Survival Skills Rider Training

Any course of training needs feedback. But at the end of a tiring session of on-road coaching, verbal debriefs are often wasted on the trainee, who's tired and likely to have a head saturated with new information. Feedback is essential - but spending a lot of time discussing the training immediately post-training isn't the answer. Find out how Survival Skills approaches the issue.

From the very first course I ran in 1997, I realised that each trainee needed information which allowed the trainee to assess their performance relative to the advanced rider training course they had just taken. This feedback is what allows the learner to continue their improvement after the course because it shows where they have performed soundly, and where some work is still needed. So feedback is an essential element in helping a trainee continue to improve by focusing their time and effort to maximum effect. Motorcycle training lacking feedback is missing half the course! 

Until last spring, I provided a written end-of-course debrief. after a Survival Skills advanced rider training course. Each ran to several pages, and not only detailed what had been achieved during the on-road session but provided a framework for future development. They went out by email a few days after the course.

But there's a problem with written feedback. Ideally, a riding coach can check the trainee's understanding of any particular issue on a motorcycle course by asking the learner to talk about why they did what they did. Written feedback tends to be one-way - even if I ask searching questions, most trainees wouldn't actually respond. And so they missed out. 

Of course, COVID has pushed us all out of our comfort zone and we've been forced to modify working practices. Many of us worked from home and got used to using Zoom and other video conferencing tools. And I was no exception - debriefs (and pre-ride briefings too) are now held online using Zoom.

Each debrief has become a 'mixed media' combining video footage from the ride which I am able to cut and trim, then recombine to cover specific points. As I play the video back, we can pause and repeat it in order to discuss particular incidents. I can also call on a 'whiteboard' to sketch things out, and a library of standard photos and diagrams that I keep to illustrate particular issues.

Most importantly, the online debriefs are now interactive and generate a discussion, not just a sheet (or even several sides) of paperwork that you take home and glance at, never to look at again. We are able to discuss points in-depth as  I get to hear YOUR side of the story too, and as we've just seen, that's a REALLY important benefit. Explaining just WHY you made a particular decision - or realising that something just 'happened' because you weren't thinking about that particular eventuality at that moment - is a hugely important learning opportunity in a way that really benefits you, the trainee.

The Zoom debrief lasts about an hour and is an integral part of the course. 

Any time I have a free slot, mornings, afternoons and evenings, to suit you. I do recommend that we get the debrief scheduled within a week or so of the course. 

I'll let Patricia answer that, after her Survival Skills Performance: BENDS course on my Essex routes: 

"...having just had a debrief via Zoom, I can safely say I was much more in a state of mind to take in information and comments than after the actual ride. Besides, during a debrief at home you can sit with a cup of coffee, no distractions (except cats), take notes, go through video footage in minute detail on a larger screen etc. Also, as debriefs are scheduled to everyone's convenience, you can choose a time to suit.

I just finished the excellent BENDS course and have learned shedloads, not just from the ride but also from the follow up. Yes, the chitchat is a bit lacking when not being face to face but that's not what it is about. I can highly recommend this way of teaching and, as a former ROSPA candidate, I can now say that I have been given more material to work with on the road in this course that has been practically useful than I have had before. I, for one am quite happy."

In short, the debriefs on a Survival Skills course go into a depth I doubt you'll find on most other rider training courses.

As I have emphasised many times, my training is firmly client-centered and you don't get a 'one-size fits all' syllabus nor a standardised riding test to prove you have mastered the content with Survival Skills.

And you don't get standardised debriefs and feedback either. 

All Survival Skills courses are based on the need to correctly identify hazards, assess the risk they pose, then employ PRO-ACTIVE risk mitigation strategies that deal with the WORST CASE SCENARIO. Will the car pull out? What will we do about it? Will the bend tighten up? What will we do about it? Will the overtake go wrong? What will we do about it? Developing, then using proactive skills to assess and manage threats helps us stay out of trouble.

And if things DO go wrong, we need a pre-planned strategy to stay out of trouble. Do we have a 'Plan B'? Can we change speed? Can we change position? 

Avoidance where we can. Evasion where we can't. Those are our Survival Skills.

So if you're looking for a course that will genuinely improve your riding, and push your threat awareness and response to new levels, then why not give me a buzz?