Rais­ing A Happy Champ

We all want our chil­dren to be cham­pi­ons on the bike - but how we do we keep them happy. while groom­ing them for great­ness

Bicycling (South Africa) - - INSIDE! -

How to keep your child grounded and on course to achieve their po­ten­tial – while still en­joy­ing cy­cling.

Luke Moir is one of the hottest young rac­ers on SA’s moun­tain- bik­ing scene. The 14- year- old SACS boy has won the na­tional MTB Cup Se­ries and Champs in his age group three years run­ning. and proved his chops fur­ther by winning rounds of both the Swiss and the Ital­ian Cup Se­ries.

In 2017 he raced in the U16 age group of the SA XCO Se­ries, winning all four races and clock­ing laps faster than some U18 rac­ers. He is touted as one of SA’s up-and- com­ing MTB stars. But is he in dan­ger of burn­ing out be­fore he can ful­fil his ob­vi­ously mas­sive po­ten­tial?

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Jeroen Swart, sports physi­cian and ex­er­cise sci­en­tist, a key rea­son for burnout is that chil­dren re­quire en­ergy both for grow­ing and for the ac­tiv­i­ties in which they par­tic­i­pate. At 14, Luke is in a rapid- growth phase.

At this age, says Swart, too much sport can cause an en­ergy deficit, re­sult­ing in tired­ness as well as im­paired con­cen­tra­tion. En­thu­si­asm for sport can also di­min­ish, lead­ing to burnout and even with­drawal.

Mark Moir, Luke’s fa­ther, un­der­stands this; and he care­fully man­ages how much time his son spends on his bike. He be­lieves many young rid­ers race and train too much. Mark’s goal is to cre­ate a bal­anced en­vi­ron­ment for his young champ.

“We’re try­ing to take pres­sure off Luke, to help him last longer in the sport,” says Mark, a keen cy­clist him­self. “Luke wants to win ev­ery race, but we limit the num­ber of races he en­ters, while also adding fun as­pects to his rid­ing by chang­ing up the kinds of events he at­tends.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mark, train­ing is based on how Luke feels on the day, and isn’t planned too far in ad­vance. “A lot of peo­ple are sur­prised by how lit­tle Luke trains. He av­er­ages about six hours a week.” The rest is spent on easy and fun rides.

Luke also takes part in ath­let­ics, but prefers MTB. “I love sin­gle­track – go­ing as fast as I can down­hill, and get­ting in some jumps,” he says.

He has am­bi­tions to be­ing a pro; but he’s aware of the big deal peo­ple are mak­ing of him, and plays it down. “I don’t feel like I’m rated highly, though I do know what peo­ple are say­ing. I don’t rub it in. But when­ever I’m out there, I want to be first, the best. I want to say I’ve tried my hard­est.”

To avoid ‘over- sport­ing’ your kids, Swart sug­gests lim­it­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion to a few hours of train­ing and com­pe­ti­tion each week. “Em­pha­sise fun, and focus on de­vel­op­ing skills and tac­tics, rather than the re­sult,” he says. Swart also rec­om­mends not let­ting your child spe­cialise in a sport too early; in­stead, let them sam­ple many dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines.

“Fol­low these rules, and you’ll have a happy, healthy adult – who may even go on to be a world cham­pion.”

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