro women, Kathy Sherwin, as our coach. She agreed to do a family coaching plan that covers myself, my wife, and my daughter and coordinates timing of workouts.
 
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