MTB Skills Training Methods: Group Clinics vs Smartphone App...

Today we compare skills training options. Enjoy!

Two effective ways of learning new skills are in-person clinics and online courses. Which is better? They're both awesome but in VERY different ways.

Group Clinics
Where group clinics (or personal coaching) really shines is personal interaction with a coach, who can identify problems and provide a fix you can take with you. You can have real-time discussions and get instant feedback. And the social interaction of group clinics is a big drawcard. You’ll meet other local riders and make new friends. Some riders love this style of event.

The challenge all coaches face, however, is providing enough value to justify the price. We want you to experience progression, hence in-person coaching tends to lean on simple, easy-to-remember coaching cues. However, there’s a limit to how much you can learn or improve in just a few hours – it’s as simple as that.

It's not uncommon for students to become overwhelmed with new information, and get stuck in their heads, making the exploration of new movement patterns challenging. Secondly, once the clinic is over, students are let loose to implement their new skills from memory, without ongoing support. It can be a bit like drinking from a fire hose one day, going thirsty the next. 

You can’t get around the simple fact that unlearning bad habits and learning new skills takes more time than is available in a full-day, weekend or even multi-day clinic. That’s not to say you can’t achieve some great progression, but the amount is limited.

Online Coaching
Online coaching is the (relatively) new kid on the block. The biggest difference is online courses are consumed over weeks, month or even years. Instruction and practice form a continual cycle of progression.

The rider learns at their own pace, when they have time, and progress when they are ready. Because there are no time restraints, techniques are explored in granular detail. Rather than drinking from a firehose, have a sip whenever you’re thirsty for knowledge. And lessons can be revisited, multiple times if necessary, for clarity and deeper understanding.

Feedback is ongoing via written questions, or video submissions. This is one of the great benefits of online learning: slow motion analysis by a coach. Slow motion videos, shot with a smartphone, reveal technique flaws not visible to the naked eye. Students can even diagnose their own technique flaws on screen, which further deepens learning, or ask a coach for feedback. The student is deeply immersed in the learning process.

What about disadvantages? Unlike group clinics, riders tend to practice alone and this requires motivation to succeed in the long term. Posting a comment or video takes some time and effort. There is a social aspect, interacting with riders from all over the world, although this is via online forums rather than in-person.

Online coaching isn’t for everyone, however, it has proven itself to be a highly effective method of developing new skills over the long-term without breaking the bank. You’ve got a world class instructor right in your pocket.

The Best of Both Worlds
So which is superior I hear you ask? Both have advantages and disadvantages to be sure. So it makes sense to employ both methods. Use online learning as your long term strategy of ongoing instruction and improvement, and then join a group clinic (or even better arrange a personal coaching session), to receive live-feedback from a coach, riding trails and technical features in your local area. This is not only cost effective, but embraces the best of both coaching methodologies. Ride on!

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