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.

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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…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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