One of the best experiences of my coaching career was being able to work with Aaron Gwin at the beginning of his riding career.
I had a connection with Rich Houseman, who “discovered” Aaron at a local SoCal DH race. Rich called me and told me that I needed to start helping this kid because he was going to be great.
I had the chance to work with Aaron for about 3.5 years, before he was a sponsored rider and then through his time with Yeti. Aaron was actually the reason that the Yeti team hired me because he was impressed with what I was doing with him and wanted to make sure that I was the strength coach for the team.
Over that time he came and stayed with me to train and I had the chance to see him go from an unknown rider to the best American DH racer in a generation, getting 10th in his first ever WC race, finishing as high as 3rd in a race and placing 5th overall after just a few years of racing.
I learned some valuable things from working with and observing him and here are the top 3 things I took away from our time together.
1 – Don’t make excuses.
– I worked with several “next big things” who never amounted to much of anything.
– One thing that I noticed was that they always made excuses for why they couldn’t do something I asked them to do.
– Aaron never made excuses and just did what I asked him to do.
2 – Keep your emotions in check – never too high or too low.
– Another thing I noticed was that Aaron stayed pretty even keel with his emotions.
– You couldn’t tell from talking to him whether he had a great race or bad race.
– His highs were never too high and his lows never too low.
3 – Staying injury free is more important than maximizing performance with your training program.
– Aaron had a bad shoulder from a previous injury when I started to work with him.
– The focus was on keeping the shoulder injury free during training and doing what we could to make it more solid.
– If you’re hurt it doesn’t matter how fit you are and more good riders have been ruined by a bad training program than made great from some super hard, overly ambitious training program.
I hope you got something from these lessons as well. You don’t have to be a pro racer to benefit from applying these things to your own training and riding and, if you do, you’re bound to see better results for it.
Until next time…