Preston Pirates’ BMX club coach stresses the need for players’ individual growth

Ian Brookes, the head coach of Preston based BMX club Preston Pirates, has stressed the need for individual goal setting as the key to success for BMX riders.

The Pirates adopt a goal-oriented approach to measure the improvement of their riders – an approach that has proved fruitful in the past for them with a national and British champion in Ian Sharp.

Brookes, who has been a coach at the club for 12 years, said: “We look at specific things that the riders need to work on, on the track.

“The coaches mainly work with the riders to help them achieve their individual goals.”

Despite having more than 100 members, the club still predominantly works on this goal-oriented basis; with every rider being specifically trained according to their weaknesses identified by the coach.

So, at training, some riders will be practicing turns while others work on tricks and stability.

Brookes continued: “There is a system at the club which helps the players be the best that they can be.

“But, first and foremost, the players are here because they enjoy riding. We also have riders who don’t compete at any level but they still come down here and enjoy the sessions.”

 Photo Credit: Ashwin Shankar

A BMX rider in action at the Fishwick Recreation Ground

The Origin of the Pirates

The original club was formed in the 1980’s and based in Deepdale.  It was then resurrected by Brookes and the club members 12 years back.

“We resurrected the club and it’s been a long trip to where we are today,” he added.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the club.

The Pirates’ has spent a lot of time with the Preston City Council trying to find a suitable venue and finally decided to base the club at the Fishwick Recreation Ground on London Road.


“Delving Deep: The next step”

The mental state of any athlete plays a vital role in their performance in a competitive environment.

It is no different when it comes to BMX and Brookes is well aware of the demands of the nature of the sport on its participants.

He said: “BMX not only has physical demands but it has mental demands as well.

“The mental strength of the player to put all the training points into practice on a full lap is what takes them to the elite level of competition.”


Since the Pirates even take novice riders that have yet to be on bike on, the mental strength usually starts from within the individuals who decide to join the club. It is regularly tracked by the coaches who guide the players.

Given the quick nature of a BMX race, Brookes is aware of the pitfalls that await the riders on the track, and explained his tailor-made coaching style to help his riders avoid them.

The 48-year-old coach said: “Normally a BMX race lasts anything from 35 to 55 seconds depending on the length of the track.

“Our aim as coaches is to get them to think about the race because a lot can happen in such a short period of time.

“It’s very fast and ferocious. There are eight riders at the gate and it’s a short and narrow track.


Three bmx riders enjoy a much needed rest         Photo Credit: Ashwin Shankar

“This means that things can change quickly, and you’ve got to react quickly as a rider.”

The Preston Pirates is a GO-RIDE accredited club through the British Cycling Federation and is also funded by the BCF, the Barclays Spaces for Sport as well as the Preston City Council.