Instructing off the bike - Why it’s done, when it’s done, and how to do it well
Instructing off the bike is something you may do during a session – or possibly in some circumstances, you may need to instruct an entire session off the bike. If you had to instruct a class off the bike this evening, how would you feel about that?
We tend to get used to what our ‘normal’ is. One of the biggest fears people have is public speaking. Perhaps giving a speech would be scary – but essentially every time we get on that bike at the front of the class, we’re public speaking! But what happens when we take the bike away? Would that feel scarier?
Why would you teach off the bike?
Reason 1: Correction
The most common reason to instruct off the bike is that you might need to subtly and sensitively correct someone’s technique. Occasionally you’ll get those riders who no matter what you say, no matter how you demonstrate bad and good technique, they’re still getting it wrong. Perhaps they didn’t hear. Perhaps they don’t realise they’re doing what they’re doing. Perhaps they’re just not really paying attention! In situations where the rider is putting themselves at risk by not applying your instruction to their cycling, you may need to come off the bike. Usually this will be because a rider is pedalling too fast with insufficient resistance on and therefore you have no choice but to fix this. Try to correct by instructing the whole class and not referring to any one rider; “let’s just check our cadence, make sure we’re sticking between 70-80RPM – that's the big number on your bike’s console; follow my footspeed if you’re not sure.” This is a good way of reminding riders what they should be doing, letting them know where to find the information, and giving them an alternative way of achieving it if they’ve forgotten their glasses and can’t see the metrics on the console in front of them.
Once you’ve ascertained that this approach hasn’t worked, you’ll need to up your intervention by coming off the bike. If a rider is putting themselves at risk, you need to address that.
Reason 2: Encouragement
You may want to come off the bike to give more energy and encouragement to individual riders. This is particularly valuable during long timetrial sections or perhaps when some riders are undertaking a power test.
Reason 3: Improvement
Riders don’t ride with perfect technique all the time. Sometimes they ride with perfect technique none of the time! Coming off the bike and doing a round of the class pointing out to individual riders how to pedal more efficiently and effectively, how to get more from each pedal stroke is valuable. Maybe some riders are riding with their toes down, maybe some riders are pedalling ‘in squares’ and not making the most of the ‘pull up’ and ‘push over’ parts of the pedal stroke. Maybe some riders may benefit from a change in handlebar position – you can make small adjustments during the class by coming off the bike. Always ask permission for touching a rider’s person or their bike. It's the professional thing to do.
This article is an excerpt taken from the Instructing off the bike nano course.
Want to find out more about instructing well off the bike? ICI Nano courses are a great way to update yourself as an instructor and get concise information in a bitesize chunk of time. Click below to get started on the Instructing off the bike nano course now: