By Ian Douglas
Connor Fields attracts a lot of attention in BMX racing circles, and the attention is certainly well deserved. What else can you say when someone captures multiple BMX world championship titles and competes in the 2012 Olympic Games all before he is legally old enough to buy a drink?
Thanks to his world class racing ability and his remarkable achievements, Connor is asked for advice by young BMXers at least ten times a day. If you are one of the aspiring racers that have been fortunate enough to catch Connor on the track and ask him for advice, he probably shared with you these five training suggestions that have helped make him the best in the world at what he does.
1. Get on the Track
Ultimately, the true proving ground for BMX racers is on the track, and that is the only place to truly learn to apply skills that are going to be used during a race. Connor says the best way to get better is to actually get on the track for races and practice sessions as often as possible.
“Local tracks normally have one or two nights a week where they have races, and one or two nights for open practice,” Connor explained. “Race one or two times a week, and practice on the track at least once a week. If you do it this way, you can learn new skills when you practice, and then you can immediately learn to use it in the race.”
2. Hit the Gym
While lifting heavy weights may seem like an odd training technique for a BMX racer, it is an essential tool for developing the power and speed required to pull away from your competition. That’s why Connor hits the gym twice a week and advises you to do so as well, provided you are at least 16 years old.
“When I’m in the gym, I focus on explosive movements because I’m trying to build strength and speed,” Connor said. “That means I’m doing squats, dead lifts and power cleans, and I’m also doing plyometrics and ab work. If you’re new to it, you want to make sure you learn from someone who knows what they’re doing so you can avoid injury. ”
3. Do Bike Sprints
Spending time at the track and pedaling around the course is essential, but so is speed work. Of the three days he spends training on his bike each week, Connor spends at least one of those days focusing on bike sprints over short distances in order to make sure the power he develops in the weight room transfers over to his races.
“If you’re going to lift weights you need to know what to do over the jumps with the speed you’re creating,” Connor said. “This is one of the ways that sprinting on the bike helps. It’s like a skier or snowboarder doing black diamond runs before they learn how to handle their speed. You need to learn what you’re doing on the green courses first before you work your way up to the black.”
4. Have a Plan
One of the things that drives Connor crazy is when he sees BMXers screwing around on the course without any real training plan or goals in mind. Connor says that, all too often, those same racers that screw around during practice sessions are frustrated when they lose and don’t seem to understand why they lost.
“When you go to the track, you need to go there with a plan,” Connor said. You need to know what you’re going to work on. You need to work on starts, or you need to work on corners, or you need to work on your endurance or another specific skill. Don’t just go to the track and fart around and expect to get better.”
5. Ask for help
BMX racing is a relatively new sport, and unfortunately, it is not as structured as other sports that have an established system where young racers can get coached and progressively get better. With that being said, Connor personally coaches three kids, and says there are ways for racers to get the advice they need in order to improve.
“Find the best person in your area and ask them for help,” Connor advised. “Ask them to be your coach and to point you in the right direction. Every single pro I know helps out younger kids. When kids get to the point where they want to be serious about racing, they need to find someone who knows more than them who can help them.”
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.