Hayden Roulston and the team at Roulston coaching enjoyed a very successful campaign at both the Age Group Road and Track Nationals this year. It has been a continuation of the transition that Hayden has gone through from full time rider to full time coach, and we caught up with him to find out about how it feels for Hayden, now being the sideline support system.
RC: First of all tell us about the success enjoyed by Roulston Coaching at the Age Group Road and Track Nationals this year.
Hayden: Our athletes have had a really great year at both track and road nationals so I couldn’t ask for a better start really. Track nationals was hugely successful for us with Roulston athletes winning 29 medals. At road nationals just gone we won 7 medals. We had some real stand outs at these competitions and some unexpected results too. We also had a lot of top 5 and top 10 results. Sometimes success though isn’t always medalling, or winning, it can be achieving a goal or a PB. Of course everyone wants a medal, but everyone develops at different speeds too so sometimes the small achievements mean the most.
RC: You’ve now experienced success on both sides of cycling as a rider and coach. Tell us about the feeling of winning individually or being part of a winning outfit as coach.
Hayden: They’re very different feelings. To be honest as a coach it is much more stressful than being a rider. As a rider you have full control of the end result, you dictate what happens both mentally and physically. As a coach there is only so much you can do, and at the end of the day I can’t race for them! I guess being a coach it is very satisfying when an athlete succeeds because you feel as if you’ve played a huge part, both on the bike and off, you got it right. What I have struggled with in the early days of my coaching career and what all of our coaches struggle with is when an athlete doesn’t succeed. That is hard to take, and harder to take than when I was a rider. I feel personally responsible when an athlete fails to fire, it’s actually really hard!
RC: What is a key thing that every athlete learns after coming on board at Roulston?
Hayden: That more is not necessarily better! That training + rest/recovery is what makes a better athlete, not just training. That self talk is probably the biggest contributing factor to success, a negative mind attracts negative outcomes. Actually the biggest thing any athlete can do is think of themselves as a big magnet. What they say, they attract, and it is as simple as that. Whether it’s internally talking negative, or saying things like ‘I don’t want to crash’ type of thing. I only learned about the power of the mind after I had my heart scare but I wish I learned it earlier. The mind is the most important thing both in sport and in life and when you get this right you can achieve whatever you want.
RC: Is there a downtime process that your athletes are going through now post-nationals in general?
Hayden: Yes, always. What I am finding is that young athletes think they are invincible and they don’t really like taking breaks! Basically all of my athletes have 2 days off a week, especially the younger riders. After nationals we also take a break. Some take 1 week some take 2 weeks. It depends how long they’ve been building up for, and what they have coming up.
What athletes doesn’t understand, especially young athletes, is that from the age of 15, to the age of 21 is a long, long time. In cycling years it feels like double if you do too much too soon. I am all about longevity, having a long successful career and having the motivation to succeed when it really matters. At the age of 18-20 years when I start ramping things up, if you’ve done too much too soon then the motivation won’t be there and if that happens you are done. Of course what you achieve when you are young means a lot to the rider and parents at the time, but when it comes to the Olympic final it means nothing. You want athletes to have success at any age, but everyone develops at different rates.
RC: And can you tell us about what sort of things you as a coach will be doing in terms of goal-setting from here. Are you the sort to try and vocally encourage riders to expand their horizons, or do you come from an angle of slotting in with your riders’ goals more?
Hayden: I am all about goals. I tell riders that you are a magnet – what you put out there, you will attract back. You’ve got to have your ‘dream goal’ of course, but you’ve got to have some ‘smaller’ targets along the way to tick off. I remember when I was a young rider I always had riders to beat. First it was Heath Blackgrove. Then it was Hayden Godfrey. Then it was Greg Henderson. I always had targets. I always had race targets too, but when I think back to when I was a rider my goals weren’t high enough, there was too much wriggle room. So now when an athlete says top 5 I try and get them to narrow it down, aim higher. Of course you have to be realistic too and this is not easy to coach, but there is nothing wrong with aiming high.
RC: How is the Roulston Foundation coming along and what do you hope to achieve by setting this up?
Hayden: We are slowly but surely getting there. Good things take time! I hope to have the Roulston Foundation up and running within the next few months. The goal of the Roulston Foundation will be to remove financial burden that athletes and parents face and create clear pathways to the top of the sport. There is some really exciting stuff we are working on, I’ve got some great people involved and we are all hugely passionate about this project. It is really exciting and I can’t wait to see it unfold.
To find out more about Hayden and the team at Roulston Coaching click here.