Jenner, Ferris talk on Start Gates and Developing Riders

Jenner, Ferris talk on Start Gates and Developing Riders

Author: Media/Tuesday, April 03, 2018/Categories: State News


Recently MQ has had cause to re-focus on the existing rule of the Manual of Motorcycle Sport, concerning recreational licence-holders riding in the 50cc Demonstration class.
The rule says that recreational activities can not involve starts or finishes (which are defining elements of a race), since recreational riders are neither licenced nor insured to "race".
Some parents have shown concern that this absence of gate experience would cause long-term damage to the child's potential as a racer, so we asked the most qualified people we could think of; Level 2 Coach Rod Jenner - with several decades of experience across numerous disciplines of the sport - and Dean Ferris, the country's fastest motocrosser of the last few years.

We asked Rod Jenner, how much difference will not starting behind a start gate until the age of 7 make to a child's ability to one day develop into a Dean Ferris or a Chad Reed?

Jenner's reply was direct; "Zero".

"This is just such a silly conversation to be having. Honestly, by the time you're a senior, what you did when you were on a 50 means nothing.

"There are the famous examples of guys like Jeff Ward and Ricky Carmichael riding around in nappies, but Dean Ferris wasn't even racing at seven.

"I've never seen a kid at seven who was technically complete - I've seen kids who are complete in places, but they all have a million gaps in their technique at that age."

"If you want to help your kids in their early years, teach them how to ride the track well, and don't worry about winning."

The old junior coaching axiom is that junior sport needs to be about process not outcome, because if the fun disappears from the sport, the athlete usually follows soonafter, never to return.

"Besides," Rod says, "statistically the indicators of professional success don't tend to be a big bag of junior titles.

"The amount of quite gifted kids in Australia who have gone on to do nothing is incredible," he says.

"A big percentage of the best riders were only ever 'good' juniors, but they became 'awesome' seniors.

"At our camp at the AIS our skills-acquisition coach told us that most elite athletes don't specialise in their chosen sport until they are around 14 or 15 - they play multiple sports. So, the best thing you can do to be an elite athlete is to participate in a variety of sports.

"From what I've seen over the years, success as a young kid seems to be more about natural talent, but there's so much more to making it as a senior. The top-five kid who is more used to busting his butt to get somewhere, he's the one who often makes it."

Dean Ferris might be prepping for an attempt at a third-straight MX Nationals crown, but he still found time to contribute some thoughts that might help younger riders make it further.

"I believe championships and winning come from the kid’s upbringing and their passion in the sport," says Dean. "I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid make it who wasn’t self-motivated.

"Parents are important in the kid’s chances of success, but it's really important to know the difference between showing support and guidance, and projecting pressure.

"I’ve seen a lot of mini bike parents pressuring kids in my travels, but in the long run when you push the kid, the passion gets lost.

"I can see where the parents' concern is coming from, but I can tell you, not dropping the gates before the age of seven won’t impede their pro careers, if it comes to that. And I know because I never started racing until age 10.

"It's important to see the Demonstration class as just a chance to have a go on a race day, get used to the track and the event-feel, and then move up as soon as you’re ready."

Ferris action pic: Bruce Cairns


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