Q&A with Matt Dewhurst, Head Coach at MyTriClub Dubai
Ironically, Matt Dewhurst comes from Bolton UK, one of the most iconic Ironman destinations in Europe. He moved to the UAE originally as a football coach but helped Ben Parnell at MyTriClub Dubai when it was set up three years ago, working his way up to Head Coach.
Matt is age group podium winner at the Dubai Ironman70.3 but considers his best achievements to be ‘winning the 2017 Snowman Legend in the UK and coming 10th at the European Long-Distance Championships for Great Britain in 2017.’
We met with Matt to discuss his experience working with young athletes and the specificity of being a triathlon coach.
You are a successful triathlete yourself. What made you want to become a coach?
I’ve always been involved in sports from an early age, it’s something I’m very passionate about and believe there is something for everyone out there. Some of my best memories growing up were experiences and lessons I learnt from sport. I wanted to be able to provide these experiences for other people and make a positive difference in people’s lives. Whether that leads them to living a healthy and active lifestyle, being able to achieve their dream within that sport, or helping somebody onto the path of achieving an Olympic/World Championship medal.
What are the challenges of coaching and working with young athletes?
Every athlete is different and all provide their own unique challenges. But I love that you’re working with different personalities, people in different stages of their lives and no one athlete is the same. Younger athletes usually have so much going on. They have to manage so many things such as school, physiological changes, socialising and then multi sports usually. For me with younger athletes, a lot of the time it’s ensuring they’re not doing too much. Preventing burnout and keeping that love for the sport is really important.
What are the differences between the coaching for the 3 disciplines: swimming, cycling, running?
Triathlon is very unique, having three sports in their own right to create one sport. Each discipline brings its own challenges with it. For example, how much time do you spend on each discipline, how much intensity in each discipline and again this can be very unique to the individual athlete. You will find most triathletes at the front of races which spend most of their training time swimming and cycling. As these disciplines don’t require hard contact with the ground, they are easier for the body to recover from. For running, I tend to work very much around the 80%/20% intensity. So, 80% of the time it’s low stress, low intensity running, but the remaining 20% when it is hard, it’s real quality hard work that’s done.
A lot of people think that triathlon is an individual sport. What are the benefits of being part of MyTriClub for the young?
One thing we said when we started MyTriClub was: it needs to be a community. This has led to not only athletes making friends for life, but also creating a supportive community. Regardless of they’re racing against each other or not, we share each other’s successes and push each other to get the best out of ourselves. A lot of the athletes, parents and coaches spend time with each other outside of triathlon which is invaluable.
Most races have been canceled or postponed, how do you keep your young athletes motivated?
One thing we’ve instilled in our athletes is a growth mindset. They understand what they can and cannot control. We all miss races but it’s out of our control, however we can control being in a better place for when they do return. We’ve certainly embraced Zwift, with regular races on there that’s helped with our competitive urges that we all have as athletes.
As a head coach, which Covid 19-measures are you taking? How different is your coaching now with the pandemic going on?
As a club and a company, we have to follow the guidelines set by the Dubai Sports Council, the facilities and our own policies which have been put in place. We have to make sure social distancing is maintained, all equipment is being cleaned immediately after an individual has used it, temperature checks upon arrival as well as limiting groups sessions to a certain number of participants. It has certainly changed the way I coach, I have to be more aware of the things myself and what the athletes are doing to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy.
As triathletes, we all know how important it is to keep your gear clean and organised. Which advice do you give to your athletes regarding the maintenance of their gear?
Triathlon can be a costly sport at times but if you don’t look after your equipment it can become really expensive, though it really doesn’t have to be. My advice here is very simple: once you’ve used something, clean it and store it away appropriately. An example would be your bike: we are lucky here that it doesn’t rain often but sand can destroy bike components if it’s left unwashed. A simple quick rinse and wipe post ride, or post swim with your wetsuit will help well along the way!
What is the best piece of advice or lesson that you have ever received from a coach in your career as an athlete?
Ignore what everyone is doing and focus on what you can do today to get better. We live in a world where a lot of stuff is accessible. You can see other athletes’ photos, videos and training sessions on social media platforms. Get structure to your training (via yourself or a coach), trust the process, follow the plan and work towards being better then you were yesterday. The results will come.
Congratulations Matt for leading the next generation of triathletes and for your personal sports achievements. We at Sported think you are a wise coach and will continue to follow your successes. All the best with the upcoming season!
Read more about one of Matt’s successful mentees:
For more information about MyTriClub Dubai: https://mysportsacademydubai.com/mytriclub/