The spring league races are happening and they look amazing! SoCal has the raddest 8-bit themed “Leader’s Jerseys” this year, Florida’s race crew shirts are covered in flamingos, and the North Carolina GRiT apparel is on fire again this year!
Photo Credit Delaney Johansson SoCal League
Photo Credit Mark Audette Florida League
Photo Credit Deborah Hage North Carolina League
If you are a fall league coach, the gauntlet has been thrown down! How can you bring the stoke to your team? As you welcome new and returning student-athletes to the 2022 season remember that the first core value of NICA is “FUN.” Many of your student-athletes will be new to the sport and if you want them to stay with the sport you need to make sure it’s fun, even when it’s hard.
Planning a new season can be overwhelming, make sure you save room for fun at every practice, everyday!
Thanks for doing what you do! Coaches Matter.
Have a great day and we hope you find something in this issue to keep your programs fun,
-Mike McGarry and the NICA Coach Licensing Team
In this Issue:
1. Game of the Month: Water Bottle Pick Up
2. The Dry-Erase Board!
3. Pre-Season Activities Team Planning
4. Last Chance for Online Leaders’ Summits until September
5. GRiT Corner
6. Adventure Spotlight
7. National Coach Survey Powered by Project Play
8. Feedback, Cannondale, Specialized, SRAM, & Rockshox
9. COEUS – Can Building a Team Training Plan Lead to a Better Season?
Where: Open space Objective: I can have fun. I can build timing, coordination, and pressure control skills. Setup: Designate a start point or line. Place a water bottle on the ground 101 Skills: Braking, Bike-Body Separation Rules: Riders attempt to pick up the water bottle without putting a footdown. If they put a foot down they must ride away and try again. Optional: Relay Race – Create teams
Reflection Question: What challenges did you face? Progression: Maybe start with tall cones, move to water bottles, then flat cones for extra challenge.
Create two teams: have many items on the ground and two buckets on each side. Teams try to pick up as many items as they can then put them into their bucket. Team with the most items wins.
We reached out to some head coaches across the country to get their favorite team management tips. A head coach in North Carolina, recently started bringing a dry-erase board to events and he had this to share.
As a head coach, race weekends and race day can be a daunting responsibility. There are so many athletes and coaches to organize. It can be difficult to communicate the schedule clearly and concisely on site.
I was often frustrated that athletes and coaches didn’t understand the schedule for the weekend like I did. It wasn’t their fault! I wasn’t communicating clearly enough.
That is when I got a dry-erase board to post the schedule for the weekend (I actually borrowed my daughter’s dry-erase board at first). It has made all the difference in the world!
What to include on your race weekend board: Pre-Ride Board
* When does pre-ride open and close for the venue
* When will your team meet to get ready to pre-ride (15-20 minutes before you set out on your pre-ride lap)
* Coach assignments for pre-ride groups
* When parents can expect athletes back from the pre-ride
* Optional: Additional pre-ride lap start times and coach assignments
* Optional: Team Dinner Time
For each race category:
* The names of all the athletes in the category
* When athlete should arrive to the team tent
* When each category will warm-up and what coach(es) are responsible for leading the warm up
* When each category will stage
* What coach(es) will be responsible for the feed zone (not applicable for 1-lap races)
* When awards will start
The dry-erase board is a simple tool that will make communication and organization of your team easier on race day. You might eventually find yourself with 2-3 boards at each race, I am speaking from experience!
The pre-season is a busy time for head coaches and team directors. There are a lot of tasks that need to be completed and it can be overwhelming for one person to be responsible for all of them. Make sure to delegate tasks to other coaches and key volunteers. Hold a pre-season coach meeting to establish tasks that need to be completed and divide up the tasks to make the work easier. Here is an example of a team task planning chart.
The best leaders know how to delegate tasks and set their coaches up for success. One coach cannot do everything on their own. Coaching should be fun, not another part-time job! Create systems and structures that allow your team to thrive and grow without adding stress to you.
NICA National Online Leaders’ Summit – Last Chance until September!
The NICA Coach Licensing Team will be hosting an Online Leaders’ Summit the Week of May 16th – 20th at 9pm EST/6pm PST via Zoom. This will be the last session until September for 2022.
The Leaders’ Summit is a one-time requirement for Level 3 coaches. Coaches can also attend the Leaders’ Summit sessions for CEUs. Each session is worth 1 CEU to maintain your level 2 or 3 license.
Find out more about the schedule and how to register here.
Photo Credit: Mark Kern Wisconsin Interscholastic Cycling League
Our theme of the month is FUN! Keeping our team experiences fun, in addition to productive, is particularly important for girls.
Coaching is one of the biggest predictors of whether or not girls stay in sports. And, it turns out that a balanced coaching approach, focused on both fun AND skills/competition, is the approach that is most predictive of girls’ long term participation in sports.
We need to find this balance, because nationwide girls still drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by age 14!!
Research shows that girls in sports want to acquire new skills and want to compete. But, even more importantly, girls in sports want to make and spend time with friends, and want to feel part of a team. Social relationships are critical to girls enjoying sports, sticking with it and, ultimately, feeling ready to challenge themselves in competition.
So take the time to use team building games (see Adventure Spotlight below) to build relationships within your team. Sprinkle them into practices throughout the season. Schedule ice cream rides and other fun practices to foster fun and relationships. Take a break from “descent repeats” (which are much more fun than hill repeats, lol) to have fun sessioning something.
Keep it fun, build strong relationships, and the rest of it–skills, competence, confidence, and performance–will fall into place.
Photo Credit – Emily Green, GRiT Program Manager
We’re focusing on the NICA Core Value of FUN this month!
Fun is the invitation toward involvement. Fun is contagious. People want to be a part of fun.
Fun is central to the NICA experience. Whether you are a new or experienced team, fun is a necessary component in order for your team to succeed and thrive.
Coach John Wooden, considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, routinely set aside that last five minutes of practice for fun. One of his former players, Swen Nater, recalls one practice when Coach Wooden let the players hold a dunk contest. Quality coaches understand and nurture the basic need for fun, regardless of their athletes’ age and competitive level. Remember that having fun is the number one reason student-athletes report they participate in our sport. Deliberate practice must be counterbalanced with fun to sustain student-athletes’ motivation and passion for mountain biking.
Intentionally include fun in every practice. Here are some practice ideas with resource links.
National Coach Survey – What Motivates You to Be a Coach?
The National Coach Survey is an effort led by Project Play in partnership with LiFESports at OSU with support from Nike and the Susan Crown Exchange. Targeting ALL youth sport coaches who work with young people in any sport setting including organized sport and free play. The survey questions focus on:
* Coaches’ background and training
* The reason they began coaching and what keeps them coaching
* Their confidence level based upon their training
* The additional supports they need to be an effective coach
* Their perceptions of the current youth sports system in their community
This short online survey should be taken by anyone who is or has been a youth sports coach and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. For respondents willing to provide an email address, one person from every 500 will win a $50 electronic gift card.
Training plans are like flossing, we all know we should do it, but who really has the time? Within a team, there are differences in skill and fitness levels, athlete needs and goals, and psychological maturity to throw into the mix of planning considerations. Unfortunately, even the best-written plan, created with blood, sweat, and countless cups of coffee doesn’t guarantee the coaches will follow it correctly. Does this mean it isn’t worth the effort? Quite the opposite! A team training plan is a vital part of a smooth and productive season and creates happy coaches, ride leaders, and athletes all season long! Take a relaxing breath because creating and executing an effective plan for almost any team is easier than you think with a manageable amount of time and preparation.
As we move through this 3-part series written by COEUS coach development manager and exercise physiologist Tim Curry, we’ll break down how to build a season training plan from start to finish. Learn all about preparing for your plan creation process in the first part of our series, Building a Team Training Plan – The Starting Line. In Building a Team Training Plan – The Cycles, we’ll overview creating the various cycles of your training plan. Keep an eye out for the third part in our series where we cover strategies for successful team training plan implementation.