Coaching a Junior

By Marilyn Trout | 10/02/12
Coaching a Junior

We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Coaching a Junior

I am a 14 year old junior road racer looking to gain cycling advantages at the junior and Cat 4 level. Just a couple questions if you don't mind..

What is your philosophy on how to develop a top Junior rider? How will you coach me differently from an experienced cat 2 or elite racer? What is your experience with other Junior racers and what are some of their results? What do you know about the USA Cycling program and the pathway to Junior Nationals and World Championships?

Jeremy L.


There's an earlier article that I wrote (June '10, The Dynamic Duo: Chemistry And Communication) that provides insight into my coaching approach and how I relate to my athletes of all ages. Although training principles don’t change in relation to a cyclist’s age, modification within those principles (volume/intensity/duration) will be seen throughout the Annual Training Plan right down to the micro-cycles of the season. Certainly for a Junior, the total hours of training per year is usually around 200-300 whereas a Cat 2 is at least 750 hours. I utilize TrainingPeaks with my training programs to develop/communicate/track fitness…

I prefer to instill in my athletes to train smart not just to train hard. It’s not the same thing. The former comes, many times, with wasted hours of empty miles. The latter comes with training done efficiently and uses time maximally with training specificity. The secret to a successful team of coach/athlete is that the training plan has developed into a “training footprint” of the athlete. This comes through constant communication/feedback from both sides, coachability of the athlete, insight into life’s dynamics (juniors have a unique set – school, family life, relationships, growth patterns, learning responsibility…) and the coach’s intuition.  I prefer to take a long-term approach, particularly with a junior’s development of fitness and specialization. If the junior happens to win because he raced wisely with his energy, skills and tactics …bonus. To focus on short-term goals of simply being the first one across the line, is a hit ‘n miss mentality that should be avoided. Saying that, I do recognize the need for performance goals, however, task goals have a more stable platform whose benefit usually ends up to be a solid performance that unearths a rider’s potential.

Juniors are definitely not the cornerstone of any coaching business and thus my clientele has been Masters riders who have a discretionary fund to employ a coach as a part of their “team.” The last time I coached a number of juniors, was when I lived in Canada and was a volunteer coach of a local team. This was in the same area and timeframe when Mike Barry was a Junior. It was very good junior racing. In 1990, the Ontario Cycling Association voted me as Ontario Coach of the Year and it was, in large part, due to this junior team, of which their performances were a part of the mix. Like Mike Barry, they are in their late 30’s now.

Here is a link to the USA Development Program for Juniors that would be a good resource for some of your questions down the road ( It outlines a number of options for a junior to  further develop his skills and get racing experience both domestic and, eventually, at the international level.  

My Best,


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