Tory Nyhaug’s Pro Tips
Check out Tory Nyhaug’s monthly Pro Tips and get your race strategy dialled in …
Tory Nyhaug’s Pro Tips
Check out Tory Nyhaug’s monthly Pro Tips and get your race strategy dialled in …
PRO TIP 01 – JUMPING:
I see many riders, even some pros, that lift up to jump something and leave their legs hanging straight in the air. This causes their back wheel to stay down and case the jump. When jumping: Stay central on your bike, lift with your arms, and while you’re in the air use your legs to re-adjust your position. Of course, you’re not going to lift up hard with your legs as this will cause your front wheel to dip, but keep your legs active. Use your legs, along with your arms, to put the bike wherever you want in the air so when you spot your landing you’re able to catch it cleanly without casing. Work on this when you’re jumping at the track this week!
PRO TIP 02 – PASSING:
Some people when they get behind in a race, or are outside of a transfer spot, panic and try and make a move right away. This isn’t always the smartest thing to do as it tends to be forced, and if it doesn’t work out you can lose a lot of speed and be out of the race early.
If you’re in a semi and you get shuffled back, re-gather yourself and focus. Think about a good spot to pass someone, watch them in front of you, see where they go and go for your opening, decide quickly and be aggressive. Don’t hesitate, we don’t get unlimited passing opportunities in a full lap.
Also remember to always target the finish line, it doesn’t matter if you make the pass in the first turn or last turn, you just have to make it stick!
PRO TIP 03 – FORGIVENESS:
Forgive yourself instantly! It’s easy on a race day to beat yourself up after a mistake or a bad lap and have it ruin your next lap. In BMX we need to have a short memory and forgive ourselves instantly. Mistakes happen, BMX is a hard sport and nobody is perfect on the track. Forgive yourself for making a mistake right after it happens, and re-focus on the next lap. The previous lap is in the past it doesn’t matter.
Next time you catch yourself dwelling on a bad lap, ask yourself “What’s important right now?”, and then focus on what you need to do.
Image below by Craig Dutton
PRO TIP 04 – STAY LOOSE:
I’ve had a couple of my riders tell me the past few weeks that at some races when they have long breaks between motos they have a difficult time warming up for their next round. It’s easy to have your legs feel heavy after sitting around for an hour or 2 between laps. Try this:
About halfway through the break go for a 10-minute pedal. Spin your legs, maybe do a short sprint if you’re feeling it, and stay loose. This will help your legs stay activated and avoid them feeling heavy and inactive when you get in the gate for your next round.
Simple solution but really effective. Most riders don’t do this, but I would do it all the time and it would really help me. Try it!
PRO TIP 05 – REFLECTION:
Don’t put aside a bad race weekend before you evaluate where exactly you were lacking. Many riders, and I myself did this too in the past, just want to instantly forget a bad race weekend and move on into training.
Although it’s good to not dwell on it, first evaluate exactly where you were lacking. It maybe you were getting pulled from the 30foot line to the first jump, maybe your gate form was off, maybe your turn tactics were poor.
Find out exactly where you were losing to your competition and make that a priority before the next race. Tailor your training to expose that weakness so you can work on it and be a better rounded racer the next race.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, target your weak points!
PRO TIP 06 – SPRINT TRAINING FOCUS:
After your race weekend, identify where exactly you were lacking on the first straight and work on that area.
Maybe it’s the gate to the bottom of the hill, bottom of the hill to the first jump, or after the first jump. Whatever area you were lacking in, make that a focus in your training. You can simulate top end speed by doing faster rolling sprints downhill, or maybe you need to be stronger to the first jump so you could do some short uphill box sprints.
Whatever it is you need to improve, zero in on that specific area. Don’t just ‘do sprints’, make sure each sprint session has a focus and a purpose!
PRO TIP 07 – STAY FOCUSED AFTER RACES:
Often, we stay completely focused in the build-up to a race, but its extraordinarily important to re-focus after a race when you start training again. Sometimes our first training session back after an exciting weekend of racing, a great result, or maybe a poor result, we are still thinking about what we did at the race.
It’s important to be completely present and focused, especially on your first day back in training. Not only for performance, but for injury prevention. When we’re not present and re-focused, it can lead to mistakes and injuries, or to a lesser extent lack of performance in training.
I had a couple big injuries from crashes in my first session back after a big race, as I was still thinking about what I did on the weekend instead of what I was doing in training that day.
Stay focused and stay present. For your quality of training but also for your safety on the track!
Image below by Craig Dutton
PRO TIP 08 – KEEP THINGS SIMPLE:
Often when we get nervous, we feel the need to do something ‘extra’ at a race. In fact, that’s the complete OPPOSITE of what we need to do. We are in the position we are in as racers because we’ve stuck to our routine and played to our strengths. All we are trying to do at a race is what we do in practice, maximize ourselves and get the very best out of us. In order to do that, stick to what you know, stay focused on yourself, and don’t let your race nerves tell you that you need to do something different or special just because you’re at a race. Keep things simple!
PRO TIP 09 – SLOW GATES / FAST GATES:
The vast majority of us BMXers like faster gates as we can just react to the red light/first beep and don’t usually have to worry about hitting them. This gets tricky when it’s a slow gate.
If the gate is slow there are generally two options: Lean back more in your stance and leave at a similar timing, or keep your stance the same and leave later. Personally, I would keep my stance the same and do my best to see the red light and delay my reaction or if it was a really slow gate I would stare at the first yellow light and leave then.
There is nothing easy about a slow gate, but it’s important to have a strategy in place so when you have to deal with it, you still feel confident!
PRO TIP 10 – GEARS:
A couple of my riders this week asked me about gearing and if they’re on the right gear. That’s a difficult question to answer, as gearing is very personal. I don’t agree with some coaches saying, ‘this is THE setup’ or ‘you have to use THIS gear’. Everybody’s physical profile is different!
It’s a good idea to try different gears at your home track, time yourself if you can, see what feels best, then train with that gear. One of the best ways we improve is by trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t!
And the most important thing: find what works for YOU and use what YOU feel most confident with at the races!
Image below by Mike Albright
PRO TIP 11 – SETTING UP YOUR PROCESS:
Lately I’ve been helping many of my riders set up their process. By this, I mean setting up their routine behind the gate/in the gate to help with consistency.
One thing I often hear riders say is how they ‘didn’t feel relaxed’ or something ‘distracted them’. While these things do happen, it’s important to give yourself something to focus on. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter how you’re feeling or what’s going on around you, you can still ride your best no matter what’s happening. All you need to do is go through your pre-start routine, have a simple cue word, or phrase you say to yourself to re-direct your focus back to yourself, and execute.
Try it this week at the track, have a great week of training!
PRO TIP 12 – LOSING TIME IN RHYTHM SECTIONS:
I see some riders losing time in rhythm sections or staying approximately the same speed as they entered. They aren’t gaining speed, more so just maintaining what they have.
I would always try and gain speed on EVERY single jump. In my mind, I would think every jump is an opportunity to gain speed. Obviously, it’s not possible to do this, but with having this mindset, it forces you to push hard and maximize every single backside so more often than not, you do gain speed.
Don’t settle for the speed you’re going, always try to increase your speed! Because the riders behind you are too.
Image below provided by Tory Nyhaug
PRO TIP 13 – OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF JUMPING:
A common question I get all the time from riders: “How do I overcome my fear of jumping”
First thing you need to know, is every top pro has a fear of jumping something new the first time. Especially if it’s a challenging jump.
Something I often recommend is to start smaller, jump some smaller jumps, then move on to something bigger, then onto what you want to jump. Another technique that worked for me personally, was to remind myself that I’ve jumped stuff like this before, and to trust my technique. Focus on staying central on the bike, approaching with a comfortable speed, and lifting up appropriately.
We run into problems when we get stuck on the back of the bike, stiffen up, lose control, and case. Remind yourself to keep good technique and trust yourself! The more you do this, the less fear you’ll feel before jumping more in the future.
PRO TIP 14 – JUMPING IN THE WIND:
Many tracks around the world are in windy locations, which means we still need to be able to ride and jump well in the wind.
Default position when jumping: Central on the bike. Being central enables us to control the bike how we like, and move our position forwards or backwards as needed. When we’re jumping in the wind, we need to stay loose and move the bike. Often our brain wants us to ride stiff and hold on tight, but this is typically where we run into problems. If we tighten up and jump stiff, the wind pushes us however it wants to and we don’t have control.
Stay central, stay loose, move with the wind! And most importantly even if you’re nervous, jump confidently!
PRO TIP 15 – LIFTING FOR JUMPS:
Practicing lifting up on jumps is incredibly useful. It’s important when you race on tracks that have jumps with flat lips, or when you get cut off/lose speed and still have to make it through a section. You need this skill in your arsenal.
Going slow through a rhythm section, or a 2nd straight you’re comfortable with while still trying to jump each jump cleanly is a really good drill to do in warm-up. It forces you to have good position on the bike, maximize each lip, and challenges you in a different way.
Never stop improving!
PRO TIP 16 – BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF:
Be honest with yourself and your year, and how you can be better! One of the things that top rider’s do at the end of their racing year is look back and see what went well, and what didn’t. It’s especially important to be honest with yourself and identify where in your racing you were lacking, and then look to fill those gaps. Albert Einstein would say that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. If what you’re doing isn’t providing you the results you’re seeking, then do something else, and if you’re weak in a certain area, work on it!
Never stop improving!
PRO TIP 17 – USE ALL THE TOOLS YOU HAVE:
At a race it’s easy to get excited when your gates are good and you’re pulling on the first straight, and easy to get flustered when your starts are off and you’re not feeling optimal. What do you do then?
Rely on all the tools you have to race your best! So much of our focus as racers is on the gate, and of course it’s important. But it’s not everything.
You can rely on your track speed, cornering, race craft, and any other ways to get the job done. The race isn’t over if you get a bad start. For sure do your best to get the best start you possibly can and hole-shot, but if you don’t, simply position yourself well and find a way through!
PRO TIP 18 – BLOCKING A PASS:
NOBODY likes getting passed in a corner, it sucks. When we get passed in a corner it’s a sickening feeling and after the race we always think we could have blocked it.
Here’s a good trick to help: When you’re going down a straightaway, ride right on the inside of the straightaway almost on the chalk-line. It will give the rider behind you the impression that you’re going to ride the entire straightaway on the inside, so they will then likely move to the middle/outside of the track to not follow directly behind you. Right before the next corner, quickly move out to the middle of the track then carve as low as you can. This blocks them from doing a high-low and allows you to take their line away, keep good speed through the corner, and make it much harder for them to pass you.
Keep this in mind next race!
PRO TIP 19 – HOW GOOD IS YOUR BAD GATE:
Of course, you want to make your best gates even better, but how good is your bad gate? Is it still manageable or is it un-raceable?
The best riders in the world have great starts, but what sets them apart is their consistency. They are still able to compete down the first straight and race their best even when they don’t get their best gate. Their bad gate is still good enough. Ideally, we narrow the gap between our best and our worst gates which ultimately leads to being able to race your best no matter what. Keep this in mind next time you’re practicing!
PRO TIP 20 – THE WORLDS TRACK:
I’ve heard so many people build up the Worlds’ track in their head, hype up how big and difficult it is, before they even travel there and see it themselves!
There is no need to do this, for sure be aware of where you are going and what type of track you are riding. But instead of building it up into being something impossible, focus on your training, prepare the best way you can, and then go there and figure the track out in practice.
No matter how big the race and track is, you go through the same routine every time. See the track, practice the track, race the track. And the World Championships is no different. Do your best to maximize your practice and get used to the track, keep things simple, and race hard. Don’t defeat yourself before you are even there!
The riders that follow their routine and view it as a fun challenge will likely do well, and the riders who build the track/moment up in their mind to be huge, will likely struggle.
Be a pro!
PRO TIP 21 – PRACTICE PLAN:
It’s critical in training and racing to have a practice plan.
It’s extremely important to have a plan for your track session in training so you can work on exactly what you need to. We typically don’t end up accomplishing a whole lot if we just go to the track and wing it- But we can accomplish a lot with a structured session. Whatever it is you need to work on, prioritize it in your session. Whether it’s gates, half-laps, corners, exc. The session should be structured to work on what you need to.
Additionally, having a practice plan for a race weekend when you’re learning the track is also very important. Write it out beforehand, and follow it the best you can. This helps calm your nerves and narrows your focus to what you need to do to get race ready on the track. Typically it’s also a good feeling of accomplishment leaving practice knowing you did everything you could.
Discuss it with your coach, and plan ahead!
PRO TIP 22 – AVOID COMPOUNDING ERRORS:
Making small errors in a lap doesn’t usually ruin your race, but compounding errors does. Often times riders will make a small mistake, then panic and try to regain all their speed on the next jump and make a bigger mistake, which leads to excessive speed lost and likely getting passed.
Small mistakes aren’t a big deal, nobody has a perfect lap, but when it happens simply focus on minimizing the amount of speed you lose, re-focus, and stay smooth on the upcoming jumps. This will help you maintain your speed and keep a small mistake, a small mistake and nothing more.