Coaching Matters: Paul Manning

British Cycling coach Paul Manning won a High-Performance Coach award and the annual UK Coaching Awards in London this week. Here is an interview Cycling Weekly did with Manning on a training camp at the beginning of 2011.

How long have you been coaching for?

PM: Since the fifth of September 2009, not that long

How many riders do you coach?
PM: I’m coaching the team pursuit squad on the track, there’s probably five or six there, and Alex Dowsett still, that’s from the Academy and all of last year when he was in the States. All in, hands on, it’s six to seven year round.

How did you get to where you are now?

PM: I was fortunate to have a reasonable cycling career, then Shane [Sutton] and Dave [Brailsford] came along and said; ‘do you want to come back and work with us?’ I think they valued my experience, I’d been around the team pursuit for a period of time and learnt from the early days. [I’m] reasonably organised, [I’m] reasonably good at keeping in touch with people, and all those things add up.

What’s your coaching style?
PM: However you try and flex your coaching style, you’ve got to be yourself and be consistent; ensuring there’s a good clarity of message and keep dripping in the message and getting the basics right, then add in the intricacies.

Do you coach riders all the same way?

PM: In a group environment that’s the only way to deliver a session. Away from the track, when you’re dealing with one-to-ones, it becomes a bit more individualised, but underlying that is me. They are subtle changes, but not away from a style.

What’s the one thing you find yourself repeating to your riders?

PM: At the moment it’s the same message on the track, it’s getting the baseline the same, that’s the focus of what we’re trying to do. We’re still establishing what the benchmarks are. This winter we’re trying to get everyone up to the same level. We’re still looking to do the basics well, and make sure young riders recognise when they’re doing a good job and that they continue to think about what they’re doing.

What’s the most important thing you try to impress on a rider?

PM: Knowing that no one session will make a massive difference, but it’s the sequence of sessions, the six week training block. If you work on your start over six weeks you should be better by the end of it, but no one session will change it. It will all add up to make the difference.

What the greatest innovation you’ve seen in your career?

PM: The application of sports science. SRMs and pulse monitors have been around for a long time, but you can still learn so much through pulse and the application of that basic principal. It’s a great innovation but it still needs to be pushed forward. We know how to train better, but it’s the dissemination of that information to everyone.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve known a rider to do?

PM: Not recognising when it’s time to rest. It might not be tiredness, it might be an injury or an illness. Common sense would [tell them] they should rest and get better sooner, but they prolong it by making the wrong decision in the short term.

Quick fire questions

Q – Ramp test or race results?
A – Ultimately, race results

Q – Power metre or heart rate monitor?
A – Heart rate monitor

Q – Get the miles in, or specific sessions?
A – Specific sessions, but there’s a time and place for both

Q – Sports nutrition or real food?
A – Real food

Q – Training: Early morning or evening sessions?
A – I’ll go with early morning, but that’s a bit contentious

Related Links:
Paul Manning honoured in 2012 coaching awards