Merijn Zeeman, alumnus of the Master in Coaching, is head coach at Team LottoNL-Jumbo and explains their preparations for The Tour
After the sponsor Rabobank left, we went through some uncertain years. We were very lucky we could count on the loyal support of a number of individuals and companies. We are now sure that under the guidance of Richard Plugge, we can work on Team LottoNL-Jumbo until 2018. How do we ensure that every team member goes through fire for their fellow teammates, and what’s the best way to be optimally prepared for races?
To quote the words of Johan Cruyff, “Alone you can’t do anything, you must do it together.” We did a part of the preparations with the Airmobile Brigade. They know better than anyone how important it is to rely on each other – when you’re fighting for your life a strong team is crucial! We learned a lot; as a team we are much closer together.
Team LottoNL-Jumbo works with a large team of experts and coaches, who work intensively with the riders. We analyze all opportunities for each race and what we want to achieve as a team. Additionally, we use all different kinds of angles, such as scientific knowledge and practical experience. Many coaches have been professional cyclists and know the drill. This provides intense discussions.
All the races of the World Tour are important, but the Tour de France is by far the biggest and most complex event: the logistics is a huge puzzle, and all the training and preparation programs for each individual rider have to be figured out. And it all has to come together to produce the strongest team possible during the entire tour, which lasts three weeks. In June, our trainers, Louis Delahaije and Mathieu Heijboer, supervise a high altitude training camp which provides a strong base for high performances in July. After the camp, but before the Tour, we ride the Tour de Suisse in Switzerland, where the athletes have an opportunity to make a final effort to improve their performances as riders, and as a whole team.
As a coach, I always feel that drive to develop the team, the athletes, and also myself! That’s why I studied the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute. My biggest challenge is –and this applies to every coach– to check out everything for myself first, before I focus on others. For an optimal performance of the team, I believe it’s extremely important that there is a connection between all team members. That everybody feels comfortable and can be themselves, and that there is a safe environment where there is room for vulnerability. It is then that a coach can be sharp, critical and confrontational, in order to get the best out of the team and the individual athletes.
Johan Cruyff put it very nicely and it is the main motto in coaching: “You can only coach others if you know how to coach yourself”. It hits the nail right on the head! In that respect, I keep on learning every day and it’s my main motive to continue this work, with the passion that I feel for it. Inspiration drives my work. Working all together with a group of athletes and coaches towards a target, is there a more wonderful thing in the world?
Related study programs
Johan Cruyff Institute uses a rich learning environment that fosters educational tools based on a
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