Photos: Martti Kuoppa, Terry Adams, Robby Klein, The Agency Photo.
To be coached is relatively a new thing for flatland, some people I have talked to frown when I mention this, others see value and results in being coached (if you are competing). Martti Kuoppa, is as far as I know, the first flatland coach in our history, that uses his personal experiences from years of commuting at the highest level to help others improve their contest riding, and thus…. results.
It was no accident, Martti Kuoppa is one of the most successful contest riders in flatland history, his preparation was in-depth and gruelling, and when you team him up with one of the current most successful riders on the contest scene, Terry Adams the mind boggles at the potential….
Terry Adams combined forces with Martti Kuoppa during the latter part of 2018, ending the the 2019 season with a very respectable 4th place at the UCI World Championships in Chengdu, China.
I wanted to know more, and get into the in’s and out’s, what can Terry Adams, one of the most consistent contest rider get out of being coached to improve his performances I wondered?
Grab a cuppa, sit down and take in this really insightful interview with two of the best riders to do it. Welcome to the Martti Kuoppa & Terry Adams Flatmattersonline Interview….
Terry: Martti has been coaching you for a while now, Terry. When did you start? What made you decide you needed a coach, is it something more than being consistent as your already very dialled?
I started in December of 2018 with Martti. I made the decision after my son was born that I was going to start competing again. I want to show my son that anything is possible in life, so my goal quickly became being the best contest rider I could possibly be. I have my entire life invested in flatland, so I wanted to make sure I make the next 5-10 years of competing a success. I’m the type of person that’s not afraid to ask for help or admit that I could use some guidance. I reached out to Martti right after I put those contest goals in place. I needed someone on my team that understood how bad I wanted to be at the top, and he quickly became that person after our first conversation.
Terry and Martti: How do you guys say Terry is consistent enough?
Martti: I have a tracking system for all the combos that are included in the competition run. In a nutshell each combo is tracked on its own. I call them combo 1, combo 2, combo 3 etc. So, let´s say Combo 1 is just 60% consistent and combo 2 is 80% and combo 3 is 70%, combo 4 is 50%. This would make the overall consistency % to 65%
That is not very consistent to be honest. My tracking also tracks if the rider landed the combos on first try, how many times within 5 tries etc. So, if the rider wants to do a flawless, or 1 touch run in a competition the home practice should be minimum 80 % – 90+%. That is when we can realistically start expecting flawless runs on that contest floor.
Terry: I’ve always been pretty dialled, but I had never reached my full potential of being able to ride consistent in any situation, so these are the things we started working on and continue to work on. Martti’s system is detailed, and much more efficient than my old style of 5 in a row. We are really able to go back, and see which parts of my combos really need the extra work.
Terry and Martti: I presume there’s a lot of self analysis that goes into this process?
There is, but also one of the main things I am teaching is to stop thinking, and over analysing. Thinking the right angles, and correct speed etc. can take you only that far. The whole idea of all the repeat type of practice is to get all the movements, so automatized that you don´t need to think about any of those details. You just be with them, and feel the right angle and feel the correct speed you need to have for the trick. If you think about the technical aspects of the trick during the actual motion, you are concentrating on the wrong place at the wrong time. I´d say: Think less and feel more!
Terry: pretty quickly I knew the tricks that I was going to need more work on, because Martti had me document my very first session, before we started. It’s insane to look back and see how far I’ve came since that day. I am now able to ride without as much thought. My body is doing the movements without much hesitation.
Terry: What’s your long term goal with being coached?
Terry:My goal is to ride at my highest level possible in competitions for the next 5 years. Martti will be apart of that entire journey, so I’m looking forward to the moments when we will celebrate the wins together.
Martti: What would a success story out of this coaching Martti?
This can be explained in many levels, so I better give you bit more detailed answer than just a specific placing. First I felt I had been succeeded as a coach, and Terry has been succeeded as a rider was when he started to hit 90% overall consistency at his garage. Then, couple of times he was able to do 100% flawless riding. with his contest combos meaning that he would not do a single mistake during a 2 hour session – with his contest combos.
Then, he started to do flawless runs during the video call training, where I am acting as a judge and he is visualizing a real competition (creating pressure at his home spot).
The next phase where I started feeling success was when Terry started to do great runs in the qualifications, and the biggest success so far has been his 4th place at the UCI World Championships last year.
But more than anything, I have been amazed to see how determined Terry is, and how quickly he is able to let go of the failed contest runs. It is never easy to fly to the other side of the world, and do a not so good run, so it is an important part of all this to understand how to let go and move on towards the next challenge. We need to treasure our failures as much if not even more than successes.
Another success which is very important too, is that our friendship has become much more deeper than it ever was. That I value a lot, and that has nothing to do with good placings or flawless riding.
Terry and Martti: For the record, what is your daily routine Terry, and do you guys communicate everyday?
Martti: We communicate minimum during 5 days a week. Sometimes everyday. The practice routine changes, whenever we feel it is time to fine tune it.
Terry: Yes, we have communication almost everyday, since we have started. Normally I have a planned out week of training, but all this can change on that morning talk we have. Martti is 100% in sync with my mental and physical boundaries so if I’m a little tired or having some mental issues, he will typically change my training schedule for that day.
Terry: How long did it take you to get to the point where you feel you dialled enough for a contest?
The goals for 2019 was to get my confidence, and focus to a higher point. We already knew I had the skill level and tricks to put me in the finals at the big events like FISE, FLAT ARK, and BMX Cologne, but we needed me to attend those events to get more data on what we need to work on and change going into 2020 and beyond. I’ve been dialled before, but I’ve never trained this smart with my training.
Terry and Martti: How do you prepare for the contest setting? Practise alone? How do you reinteract the contest situation from my experience you can be dialled, but then the crowd throws another dynamic into the mix?
Martti: Yes, you are right about crowd, judges and other competitors makes the pressure different as it´s at home. We are doing video calls in regular basis, where the idea is to create similar emotions as in the competition. There are also regular meditation practice going on which helps with the ability to focus under pressure. Now I am setting up my systems the way that I can organize some battles for the riders I coach via video calls. Work in progress…
Terry: Normally I train alone, and on the weekends Martti sets up a video call for my run. It’s pretty close feeling to a contest actually. I get off my bike for 15 minutes before he calls, and I get one shot at my full contest run. He then uses that data for the following week of training.
Terry and Martti: Let’s talk about the up and coming season? What kind of analysis do you leading up to an event and after?
Martti: With last year’s run Terry made it to top 4 in the biggest competitions. And that run had 1 mistake that was followed by the same trick where the trick was not executed 100% correctly. So, in a way there was 1.5 mistakes. Now we know how far that run takes Terry. And we can compare it to other riders, and their runs and their placings. Of course, what we don´t know is how the other riders are tuning their runs for this season, so we can just focus on Terry’s run.
So, this year there are some critical changes on his run, and that run is much stronger than his 2019 run. That is the analysis we do. Then after the event, we of course talk about all the details what went great and what did not go as planned and we learn from there.
Terry: Exactly what Martti just said, that’s the process.
Martti: You went to the UCI WORLDS last year, what were some of the observations you made about Terry’s Riding? Do you make notes, or purely mental observations?
Terry was able to ride very focused and clean in the midst of a very high pressure situation, and it was great to be there and feel the energy of all that. I don´t need to make notes, because I am having all of my focus on the run so I don´t want to let go my eyes off him, or the judges even for 1 second. Yes, I watch the judges too when I watch the contest hehe. Just a small side note. The reason why I do that is that once upon a time I was in a very big contest and one of the judges was eating a sandwich during someone’s run. Then someone pulled something at the same time this judge dropped something from his sandwich, and this judge felt it is more important to pick up that cucumber or pickle than watch this ride complete his trick. Now, that was quite extreme example and most likely won’t happen at the UCI events, but still it has become a habit for me.
Terry and Martti: In what ways do you think you can improve your riding Terry? And Martti, how do you see Terry making it to the podium at the Fise contests?
Martti: Podium is very close, and it is a matter of continuing the work with same style we have been doing, and the podium becomes reality. However, the podium is a nice goal, but more than that, riding good in the finals is much better goal.
Terry: There will always be work and improvements to do, it’s the things we decide to work on that is most important. I’m looking forward to my riding becoming more fluid, solid, and modern. These things are well in motion with the work we have put in.
Terry and Martti: On reflection what’s been your most successful event in 2019? And do you both agree on it?
Martti: UCI World Championships.
Terry: We were both happy with my performance in China. Also I was very happy with my performance at FlatArk.
Terry and Martti: What events are you prioritising in 2020? Does training go up or go down so you don’t burn out?
Martti: When the rider is as motivated as Terry I don’t see a change for a burn out. And also, communicating about riding and emotions is active all of the time which helps Terry to let go some of that steam if it builds up inside of him.
Terry: I do not have the personality to get burned out from training. I have 25 years invested in this, so my goal to get where I want is top priority right behind my family.
Martti: What do you feel it will take for Terry to podium and perhaps win an event?
Follow the process.
Martti and Terry: What’s happening now the coronavirus pandemic has hit us all? Are you keeping up with practise Terry? Martti how does this affect your training methods?
Martti: Why wouldn’t I keep up with the practice with Terry? This is an ongoing process, and there will be the next contest. We just don´t know right now when, but it is coming. So, it would not be very smart to stop the process until we hear the news of the contest schedule. It affects the training the way that we are not aiming to peak his level for now. It is more about maintaining the current level, and not pushing it to the peak. And we can work with the mental aspects during this time which is as important as the combos training.
Terry: Right now we have a choice of getting through the pandemic. and being a better rider after it’s over or slowing the training down to potentially having it set me back… of course I’m going to push forward, and I believe everyone should. Some of my tricks have some risk aspects to them, so we are definitely keeping that in mind. Last thing anyone wants right now is a trip to the hospital with all this going on, so we have pulled a couple tricks from my training to be a bit safer.
Martti: Would like to thank Flatmatters for taking time to do this interview. It is great to share a bit of insight on what we are doing over here. Major props for Terry for doing 100% what I am asking him to do. When striving to the podium in the biggest comps out there, it is not an easy task for anyone and it takes tons of dedication with hard work to make it happen.
I would also thank all the other riders I am coaching for being very dedicated riders and following the process! And shout out to all the people out there sending me positive messages on the tripod style videos I am filming of myself! And of course shout outs to my family, Karita and Frida for putting a smile on my face. And last but not least I would like to send a message to every single rider out there who are facing the difficulties currently due to the coronavirus pandemic: Sun will shine again. And there will be time that you are free to do what you want and where you want. Do whatever you can at the moment to maintain the touch with your bike. Even a little bit like 5 minutes a day if you are locked in your home. And if that is not possible, you can do 5 minutes / day some exercises with your mind to deal with all of this better.
Terry: I’d like to thank Martti for all the hardwork he has done with my riding since we have started the program. I’m thankful to have him in my life, not only as coach but this process and made us so close as friends. My mom for watching Ledge for all of my 2019 morning sessions. I could have not done it without her. My wife Vanessa for standing behind me on this journey as it would not be possible without her support. Huge shoutout to Mickey Gaidos for so much inspiration over the last few months. It’s been amazing to be apart of his journey back into riding and feeding off each other as friends and riders has been insanely awesome. Last I want to thank my sponsors Red Bull, Profile Racing, Deco, Tiger Balm, Raising Canes, and Grind Legacy for also standing behind me on this journey.
Effraim: Thanks Terry and Martti, that was awesome to catch up and shed some light on this coaching process. Really interesting subject in my opinion. I hope you all enjoyed this one at home…