Training for a 10 year old

Maybe the book, Range, would be interesting for you? He talks about the best athletes being generalists which means that kids experience a variety of sports. 10 years old might a tad young for specific cycling training. Maybe the most you can expect is going out together and riding a few times per week.

FWIW, I quit competitive swimming at age 13 because I hated the training. The pool was cold and 9am was bad enough at age 12 but I was moving up to working out with the bigger kids at 7am. It was so dreadful. It didn’t help that the coaches didn’t teach us anything about training. They just ran us through drills like race horses. The only reason I lasted 3 years was the social scene not because the training and racing was fulfilling.

I got the cycling bug at around 13 when I got my first road bike. Sadly, I needed mentorship but nobody at the local bike shop was racing and couldn’t point me to anyone helping juniors to develop.


My variety-pack only-child is here for the snacks and the friends.

She spent every season running around that preschool soccer field doing whatever she could to stay as far away from that ball as possible :innocent:

Just leave him be.

Let him ride. Get him involved with a team. Forget formal training. All the coaches I know suggest just riding. Volume. That’s all.

My son went through a bit, he’s 18 now, but stopped competitively cycling this past year because he broke his leg and it’s still fractured. He rides still, casually.

Anyhow, don’t push. Just offer rides. He’ll go when he goes.

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I bought my 10 yo a road bike (he’s 12 now) and we went through the same thing. At first, he loved just riding 10 mph. One day I suggested he try to keep it at 12. We always start in the slightly uphill (1%) and headwind direction. So doing 12 on the hard stretch let him know he could do more and then he saw that he could maintain much higher speeds on the return trip.

Within a couple of weeks, he averaged 14 round trip. While the first few increases in speed had left him proud, excited, and enthusiastic, the “breakthrough” to 14 left him not wanting to ride anymore.

So I went out and bought myself a Kickr Bike so I could ride without him and I bought him an e-bike so I could ride with him.

I didn’t entirely give up though. One thing that always works to both get him to push while still having fun is starting little races with him. We’d be riding 2 abreast in the shoulder, I’d speed up just a bit and say “I’m winning”. He’d speed up and I’d let him win for a bit and then I’d speed up again. Pretty soon we’re doing 17 mph. I always keep it close and let him feel good. And when he’s tired, we both slow down and talk about how close the race was. We repeat this several times along the ride. What’s great about it is that he always tells me “I wasn’t in the mood to ride hard but now I feel really good - it was fun”

It will be nice when he’s fit and interested enough to ride un-assisted on my easy days. If he’s ever interested in putting in the work to race successfully, I’ll have a blast coaching him. But for now I rarely do anything to push him.

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There’s a fair bit of research out there to support the generalist idea. I work as a PE teacher and junior endurance sport coach and my experience points toward the generalis apporach being the way to go. Not only will it build a better physical foundation for whatever they wanna do in the future, but having a second sport will lessen the chance of them growing tired of cycling as well.

Try to bring in a variation of other sports/physical activities and se what they like. I can recommend skiing (both nordic and alpine) as a good match with MTB if you live where snow is available in the winter.

I coached youth wrestling for over 25 years. I’ve seen fathers ruin their relationship with their sons even though they sincerely wanted what was best for them. As much as dad loved wrestling and strengthened their character through wrestling, their son often didn’t love it the same way.

Also, some kids are just naturally more intense and focused at that age. It’s how they are wired and all the coaching and parenting in the world won’t change it. You can teach them the work others are putting in yields that result, but at that age they just won’t enjoy that intensity unless they are wired that way

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I just take my nearly 12yr old to track session run by other people for kids his age. Means that someone other than me is telling him what to do, and there are plenty of kids his age to play about with between efforts on the track.
Then we just go for rides either on the roady or MTB, and normally incorparate a icecream stop along the way.
I am very careful not to make it training as such yet. He has fun with the other kids at the sessions and likes the reward of an icecream.
Also helps that he isn’t too shabby on the bike either and winning does keep them coming back. hahahaha

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I’d keep it simple and not do anything structured within a ride, but try to motivate them to ride consistently, while keeping it fun. If they can do a couple rides a week for a few years, then that’ll pay big dividends in the future. I can’t emphasize the consistency part enough though, it doesn’t matter how hard or long, they should just get out there regularly.


Some excellent advice from all contributors.
Bravo TR forum!


I’m not sure where the OP lives, but I’d also emphasise the bike as a mode of transport, not just a sports tool. Where I grew up, we’d always ride our bikes to see our friends, to go into town, and to go to school. Riding a bike is a form of independence. I’ve recently learned that it is actually illlegal in some US states to let your kid ride to school on their own, so I don’t know if that is possible where you live.


I’ll echo what others have said and add some more anecdotes to the thread. I’m a father of two kids (8 and 12), coach of my eldest mtb club, and found joy in cycling at the age of 30 (now 39 ¾ :wink:). Based on this I have some mantras I try to uphold.

  • Internal motivation is key
  • Kids are different
  • Focus on physical activity, not creating athletes
  • Sometimes a push is needed

My kids are totally different. While my oldest is motivated by competition and likes to challenge himself, my youngest not at all. As an example, at the age of 5 my oldest rode every 100km on our biking holiday despite give the option of sitting in the bike trolley. Even on the last day with 33km in brutal head winds. My younger on the other side, we had great challenges motivating her for riding the 2km to kindergarten at the same age. She didn’t feel success or accomplishment on the top of the small hill, she just felt tired.

I see the same thing when coaching my son’s mtb group. Some kids just like to play on their bikes, some are there because “dad rides”, while others are dead serious racing machines. Planning and supporting such a group could be a challenge… But I think we have found a good recipe, focusing on the social aspect, and playing on the bike. We mix it up, and we talk to the kids to get their feedback. If at the end of a session most of them have some sweat in their hair and a smile on their face, that’s a good session. If I could contribute to these kids (and my kids) choosing an active lifestyle, then goal achieved. Because that’s what 99,99% of the population needs. That small fraction that will be athletes, even world champions, will need to find that motivation themselves. As a dad, and a coach, I’m simply setting the table for them to make this decision.

Then the “push”, which is a bit more complex… In my youth I was not pushed at all. My parents “protected” me from failure, and in retrospect this is the one thing I’m kind of p***d about. Even as an asthmatic and overweigh kid I could almost keep up with the nordic skiing kids when running during PE. As an adult cyclist my riding buddies say I have a basement below the basement. I.e. I can dig deep. It seems I have a talent for endurance sports. But I only figured this out until my early 30s when I started cycling to shed (a lot) of weight. Not saying I would have been a great athlete or anything (who knows), but this overly protective parenting never gave me the chance. Thus, I think we also need to exercise a bit of push. But the push needs to different, since kids are different. And you need to adjust based on the feedback. This winter my youngest did her longest skiing trip, and that required some pushing. When we finished, she was tired, but also very proud. She now knows she can do something she thought was impossible just days before. Perhaps this opened a door of possibilities for her, or perhaps this is the longest skiing trip she will do. I don’t know.

At 18 my cycling buddies were national level athletes in hockey and soccer, while I was overweight playing D&D and smoking a pack a day. Today I’m smoking (pun intended) them on the hills. Who knows what life had been if I had been given the option to explore this side of me more in my early years…

Sorry for the long, somewhat chaotic, and slightly off-topic post. This is something I as a parent have reflected a lot about. I believe that helping kids find their internal motivation by challenging them, by learning to fail and raise again, by supporting them, that’s what creates capable humans.


I take stories like yours to heart! I’m always thinking about my son’s future and what it might hold. Thanks for sharing that and it sounds like wise thinking.

My son was given a pretty clear ADHD diagnosis recently. Not surprising given his mother’s and my own history. I suspect hers is very real while mine is borderline that I make worse with my technology addictions. Riding helps a lot. I have to stay on top of my son at times to make sure he’s “getting the wiggles out” - his attitude is much better when he’s engaged and active. As a parent, my learning has been knowing when to push him outside and when to let him “chill” - tough to nail down every time.

To all the fellow parents here, you have my most upmost respect!


:clap: well said, and I think it’s on topic! You’re right on the “push” being complex, in our case it’s a moving target. If I never eventually pushed my son, I suspect he may not even be riding now! Luckily, he is, and generally enjoys it. I wait for vocal cues with him during the weekend to make decisions on how much ride time or other activity he needs. Last weekend for example when asked about riding plans, he sighed and said, “nah, I’m not feeling it” - we have had a lot of house projects lately so I wasn’t put out and so we just skipped it. This weekend, we’re riding!

My dad pushed me too much when I was a kid and it turned me off from sports. His thing was harescrambles (moto woods racing) so I too, eventually participated in racing. At first is was quite litterally just something I did to appease his expectations. Eventually he let go a little and I one of my best friends bought a four wheeler and we rode dirt bikes/4 wheelers all summer long. Guess who got good at riding that summer? My dad had been frustrated with my lack of progression, but was blown away by how much better I had gotten when we went out again. Making him proud, I was able to progress enough to have skills to compete locally. I was fun and it eventually led me to mountain biking later in life.

I wanted to mention this earlier too but you really are a great asset to this forum Dr Harrison! Thank you for the positive words and for sharing your perspective!


Really interesting post, a lot of that resonates with me. I was never much of an athlete at school, but now in my late 40s I like to keep in shape and enjoy my racing. However, in my area the competition is so strong that I stand no chance of seeing a podium … but I still love racing for the challenge and as a chance to test myself against my mates - and the social craic afterwards. I have a 13 year old son who is also into cycling. In the UK kids races are organised into age groups, and his birthday falls in such a way that he’s always the youngest in his race … so he’s often mid-pack as well, again unlikely to get a win or a podium (plus he does a load of other sport, so cycling isn’t his exclusive focus). I hope that what he takes away from seeing me ride is that it’s possible to get fulfilment and a sense of achievement (and build friendships) from doing something you enjoy … whether you’re at the front of the field or closer to the back.


I have no experience training kids or being a kid training for cycling. But at 10 I was swimming 3-4 times per week year round (5-6 in the summer) and doing a bunch of other sports like lacrosse and basketball along with just fun stuff like flashlight tag and whatnot. I almost definitely would not have got out on solo training rides (or even just with my parent) like I do now. The best way to train a kid is to keep it fun and to try to ‘disguise’ most of the training as fun or competition. Group rides, fun spins to a pastry shop or other location, games, etc. are all good. I did things like intervals, run laps, suicides, etc but it was always in a group setting with peers next to me as motivation and competition.

I was a swimmer too. While my mom drove me and my siblings to practice, she generally refused to drive us to the summer swim club on weekends or once the swim season was over. She did “let” us ride our bikes there though, 9 miles each way. Lazy mom or shrewd parent coaching??? Still not sure of the answer but years later I’m still riding my bike!


I am a bit of an outsider by not having kids, and never wanting them. In general, I hate being around them.

The only kids I have ever been able to tolerate were the ones I raced motorcycles with. Yes, motorcycles. The best kids out on track were the ones just out there having fun. The best kids were the ones whose parents just cheered them on. The worst kids were the ones whose parents pushed them. The kids would come off the race track and run around on razor scooters and such acting like kids. When the visor was closed, they were 100% business because THEY wanted to be there on the track and beat you.

One thing about motorcycles; it sure is hard to will someone to be fast. Hard to force a kid to burnout because it is just hard to go fast when you don’t have your own will to do so. Down side, I know too many who didn’t live long.

I think you all have this well in hand, but the FastTalk podcast hit on the topic this week:

I really wish my dad took me on bike adventures when I was a kid or taught me how to mtb. It’s tempting to really push your kids toward structure but the ones I see reach the international level (in any endurance sport) just were having tons of fun adventuring on bikes or on skis, etc. at 9/10/11/12. I don’t think there’s much to be gained from big miles as a little kid but the skills you learn when your adolescent can take you so much farther than when you’re an adult


That 3-4 times per week quickly grew to ~5 at 12yo, 6 at 14yo, and 8-9 at 16yo. I loved it the whole time until that 8-9 sessions at 23hr/wk started to really wear me out. But I liked training and competing with my group of 20 or so friends that were in my group and progressed up with me. That group of friends was the best part and there was little to no chance I would have trained even 50% of that if I had to do it by myself like I do now on the bike.

On the parent side, my parents would frequently (like 3-4 times a year) ask me if I was enjoying it and wanted to keep doing it and make it clear that it wasn’t an issue at all if I didn’t anymore. But then between that time they would push me to go to practice and work hard at what I had decided to do. There’s definitely a balance to be struck between encouraging and pushing a kid past a little fatigue or difficult time in a sport and forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.

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