Buddy Antunez | Youthful Advice
Buddy Antunez has found a fitting role in the sport since retiring from professional racing: The multi-time Arenacross champ is now one of the most sought after riding coaches in Southern California. Nearly every time we go to the local track, we see “Budman” helping the next generation of young riders with their technique on the track. We recently spent a few moments with Antunez and asked what it takes to get the most from a young rider with endless energy. While these tips are directed towards the youth of the sport, they can be just as useful to pros and vets alike.
Common Mistakes Made
I see amateur kids not putting their body in the right position to stay ahead of the bike and being able to maneuver the bike they way they always want to. Sometimes the bike goes where it wants to and not where they put it.
The next thing I see a lot, and even a lot of pro guys, is how high they put their legs in a rutted turn. Something as simple as that could make all of the difference in exiting the turn correctly or having that leg behind you and scrubbing off speed.
When to sit in a turn is something I work on with my kids, and we are able to dissect the rut a little bit and do what we need, even if it’s not the most comfortable. We learn to transition and sit down earlier so they can get on the throttle earlier. Or if the rut is messed up, we will stand up a little longer. You need to know what to do through each rut to get through with the most momentum that you can.
Instill Proper Habits At A Young Age
With the racing today a lot of kids are being coached. You will see all of the kids learning things earlier, and that has been a key to my success with amateur racing, because I am able to teach the kids before they would have learned naturally on their own. We’ve sped up the process a little bit, but they still struggle with getting it right all of the time. They are not professionals yet, so we are always still working.
Small Kids On Big Bikes
Being a lighter kid on a heavier bike has to come through technique. You can’t put an eight year old in a gym, and I don’t even suggest that you start in a gym until you are between ages sixteen and eighteen. Even then it needs to just be body weight because you are growing at that particular time. I feel like if you know the basic fundementals, you can ride anything. To ride it at a high level and get used to the weight, it takes time. Then your muscles get used to the weight of the bike and so on. There are a lot of ideas that go on in amateur racing, like you shouldn’t move a kid up until they weigh a certain amount or they are a certain height. But some kids don’t hit their growth spurts until much later and they age out of the class, so sometimes you have smaller kids riding on bigger bikes. At that point you really have to be on top of what they are learning and doing on the bike.
Confidence is the key for me, and that is what makes these kids faster and believe they can do something. It is a tough process, because if I go out and teach them something and they only get out of five things right, I praise what they got right. If they got a couple, they are going to get more and it is just a matter of repetition. They will keep coming back to learn more.
Tapping Endless Energy
I run a pretty tight program and usually they want to know how long they will go and what they have to do so they can get psyched up and ready for it. But, when we come in for a break and they start bouncing around with each other, I know they are ready to be back n the track again.