blog entries

Diary of a teenage female bike racer Part 3

Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp 2014

During the weekend of the 19th to the 22nd of December I attended the Youth Sport Trusts' National Talent Camp, held at Loughborough University. I was nominated by British Cycling along with seven junior female riders who have been racing at National level in 2014 across mountain bike, track and road disciplines. The camp brings together Athletes, Coaches and Officials from a variety of sports such as Cycling, Football, Athletics, Boccia, Swimming and Volleyball, with each attendee being nominated by their National Governing Body. The aim of the camp is to give talented young sports people a plan to help them achieve in their chosen sport, instructed by a framework entitled 'Dream, Develop and Deliver'.

We were split into mixed groups wih athletes from all the represented sports. Our tutor for the weekend was the inspiring Olympic sprinter Jeanette Kwakye.

Over the weekend we looked at how to dream, develop and deliver as athletes. We started by looking at our philosophy as an athlete rating things from mental toughness, hunger to achieve, people skills, sports knowledge and planning for success. In a nutshell the first day was about how a good honest philosophy can help you develop and achieve as an athlete.

The second day started early with circuit training to wake us up and looked at honesty, ethics and integrity before moving onto how athletes should behave, the difference in ethical codes between sports and the importance of fair play. We made performance profiles where we broke down elements of our sporting performance, ranking them to find out what we needed to improve in and what we were doing well in before we made dream goals. We were looking at what is the big thing to aim at in the long term.

We also took part in an emotional intelligence session over the weekend where we looked at the chimp paradox and how to control your chimp, working out strategies to cope and deliver when things don’t go your way. We considered all the people who help you get where you are and the support network surrounding athletes, discussing how coaches and officials feel as well as their interactions with sportspeople in different situations. Communicating with those in your team also proved to be an important and interesting session. Not stopping for a second we then touched on how to deal with high stress situations and the benefits of planning social items around school and sport life.

During the evenings we had sessions with our National Governing Body of sport (British Cycling for me) and looked at what we had done during the day, related it back to our sport and had the opportunity to work alongside young officials and coaches in our own sport. In the modern age of connectivity it was perhaps not surprising that we also had talks on media image and how to project (and maintain!)a positive media image.

The last day was all about key learnings and what we could incorporate into our training to move forward. Crucially my self-belief has been bolstered and I can see what changes I need to make in my lifestyle, my diet and the type of training I do. It has also helped me understand that as an athlete you need to have a good media image as well as sports men and women are not just judged on results. It is important also not to let our chimp take control and if it does you should respond rationally to it. 

Overall I found the camp very good -  it has really helped inspire me to continue and want to achieve as a cyclist.

Editor's foot note - Pleased to say that I no longer see Tasha down the pub on a Friday night and the icing on the cakes she makes is now only 1cm thick. Furthermore I've either lost about 10% of my power since December or Tasha has got a lot better. The jury is out on that one!!