Jerome Chapuis long story about Trials

Jérôme Chapuis’ Story

Hi, I’m Jérôme Chapuis, and I’d like to share my story with you.

I grew up in Switzerland from a farmer family. My father – who was riding moto trials at the time – introduce us (my brother and I) to a new, similar sport that was accessible to kids: Trials Biking.

My parents decided to dedicate their time supporting us in the sport. We started competitions a few months after getting our first bikes. I did my first competition at age 6. For two years, I finished last at every single competition. I was by far the youngest competitor in the category.

Later, when I started getting better and making podiums, I wanted to succeed so much that I cried when I got second in a competition. To me, this was just not good enough. I was basically scared of not “succeeding”. That was my way of having grit. From age 9, I started to win pretty much in every kids category.

This is how, from a very young age, I started to dedicate my whole life to increasing my skills and performances. You will see that there is no such things as easy paths to the quest of personal success. In reality, “personal success” doesn’t exist, it is just a matter of “cause and effect”.

Starting at 5 years old

Improvement – 9 years old.

Building foundations

Like many other kids, I spent a lot of years building my foundations in sports, either physical or mental.

When I coach kids or adults, I see that they have many similarities, most of the time just more or less evolved or developed depending on their age. Adults are nothing more than kids with more years of experience. But their issues can remain the same for many years if not properly trained.

10 years old

14 years old

10 years old

12 years old

16 years old

First international successes

I entered the National Team (Switzerland) at age 17. Later that year, I fell during a competition and broke a vertebra. This meant being away from the bike for 6 months. This also meant that, for my last Junior year, I had to plan to get back at the top in only 6 months after recovery.

One year later, I had my two first international podiums: a 2nd place at the European Championships (individual) and a 3rd place at the World Championships (by team). This year also included a 6th place at the World Championships (individual) and a 2nd place at the Swiss Championships.

Vice-European Champion.

Sharpening my mental edge & my 1st mental plan

At the time, a good friend of mine was my strongest competitor. We was World Champion, so he was a very strong guy. I was always behind him in national and international competitions and I couldn’t figure out why. We had the same trainings, the same amount of hours and we trained a lot together, so our training level was pretty much the same. With time, it started to bother me and I started to make plans to finally beat him. That would be my personal victory, that would be a big goal to achieve.

Facing those problems, I came up with the conclusion that I could work extra on a specific training: the mental side of the sport. This was really new to me. Being in a sport with absolutely no money involved (and not having enough money myself), having a mental coach wasn’t an option for me. So I had to give it a go by myself and try it the hard way, by experience.

I questioned athletes about how they were dealing with competitions. I read books about sports psychology and related subjects, all by myself. But in reality, it didn’t work.. Knowing these mental tactics and techniques didn’t produce any results.

However, I noticed that actually applying the lessons learned into real-life trainings worked and produce amazing results. It was the process of taking action that made the difference.

That same year, I worked on my first mental training plan (now, I call it my 1.0 version). This training diary consisted in all the tools and tactics I’ve tested and which produced good results. I would remove the things that were not efficient and integrate those who were producing good results, training after training.

I would have my training diary always with me during my trainings.

From N°2 to N°1

These actions triggered great results. I became the Elite National Champion, I got a 3rd place at the World Championship (by team) and, to my surprise, I was awarded “Athlete of the Year” by a swiss organization the same year.

I have a vivid memory of moments during the Swiss Championships. I was so mentally prepared that during the whole competition I entered “the Zone”, ultimately making the difference and winning at the very end of it, in total immersion.

Entering “The Zone”

My Elite Swiss Champion title.

“Athlete Of The Year” Award Ceremony.

Entering the World’s Elite Top-10

Then followed three beautiful years of competitions, entering the World’s Top-10, ultimately being n°8 in the World Ranking and performing on a regular basis at that level in World/European Championships and Cups.

The world ranking evolution

World Cup competitions

Turning pro

During the year 2014, I turned pro. For people around me, that meant more something close to surviving. But for me, it meant to go “all in” for a dream, a life goal.

I hired a physical coach to raise my level and a manager to find contracts (mostly sports shows). My coach was the only one I knew being capable of adding the “mental side” of the sport to my practise, and actually take action on it. And so, together we combined my training approach and his, which brought us to work with the version 2.0 of my training plan.

And it gave amazing results. I won the first two national cups and finished second on the third one (by making a rookie mistake, otherwise that would be a win again). I beat the man who, four months later, became Elite Vice-World Champion. I was shocked, and so were my competitors. I was literally sailing through it, reaching the best level I ever had while having a lot of fun in the process.

Real-time visualisation training with my coach at the time.

Winning and “flying through it”.

Training plan 2.0 was born

Injuries & adjusting goals

Sadly, during the European Championships during Summer, I fell hard and dislocated my right shoulder and broke a bone inside (glenoid). That was a hard time, and I needed surgery, which was planned to happen by October.

Meanwhile, and despite all the fears and doubts coming in, I started to train slowly to get back on track. This was my second “come back” from an serious injury and I knew that my confidence had to be trained on a regular basis if I wanted to have a chance.

Instead of reaching my goal to win more cups during the year, I decided to change my goals: compete in the World Championship in a few months, despite that broken shoulder. That’s all that mattered to me. And that’s what I did. I bought a special shoulder splint, got more confident, qualified during a World Cup, competed in the World Championship and finished at an honorable 16th place. That year, despite the situation, I’ve reached several goals I was thrilled about.

Waking up after the surgery, after the World Championships.

The long process to “get back in the game”.

I reached a honorable 16th position despite my broken shoulder. You can see the grey shoulder socket I used to keep it in place.

Giving back to others

By 2015, I started coaching other group of trials riders and I took part in training camps as a coach. To me, that was a normal process to give back the knowledge I’ve learned during so many years of hard work. Especially when I realised that a lot of coaches just don’t have a clue of what’s going on into a sportsman/sportswoman mind. It is very common that they are unable to formulate good advice and perspective into words and action plans. So, I thought that I could be useful to athletes with my experience.

I was happy to see very good results from my students during competitions and big events. Already during my the first year as a coach, about 85-90% of my students made podiums.

And the same would be true for them to this day. It’s been now 3 years I am in the coaching industry.

Working as a coach during training camps and individual/group training sessions for three years now.

Training too hard, common misconceptions & learning the (very) hard way

At the end of 2016, I changed my coach. I was decided to commit to it fully. To me, at the time it meant that I was ready to suffer. This coach’s approach was the “hardcore” type, in favour of physical transformation and extreme resilience. At that time, it sounded like something I needed. He gave me a dreadful training and nutrition program and it took me some time to adapt to it. But I did the work, very often forcing myself through it, thinking it would produce amazing results. To add discomfort to the matter, I would sleep in my van during the night and train with him during the day.

But when the sports season begun, I was completely exhausted, overtrained and burned out.

Training hard and pushing the envelope.

I would sleep in my van during the nights after several exhausting trainings.

I was so down that it drove me crazy, especially because my training was made by a so-called “professional” coach.

I would lock myself in my flat for one week, not talking to anyone, reading books after books to find answers to my unresolved training issues. I needed to find an alternative to this bad guidance and bad coaching I’ve been through. And eventually come up with my own training plan for good.

Coming from that experience, I learned a very valuable lesson:

There is a set of poles in performance. And the one I experienced the hard way was this one:

Pleasure & Suffering

During these last few months, I was deep into suffering mode all the time, day and night. And the truth is that you need to find a good balance between those two poles, otherwise everything falls apart. And that’s exactly what I did.

Like the years before, I refined my training plan and made the 3.0 version, including all the lessons learned the hard way during all these years.

And it all came in pretty handy for the National Championships.

Version 3.0 of the mental training plan

Back from hell

Before and during the situation described above – and despite all the hard work beforehand – I was performing at a very low standard comparing to my usual. I would finish between 9-12th position in national competitions.

Then I came with my own designed plan to prepare the National Championships a few weeks later. This included a lot of rest (obviously), but also some tools I would use to rely more on my personality traits, preferences and intuition. I would simply apply what I’ve discovered was best for myself, step by step, one day after the other. Instead off adding things up, I would throw stuff away. False beliefs, ideologies, and various misconceptions: gone.

Victories are not always first positions

Even though that preparation sounds like a long time, that was just a matter of a few weeks. Whatever the position I’ll finished, my main goal was perform with my personality, with authenticity. During the competition week-end, I had two days of competitions: on Saturday it was the important competition and Sunday it was a side competition. Because I was so still tired (and this situation happened to last for more than 2 months), I would focus just on one day.

My competitors were tough ones: a guy who was 3rd in the World Ranking, another one on an average Top-15 and the rest on a top national level. That day, I did plan my actions carefully, visualizing every bit of the competition and performing the way I wanted even before the competition started, and then letting go into the action itself. I would consciously focus on dedicating all my energy available in one precise time span of a little more than an hour. And it worked perfectly.

To everybody’s surprise, I finished second, just behind one of the best rider in the world. Funny thing, I competed the day after and finished 12th. Of all the victories, podiums and trophies, I remember those moments as one of the best I’ve had. From that time on, I believe that victories are not always first positions.

Finishing 2nd – just behind the 3rd best rider in the world – coming back from hell.

What began as a struggle for me, became a solution for others

When I started coaching, nothing made me happier than seeing other people change themselves and improve for the better. Like in the story above, you can see that people are built one piece at a time, experience after experience, step by step. I believe that you can become whoever you want to be.

After 22 years of competition now (soon 23), I still continue to ride at a world class level, because I strongly believe that I can better understand athletes if I am an athlete myself, facing the same problems, the same fears, difficulties and eventually, share the same successes as the ones I work with.

You can see that I’ve been through a lot of personal successes throughout my career, but more importantly, through a massive amount of pain and suffering. All this led me to understand how things were working on the mental side of the game.

What began as a struggle for me, became a solution for others.