Does Your Pee Wee Rider Have A Million Dollar Future?
Advice for Parents
With top riders in motocross now earning four, five, and six million dollar salaries riding for motorcycle manufacturers and a lot of outside the industry sponsors, it’s easy for parents to start thinking their son could be the next motocross sensation. Most motocross kids will not grow up and achieve the stellar success of a Ricky Carmichaels or Bubba Stewart. But some young riders, although not quite destined for superstar status, may have the potential to make a very respectable living racing motocross and supercross. How can a parent determine if a child has what it takes to do well in the sport of professional motocross/supercross? And what steps should parents take if their child seems to have the necessary talent and determination to make it into the pro ranks?
The first way to judge whether a child has pro potential is if he or she can’t get enough of it, they just absolutely love to be on the bike. If the child wants to ride all the time and go to every race, that’s a key indicator. On the other hand, if he frequently tells you he doesn’t feel like riding and wants to skip races, then you know he’s missing an important ingredient for success in the sport. The second sign to watch for is competitiveness. A child happy just to joy ride will probably not develop professional level skills. He’s got to have the desire to race and test his ability and challenge other riders.
You’re not going to know for sure whether your child really has pro potential until just before adolescence, around 10 to 12 years of age. Up until then, they might not seem very good. But by 12, their talent, if present, should be plainly visible.
A young rider destined for the pros will be constantly progressing in his skills. You’ll see a steady improvement in his riding and racing throughout the season. But if he stays at the same level for a whole season, unless there’s a problem with the bike or track time, it could be a sign that he’d make a better doctor than a professional rider.
Parents who spot potential in their child should arrange to let him have lots of track time. He should be riding at least three days a week and racing on the weekends, almost every weekend. Three practices a week where he’s getting at least an hour and a half of actual seat time. That’s the minimum to be able to progress and make improvement. Parents spotting talent in their child should bring in a professional instructor as soon as possible. After the child has been riding for at least four or five months and has the basics down then he should start getting some instruction before he develops bad habits. It’s important that the instructor be properly qualified so the rider isn’t getting the wrong information. Even though getting an early start is an advantage, parents and riders shouldn’t give up professional aspirations if the child is introduced to the sport at a very young age. Ideally, the rider will have started by at least age 11 or 12. But Jeremy McGrath didn’t start riding and racing until he was fourteen, although Jeremy was competitive in BMX before that time. And John Dowd really didn’t get into steady racing until he was 20 or 21. Although these are two exceptions to the norm, it does prove it’s still possible to reach the top without a very early start. So it basically comes down to this: If a rider’s going to be good, he’s going to be good. If he’s not, he’s not. He either has the potential or he doesn’t. If he does have the potential he has to consistently hone and polish that potential. If he doesn’t have that God gifted talent, well there’s nothing you, he or anyone else can do about it. Sure he or she can still be competitive and have some success and fun racing but in order to make it to the top that miracle of talent will have to be in their arsenal.
My advice to parents who think their kids might have what it takes to go pro is to provide the child with plenty of opportunity to ride and learn – but don’t force him. This is where many parents make a mistake. They get more interested in riding and racing than their child, and force him onto the track to be competitive when the kid himself isn’t really into it. If the child himself doesn’t want to get out there three or four times a week, then that’s an indication he doesn’t have the necessary interest in the sport to do well. You want to see how much the rider himself is driven to ride and just go from there.
I hope this helps.
Keeping an attitude of gratitude,
Professional Motocross Trainer
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