Deep Domain Expertise

ddeI spend a lot of time writing about how the key to elite level performance is practice and how you can develop skills through multi-disciplinary skill sets ie BMX skills help in 4x, 4x cross skills help in slope style, slope style skills help in BMX etc, but the truth is, there are limits.

The truth is, that while there are skills that can be transferred between disciplines, you need to make sure the skills you are developing fit with your ultimate goals. Need proof?

If we roll back the clock 8 months to Steve Peat’s Last Orders – North v South, you get to see downhill legend Steve Peat struggling for dirt jump tricks (2:50) and failing to manual more than a few feet (5:35).


Roll the clock forward to a week ago and Atherton diaries Ep.10 shows Rachel Atherton failing to wheelie more than a few feet (5:56)…..



…..the undisputed, all time fastest female downhill rider can’t wheelie more than a few feet? How does that work?

The truth is that, while developing a bank of skills is great, you need to make sure your goals are focused enough to achieve what you want to achieve. In other words, you need to develop deep expertise in the domain you’re focusing on. One of the best elite level examples of this comes in the shape of Rachel’s brother Dan Atherton. If you go back to the Atherton Project series 1, series 2 series 3 and watch them through, what it shows is Rachel and Gee concentrating on downhill racing while throwing in a bit of dirt jumping and road racing etc to supplement. Meanwhile, Dan is entering downhill competitions then dropping out because he’s not where he wants to be and entering 4x competitions and not succeeding there either so entering BMX competitions, then becoming disillusioned with this…..the one thing that stays constant throughout the 3 series is his passion and dedication to trail building. He’s repeatedly seen digging at crazy hours in the morning, you hear Rachel and Gee talking about how he spends hours/days digging and ‘tunes out’ from the world around, entering his ‘zone’ when he does it. It’s been no surprise therefore that……what do you know…..with Red Bull Hardline under his belt and Dyfi forest taking shape, Dan Atherton is one of the best and fast becoming one of the most revered elite level trail builders in the world.

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If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.



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