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Visualisation, Concentration and Focus - Mental Training Techniques For Cyclists.

Updated on January 14, 2015
CyclingFitness profile image

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. A keen cyclist, runner, and obstacle racer, he ran his first ultra-marathon in 2016.

Mental training techniques for cyclists to improve their performance

Every cyclist has room for improvement. Usually they consider that improvement should be be in a physical sense through riding their bike. However many cyclists can improve their performance in terms of visualisation, focus and concentration.

We often fail to realise the immense effect that mental training can have on a cyclist. Your mind has to be able to cope with the heavy training demands, multiple variable race situations and environmental changes that can negatively effect a rider and their preparation towards peak performance.

Cycling events all have their own mental constraints.

  • In road races you question whether you have the strength remaining in your legs for the sprint for the win
  • On the track you might question whether you can risk it all in the final mad dash in the keirin
  • In a Cyclocross race can you stay mentally focused and retain concentration now it has started pouring with rain. The course is beginning to severely cut up and you're not using full mud specific tyres- how will you cope?
  • In time trials can you keep pushing a huge gear at a high cadence despite feeling like you can give no more effort?

Keep reading to find out simple ways you can improve your mental focus for cycle racing for both riders and studio cycling instructors to introduce into their classes.

Time trials- a true test of mental strength

The ultimate rider test. Man against the clock where mental toughness can lead to improved cycling performance.
The ultimate rider test. Man against the clock where mental toughness can lead to improved cycling performance. | Source

Developing a strong mind for cycling

Visualisation training for cyclists has to address all of the senses (Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic and Olfactory) and should really be done off the bike initially before migration to on bike training.

The ironic thing is that most cyclists have imagined themselves leading the Tour De France Peloton up to the top of L'Alpe D'Huez or taking the win on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Through further visual development of these types of images a rider can increase their focus and concentration to improve their race day performance.

Visualization for road cycling is a very small part of cycling sports psychology as there are so many situations that can occur within a road race that it is near impossible to visualize them all however it is a great initial technique to integrate into indoor workouts and gives an insight into the further possibilities of sports psychology.

Are you mentally strong enough to stay away?

As soon as doubt starts to creep in you lose your mental focus and are less likely to succeed
As soon as doubt starts to creep in you lose your mental focus and are less likely to succeed | Source

Using visualisation techniques during Spin Cycling classes

Use mental training techniques to enhance indoor cycling and studio cycling classes
Use mental training techniques to enhance indoor cycling and studio cycling classes | Source

Focus and visualisation for indoor cycling

Whether you're sat on the turbo trainer (wind trainer) in your garage or spare room, or taking part in a spin cycling class. Whilst spinning your legs on the bike take yourself through the below steps.

The below steps are also a great visualisation process to go through for studio spinning instructors to integrate into part of their class structure.

Step 1.

While spinning steadily close your eyes and cut out any distractions from your mind.

Step 2.

Visualise a familiar cycling scenario that has meaning to you. Whether it's the commute to work, training on local roads, sat on your time trial bike during your favourite TT, or steadily climbing an iconic mountain

Step 3.

Stay positive throughout your visualization. Feel the sun on your back, Legs feeling strong and leading your event. See yourself achieving your goal.

Step 4.

Focus on a particular portion of your visualisation as a goal. The top of the climb approaching. See the finish line.

If you're doing this on your own for the first time try to time your visualization as over time you should be able to improve for how long you can perform for.

As a spinning instructor you could work to a set timeframe- maybe one single song (make sure it's a relatively relaxing track and not jumpy to take away focus and concentration of the particpant).

Addressing the senses during cycling training

Everyone has their own sensory focus and no one is the same.

Visual- See the road in front of you in your mind. Pick out the pot holes, smooth tarmac and scenery

Kinaesthetic- Feelings are often very present in cyclists. Feel how hard your legs are working- do they feel heavy? You can also sense the breeze through your hair and warmth of the sun.

Auditory- Listen out for sounds around you. Are their any birds chirping on a Spring morning? Listen out for the buzz of your tyre as it's connected to the road. (You might also feel this).

Smell- Can you smell the fresh manure on the farmers' fields and the freshly cut grass?

Taste- Can you taste the saltiness of the sweat in your mouth or the flavour in your sports drink?

By using the above techniques a cyclists should be able to begin to open their mind to the possibilities that mental training can provide while helping a rider maintain a relaxed position on their bike despite increased pressure.

Enjoy your next ride and please feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the page.



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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Nice one INFjay. I hope you enjoyed the ToC. It looks a great race. Thanks for your feedback and good luck with your cycling

    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 5 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      Your advice has worked well for me when cycling or running. I even used visualization during the recent Tour of California stage 1, where I rode a stationary bike at one of the exhibits for 60 seconds! (what, you didn't think I was a rider in the Tour of Ca? - Although I've even visualized that too). I especially appreciate improving visualization by focusing on the five senses. Thanks.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks Tom. I'm glad this has helped you. I've personally found that visualisation is a great tool to take away the rigid and often industrial environment of a spin class so good luck with your future sessions

    • profile image

      Tom 5 years ago

      Reading this is quite helpful for me as a spin instructor. in the past ive taken my class through portions of the entire class up from cape point to table mountain in south africa or a zig zag path to mucho pichu. but this has helped me improve. thanks

      Tom H - Billericay UK

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks kitty for your feedback. cf

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Great stuff on cycling, yet again! Your hubs are so informative and dead on. Unfortunately, I don't bicycle but I'm thinking about taking it up in the future!