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Keys to Confidence & Having a Breakthrough in your Sport!

September 09, 2019

Shannon Mahre is not just an amazing athlete, she's also an incredible coach. She has multiple coaching ventures and helps athletes of all levels achieve their goals in mountain biking, SUP, skiing, and trail running, just to name a few. She was kind enough to share her wisdom to help YOU push yourself to what you want to be achieving. Ready for a breakthrough? Shan tells us what it takes. 
Shannon Mahre mountain bike coaching
Tell us about your coaching businesses!
MADE is our new over-arching coaching brand. Andy (my husband) began coaching alongside me last year and after he expressed even more interest, I decided that I needed a new, more masculine brand that we could market to both sexes. But that doesn't mean that Girls with Grit is gone. The fem side of MADE is now Girls with Grit, and it's stronger than ever. Andy and I now expanded our offerings to include clinics, lessons and classes for Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Trail Running, Yoga, HIIT & Adventure Retreats that can include any of the sports that we offer coupled with a stay at a cabin in the mountains with nutritious macro-based meals.
What’s your coaching philosophy/goals when you teach?
As a coach, my goal is to help all of my clients and athletes progress safely while building their confidence every step of the way. I teach the mental and the physical sides of learning a skill before having my students put the 2 together to try it out for themselves. Many women (and men) need to know that they can do the skill (and have all the steps figured out) in their minds before they can successfully physically do the skill. The melding of these two sides are what truly helps the skills that I teach stick with them through their progression. The mind plays a crucial role in learning - so until we get your mind in the right head space, the body is never going to truly accomplish what we are trying to make it do.

What are common blocks to success that you see when you're coaching?
The biggest block that I see as a coach is fear. So when this block comes up, I always ask the same questions: What are you afraid of? What's the worst that could happen? When you break down fear, you not only take away its power, but you also figure out how to get over what exactly you are afraid of. Building confidence and conquering fears are the two building blocks of whatever class, clinic or workshop I am teaching. The more empowered we all become, the further we can help each other progress and level up in every aspect of our lives.
Women hiking
What differences have you observed in the way women and men approach
challenges/learning? How does that affect your coaching? What are
benefits from learning from a woman?
One of the main differences that I have observed is that many men do not need to be "comfortable" mentally with learning new skills before they can do them. The fear factor is much less there - and therefore, when I teach them the physical steps, most of them can do the skill without having to coax their mental side to be on board. With women on the other hand (myself included), it is imperative to tackle the mental and physical sides together - because one without the other does not conquer a skill. For example, when I teach my students drops and jumps on a bike, I make sure that they are mentally and physically ready before I send them off the next size jump. Why? Because if the mental side is not in tune with the physical side, they won't put all the steps together that they need too - and they'll most likely end up "falling off" the jump (basically just holding on for dear life) or they'll just wing it - both of which are very dangerous. A slow progression in learning skills is key to building confidence - and it allows the mind and the body to stay in tune with each other as they progress together.
What’s the one thing you’d emphasize to build confidence?
Figure out what you are afraid of. Break it down. Are you afraid of falling? Are you afraid of looking "dumb?" Are you afraid of hurting yourself? All of these fears can be broken down and moved past, but looking them in the face is the very first step. The key to not making your fears become reality is the slow progression - it's finding a good coach that will teach you the steps to success instead of sending you off to figure it out for yourself, it's listening to your mind when it says "you are not ready today", because when learning and in life, that is and always should be okay. The word "can't" should never be in your vocabulary - in fact, I don't allow it in any of my clinics or classes. Instead, I tell my students to say "not yet", because with time, we will get them there.

What keeps you motivated to train and improve?
When I was 21, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer - just a week before finals of my senior year at under-grad. I'd always been driven, but that experience changed the way I lived my life more than I could ever imagine. I became more driven, and more okay with following my own path instead of following the path of others. By 22, I had my MBA, which I had gotten while at the same time working 40-60 hours a week. From there, I worked 2-3 jobs while growing my photography business, and now, I run 3 companies with a 3 year old by my side as well as continually train as an ultra trail runner and sponsored athlete (ski, mountain bike, SUP, running). Motivation is personal - but I've found that my motivation comes from a love for all that I do and all that I want to accomplish. As I always like to say, it's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.

Do you focus more on cardio or strength (and why)?
Currently, I am trying to do a good 50/50 mix of the two - but because I am an endurance athlete, I also do a ton of cardio. My cardio training schedule mixes trail running with speed workouts at the track as well a mountain biking - and my strength workouts mix body weight training at home with heavier weights and WODs at my local gym, Cascadia Fitness.
Woman mountain biking
What’s your personal approach to dealing with fear?
The same approach that I teach my students. Figure out what you are afraid of. Look it in the face. Then tear it down by figuring out the steps you need to take to make those fears not become a reality.

How do you deal with an ‘off’ day? We all have them!
Today, there are no bad days, just days that I may not accomplish what I set out to do, and days that things just keep going horribly wrong. The key to these days is not letting them defeat you, but instead to help them make you stronger. The "worst" days of my life have made me the strongest - they've made me figure out what I need to do differently and what I was doing wrong. They've helped me to become the women I am today... and I am thankful for them.

What are the keys to having a breakthrough in sport?
Setting goals, and figuring out how to reach them. And with that, finding a solid progression that your mind and body are both comfortable with... because leaving one side behind will only get you so far.

What makes a great coach? If people aren’t lucky enough to learn from
you, what should they look for in a coach?
Find someone that believes in you more than you believe in yourself. Find someone that you can trust, so that when you ask, "Am I ready", you know they are going to give you the honest, true answer. And finally, find someone that inspires you, that makes you want to succeed, makes you want to be better, but most importantly, someone that makes you love yourself for who you are in this moment - because self love and happiness are truly the key to success in every aspect of your life.
Shannon Mahre


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