Cycling Psychology & Goal Setting with Dave Readle

Cycling Psychology & Goal Setting with Dave Readle

Written By Declan Holt

The world of track cycling is filled with tactics, Lycra and unforgiving racing lines. The varying formats of track racing employ some of the most interesting strategies to win.

Take the match sprint for example that often starts as a slow cat and mouse game between two riders until the final 200 meters which erupts into a frantic sprint.

Or the highly prized Keiren races popular in Japan. The colourful event has some of the most spectacular crashes and overtaking maneuvers. Competition exists out on the razors edge; a slight wobble can send an entire pack to the floor in a tangle of wheels and pedals.

Margins between riders are so small that the pressure to perfect every aspect of the race requires a strong mental routine.

Dave Readle, psychologist and champion rider for Great Britain took some time out of his schedule to give us some insights into the changing world of professional track cycling and how he uses goals and structured components to overcome mental obstacles.

How does goal setting influence an athlete’s behavior?

This process is all dependent on the understanding of ownership for each individual athlete. Also, as the athlete matures they will become more akin with this process and be able to challenge themselves and not have to rely as much on external goals set by a coach.

How should athletes and coaches define their goals?

Goals should be fun, and just used as an aid to motivate an athlete not placed to act as a cloud hanging over them. Goals are also used to mark progression for the athlete and if not hit then a review is undertaken to discuss why didn’t we hit the goal and what can we do better. Team effort!

Are there any recent developments in psychology that you are excited about applying to cycling?

Things seemed to have gone full circle, there no longer seems to be a need for external psychologists working with riders but more an environment of learning from mistakes and gaining resilience through experience.

Do you work with any of the riders who competed at the British Cycling National Track Championships?

Yes, but due to confidentiality not able to name them, I also competed and we placed 4th in Team Sprint.

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