On the back of the bike, you learn nothing

B Brinkman
3 min readFeb 11, 2021


Our children were able to ride a bike early on. So being on the back of the bike was short lived. They found the fact that they could ride a bike far too much fun. A world literally opened up to them. The elementary school was on the other side of town. More or less deliberately chosen, a Dalton school instead of the regular elementary school in the neighborhood. However, the distance also meant that our children had to cycle quite a distance when they were young. They could have ridden on the back, of course, and we could have ridden beside them, but they liked cycling in front of us. We made sure that they cycled in front of us at sight and hearing distance. So they had to look left and right when crossing and stop at a traffic light.

The other day in England I noticed that children who had outgrown their toddler years still wear a harness. Such a cute little backpack with a leash. If the child walks away, you just pull on the leash. In our country there are fewer of these kinds of leashes or it must be a dog. Dogs in our country, even on a leash, have more room to play than opinion child in England. In our country you sometimes see children on the back or in one of those beautiful bike boxes, and you think, can’t that child cycle by himself?

All this made me think back to my course Neurotraining at the ITON. Lecturer Van Cranenburgh told us that children learn more from cycling next to their parents than riding on the back of their parents’ bikes. Suppose you want to teach your child to cycle safely through the city. You can put your child on the back seat and tell him what to look out for during the trip. You can also let your child ride next to you and tell him what to look out for. You learn by doing, was the moral of the story. Link execution to context.

Jamie Morrison, national coach of the Long Women, seems to change his base regularly. Sometimes I’ve thought he didn’t have a base. I think at the moment he just has a very broad base. No matter who plays, it doesn’t really make the team much worse. You can call that good selection, you can also call that damn good coaching. Also, you don’t learn sports by watching them, you learn sports by doing them. So if you want a player to perform well under pressure, this player must be given the opportunity to perform well under pressure.

It surprises me again and again how many trainers of youth teams, mini-teams or pupil teams work with a fixed basis. These are the trainers who then think they are right when a child who suddenly, out of necessity, has to fill in, fails from a distance. Earlier I described working with a clear and measurable goal, working methodically/plan-wise. One of the basic ideas behind this is the following route:

- learning under closed conditions
- learning under open conditions
- gamelike practice
- performing in a game during training
- perform in a game

In my experience, a skill is only learned when it can also be applied in a somewhat stable manner in a competition. Now, one competition is not the other. So if you want them to be able to apply something under pressure, for example at an NK, the child must also be given the opportunity to apply it under those circumstances, under that pressure. Working with a fixed base team does not fit in here. So I let all my players play. Not that you knew in advance when you weren’t playing, but on a yearly basis everyone played the same amount, so even during the 16 NK finals that I was allowed to play with my various teams, it could happen that my best player was out for a match.

You learn nothing on the back of a bicycle, and even less on the bench.



B Brinkman

Occupational health advisor, writer, sports, coaching, outside the box, INFJ