By James Durand
I’ve never been one to have any patience. I have high expectations of myself and don’t leave much room for error. It can be frustrating at times, but I am what I am.
I have been forced into a higher level of patience over my life with different jobs, running a business, and, most of all, having kids, but it’s still not my strongest personality trait.
Since the early 90’s, I’ve coached mountain biking and always enjoyed watching the progression of riders while I helped them figure out a few tricks. Seeing a new rider bounce over a log for the first time after just a few instructions is amazing, so the gratification was almost instant. No need for patience. All that coaching was with adults. They were there by choice and really wanted to learn, so my lack of patience was never an issue.
Lately I’ve been doing a bit of coaching with kids on our Tuesday night youth rides, and I am now coaching Regan’s lacrosse team.
On the mountain bike side of things, it’s similar to the adults I’ve coached for years, but the attention span went from 15 or 20 minutes, to 15 or 20 seconds. Seriously, there is no exaggeration here.
So my approach has been a bit different and we work on super simple skills and then get riding as quickly as possible to keep them engaged.
With a bunch of six-year-olds learning lacrosse it’s a bit tougher.
Most of these kids haven’t played the game before and they’re starting from absolute scratch … and again, we have about 15 seconds before they’ve blanked me out and start smacking each other with the sticks, or waving at Mom and Dad in the stands. Or worse, start asking questions. “Hay James, why do you have black laces?” “Hey James, can I be the coach?” “Hey Coach, what’s your name again?”
So it’s quick chats, and back to the action, lot’s of movement and lots of excitement. My dream of creating amazing athletes at such a young age died a little bit.
Then, out of nowhere in the last week, my mountain bike kids, who I thought were completely ignoring me, started using some skills. Their pedals are level, their knees and elbows are bent, and a few of them actually shifted gears last Tuesday. This last weekend at lacrosse, my whole team seemed to wake up. They didn’t run around like a pack of wolves chasing the same ball, they tried to pass to each other, and they actually looked where they were shooting the ball, which got them a few goals in the game when we really needed them.
Just when I was starting to feel like a frustrated cat herder, it seems all these kids are listening … and learning.
It was awesome, and as I was telling them with pride how great they’re doing, one of the kids interrupted with, “Hey James, can we have Tim Bits now?”
Oh well, baby steps I guess.
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…