A ‘Sensei’ has to be old

If you follow my monthly topics, then you might have noticed the red line to the struggle of riders on mental focus – so let’s stay on this topic and clear something up at the same time. This goes mainly out to the track riders and racers.

It seems that there is a wrong picture of what a teacher has to look like and be capable of. Sometimes I hear things like “Coach is to old”, or “He raced in the 80’s, that was different back then.” The conclusion seems to be that because I’m older, I can’t teach them anything. This is wrong and misguided, so let me throw a light into the dark tunnel for you.

Of course I am not as fast as I once was, but I actually still have the fire of a thousand suns in me when I’m on track, and I can rip lap times at Laguna Seca Raceway that would make active racers quite nervous, even when the years on me have replaced my 6-pack with a beer belly. Even when I am a little hip-lame… I still know what it takes to achieve Pole Positions, International Pro Racing victories, and even lap records. And here’s the deal… besides technology and tires – we’re still fighting the same old element… gravity.

Still not convinced? Remember Karate Kid’s Mr Miyagi? How about Yoda? Or Panda’s Master Shifu? They are all old, and they mentor their students to become hero’s anyway. Yea… I know. That’s all Hollywood?! So what about reality- like Coach Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots for example? He’s old and he keeps creating winning teams. Just recently I saw a documentary about Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl ending carrier. Here’s a multi-million dollar NFL player who got hip-lame himself and loaded with mental blocks. This man had a coach on his side- a 72 year old Sensei!

Does that mean that his sensei was expected to throw the damn ball further than record holder Manning? Was it necessary for his sensei to be quicker out of the pocket? Should his sensei have been mentally and physically strong enough to get past a 280-pound linebacker and throw a touchdown anyway? NO, but his sensei helped him on a way different level, and all what that 100 Million dollar MVP and multiple record holder was replying to his sensei was- ‘Yes Sir’ and ‘Yes Coach’!

Still not seeing the comparison? How about a basketball coach who is 2 ft smaller than his player- or a hockey coach who can no longer skate fast and handle a puck like a 20-year old. They may not be able to play the game, but they know what it takes to be a success in the game. They know what to say- when to say- and how to say!

So here is the logic, which I believe got lost with all those track day instructors who believe that a 10 minutes ‘workout’ and a succinct tip in regard ‘body positioning’ is all what it takes to be a good teacher. At a certain level of an athlete, a coach on the sideline is working just fine. I as a coach, see weak spots to delete, strengths to develop, tailor a race strategy, finding details to improve in the skill set and most important to mind set a competitive nature, because I know what to say- when to say- and how to say!

For this, I don’t have to be with the racer on the track to ’skate faster’ to proof credentials. Though, I bet I even can help a Top-Gun racer to drop lap times also with his riding skill set, because I’ve been there too. At that point to mention MotoGP. Even some of those guys have coaches too. Are they riding with them?! No, because how should that be even possible?!

You’re asking why I put this on the mental side?… well, you might shut yourself down with that type of thinking, and might miss out on something that finally could get you on the path you always wanted to walk… the path to success on the race track. If you still don’t see that the problems are between your ears, then you keep fighting wind mills. But if you are ready- come see me and I might help you to become a mighty Jedi.

Headcoach Can Akkaya, Sacramento 04/25/2018
10 replies
  1. Dean Lonskey
    Dean Lonskey says:

    Well said Coach! People seem to forget that with age comes wisdom. They only way you getbthisvis with experience. The only way you get experience is to do something. The only way you can teach someone correctly is to have ALL of this. Yes, I’ve learned from my friends what my basic weaknesses are and have learned to trust my ability more and more. I’ve learned even more being around and watching Coach Can on and off the track these last 5 years. I’m not saying this just because we’ve become friends, but I’m saying this from experience. As I’ve said many times, I’ve been riding motorcycles for over 40 years, street and dirt, and I’m still learning. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a TRUE Coach and now I do….THANKS COACH!!!

    Reply
  2. Tim
    Tim says:

    i can’t believe people are serious when saying the coach can’t be old – he has to have a ton of experience behind his shoulders
    it much more than just be faster on the track, a lot of other factors are more important like charisma, ability to teach, patience (not sure if its about Can, ha ha) etc

    Reply
  3. CHRIS LOCKWOOD
    CHRIS LOCKWOOD says:

    Well said, your point about being closed minded and missing out on something is spot on. You will always leave with a little nugget of information from any type of training, it could be from a side bar conversation and so forth. I have attended a very well known and pricey motorcycle course (my first one), I think I could have been a little more successful if I would have known a little tidbit Coach briefly mentioned in Day 1, I think of that little tidbit all the time, and am looking forward to using it one day. Thanks Coach for your mentorship. Tchüss…

    Reply
  4. Mike
    Mike says:

    Coach is correct! Experience IS the BEST teacher! Experience indicates practice and discipline. When I was growing-up we were told to ‘respect our elders’ They had been there. if you want to know your way out-of-the-woods….ASK the guy coming out-when you are going in!
    I respect coach Can and what he brings to his classes. He brings it with dignity and concern for his students!

    Reply
  5. Aleks
    Aleks says:

    Dean says, “The only way you get experience is to do something.” – I would like to elaborate on that: The only way you get experience is doing and FAILING at something many times, getting closer and closer to success.” – The hardest part of teaching is not being an expert, the hardest part is remembering all the little steps you took to get there. You may remember what it was the first day you learned a new skill, and maybe even two or three major milestones to mastery. That makes you an expert. What makes someone a good teacher is remembering the 237 other steps in between that the student also needs to be guided through.

    Reply

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