Spring leagues are kicking their season off while fall leagues are settling in for some rest and relaxation. No matter where you are in your season there is always time to set goals and reflect on the past. For spring league Coaches, now is the time to communicate your team’s goals and help student-athletes set goals for the season. For fall league coaches, it’s time to reflect on the 2021 season. What went well? What could have gone better? What did you learn in 2021 that you will use in 2022? Reflection is so important and often overlooked. Give yourself time over the holiday season to reflect. Start with what went well, focus on the joy that mountain biking brought you and your team last year. How can you build on those successes?
Thanks for being a coach. You’ve made a difference in the lives of a lot of Student-Athletes and families this year.
-Mike McGarry and the NICA Coach Licensing Team
In This Issue: – Game of the Month – 2021 NICA Awards Nominations – Planning an Effective Practice – NICA Education: Coaches Resource and Benefits – Spotlight on Concussions with Kate Courtney – Holiday Gift Guide and Reading List – BIEA NICA Bicycle Technician Scholarship – Grit Corner – NICA Partner & Sponsor Spotlight – TrueSport: How to Align Team Goals and Set Individual Goals
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Where: Open Space Objective: I can have fun! 101 Skills: Braking, Bike-Body Separation 201 Skills: Track Stand Setup: Divide your team into pairs of relatively equal ability. Create a starting line with plenty of distance to go in front of the riders. Riders pair up on the starting line. Rules: When the coach says “green light” each pair of riders pedals as far as possible until the coach says “red light.” Riders must stop and either put a foot down or track stand until the next “green light” command. Winner is the rider that covered the most distance. Progression: Add obstacles to ride over or to avoid. Reflection Question: How did you support others when you found the activity difficult?
Let’s CELEBRATE our community! Nominations for the 2021 NICA Awards are now OPEN! The NICA Awards recognize student-athletes, coaches, volunteers, League Directors, and alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the youth cycling community over the past year. Submit your nominations HERE for the 2021 NICA Awards.
Details on the NICA Award Categories and past recipients is available HERE.
Nominations will be accepted through January 12, 2022.
Photo Courtesy of Humboldt Composite Mountain Bike Team
How important is it to create a plan for practices when coaching NICA Student-Athletes? Super Important! It is much easier to run a practice with a plan; rather than ‘flying by the seat of your pants’. It is important to have a practice plan ready before the practice day. Planning ahead allows you to focus on providing critical feedback to the student-athlete, reflection and progression during practice.
Here is an example practice planning template that helps to focus on safety, learning, reflection, recognition, team building and progression.
Pre-Practice: 1. Check in new Student-Athletes Welcome them and have them introduce themselves briefly 2. ABCDE Bike Check Air, Brakes, Chain, Drivetrain, Everything Else 3. Student-Athletes and coaches check-in Does anyone have anything they would like to share with the whole group? 4. State practice objectives for the day Practice: 1. Skills stations If you are doing skills switch every 15-20 minutes based on the number of stations and time that you have 2. Trail menu for trail rides Ride Leaders should know the trails their group will be riding that practice session. Either you should assign them or you should record the trails that each group will be riding on for the day. Post Practice: Regroup after practice 1. Objective review Ask athletes if they achieved the objectives of the day 2. Ask for shout outs from the coach and athletes Ask Coaches to recognize athletes that had a great practice Ask Athletes to recognize other athletes that had a great practices Ask Athletes to recognize coaches that had a great practice 3. Ritual closing of practice (Power Clap; Chant, Catch Phrase, etc) Have some ritual that signifies the end of practice Coach Debrief: 1. Get feedback from your coaches What went well that we want to make sure we do again? What could be changed to make practice sessions better? Adjust future session/practice plans based on feedback!
With the release of the new NICA Education website “Access Coach Courses” we are excited to bring to your attention the Coaches Resource section. When you access your NICA Coach Education you also have access to our Resource Center for coaches. Simply click on Coach Resources and you will find a comprehensive list of all NICA Coach resources to choose from by topic and to search for any resources that you might need as a NICA Coach for all coach license levels.
Additionally, within NICA Education you can also access all your Coach Benefits by sponsor/partner and submit your Coach Benefit requests directly within NICA Education. All the benefits that are available to you by license level will appear for you to search and utilize.
The goal for NICA Education is to allow Coaches to access everything they will need within one central location (Coach Courses, Resources, Benefits, etc.) without having to endlessly search for links and information on the NICA website. Check it out today!
Brush-up on your awareness of concussion safety with NICA Alumni Kate Courtney!
Due to the seriousness of concussions and known benefits of seeking early help if symptoms arise, we recommend students-athletes and coaches proactively familiarize themselves with concussions in case of a hard fall. Everyone can watch Kate Courtney’s CrashCourse | Brain Fly-Through HERE.
NICA’s Concussion Education Landing Page HERE includes NICA-specific concussion resources.
The Holidays are here and we are sure everyone is out getting their last minute gift shopping lists completed. We have compiled a list of gifts that might be perfect for a Coach, Student-Athlete or any mountain biker. Here are a few inexpensive gift ideas for the mountain biker in your life:
▪ Personalized Mountain Bike Headset Cap ▪ Mountain Bike Mud Guard ▪ Bike Cleaning Kit ▪ Multi-Tool Kit ▪ Mini Pump ▪ Chain Lube ▪ Digital Tire Pressure Gauge ▪ Tubeless Sealant ▪ MTB Handlebar Grips ▪ NICA Spirit Gear
Take this list down to your local bike shop and see what they have to offer or search via online retailers to come up with a great gift that any mountain biker would be pleased to receive this Holiday season.
For the NICA Coaches, we have also compiled a great list of coaching Podcasts and Books that are perfect for you to take your coaching of Student-Athletes to the next level. These also are great gifts that any coach would be pleased to receive. They are the gift that keeps on giving year round!
Coaching Podcasts: Way of Champions – John O’Sullivan Girls Moving Mountains! The Learner Lab
Coaching Books: Coaching Better Every Season – Wade Gilbert Vital Connections – Lou Bergholz Mind Gym, Athlete’s way to Inner Excellence – Gary Mack and David Casstevens Dream Makers – Jim Morris, Mark Stuertz Coaching with Heart – Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang Every Moment Matters – John O’Sullivan Atomic Habits – James Clear Finding Ultra – Rich Roll Three Dimensional Coaching – Blaine Bartlett Talk Like Ted – Carmine Gallo Four Levels of Training Evaluation – James D. Kirkpatrick Resilience, Why Things Bounce Back – Andrew Zolli Legacy – James Kerr
NICA is excited to partner with the Bicycle Industry Employers Association (BIEA) and announce the BIEA NICA Bicycle Technician Scholarship. This scholarship will recognize and support two graduating NICA student-athletes from the Class of 2022 who plan to pursue a professional career in the bicycle industry.
Through this scholarship, recipients will receive financial assistance and the opportunity to attend BIEA-accredited programs at either the Minneapolis Community Technical College or the Northwest Arkansas Community College. Both schools offer programs that will prepare students for immediate employment in technical positions in the bicycle industry.
Information on the qualifications and application materials for the BIEA NICA Bicycle Technician Scholarship are available HERE. Applications will be accepted until February 1, 2022.
As we near the end of the year, it’s a great opportunity to take a few moments to pause and reflect on what worked well, and where your pod, team, and/or league can still work to make progress in getting more girls on bikes in the coming year! With respect to GRiT, think about where your team is in a few key areas. What is the percentage of female coaches on your team? Female coaches play an important part in getting more girls on bikes, serving as role models and often creating a sense of psychological safety for girls, which is important for them to thrive in this sport.
If you have a decent number of female coaches, what roles do they play? Are some in leadership positions on your team? Or are most Level 1 coaches riding sweep on trail rides? If the latter, then it might be helpful to organize some female-only OTB clinics or other coach development opportunities targeted to the women on your team, to help them level up.
With respect to athletes, is the primary challenge getting more girls to give the team, and mountain biking, a try? Or are you recruiting them but perhaps not keeping them as long as you’d like? Those answers may help you decide whether to focus on recruitment, or whether to look at how your team culture and coaching strategies may or may not be impacting retention.
Implementing GRiT is not just about what your league GRiT Coordinators can do. It’s about what coaches on every team across the country can do to create spaces and opportunities for women and girls to join and thrive in NICA. Reach out to your GRiT Coordinator or to the GRiT Program Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) for help developing a plan for your team!
In the coming year, we’ll share some new resources that we are developing specifically for NICA coaches that will help you implement the GRiT initiative on your team. As always, thank you for everything you do to support all of your student athletes. We appreciate your additional efforts to give more women and girls access to the transformative experiences of mountain biking!
This holiday season, you and your family have the opportunity to give a bike and change a life. In partnership with World Bicycle Relief, Trek has set out to raise $1M to provide bicycles to people in developing countries. A donation to World Bicycle Relief in any amount helps empower someone in need. And through December 31, Trek will match the amount of your donation up to an overall of $500k! For more information click HERE
Just because winning an XC World Cup isn’t on your to-do list, doesn’t mean you don’t value performance and comfort. Recon 2.0 is your shoe. Inspired by S-Works Recon, with Body Geometry comfort and efficiency, Recon 2.0 puts all that performance within easy reach.
To create traction off the bike in wet or dry, gravel or dirt, we’ve covered the nylon outsole with our SlipNot compound. If the traction’s needed in the wet, you can also rest easy knowing the XPEL mesh used through the Recon 2.0 won’t get bogged down with water and will dry exceptionally quickly. No more wet shoes the morning after a wet ride. To purchase your Recon 2.0 Mountain Bike Shoes click HERE
Get an easy-to-pack, sturdy, recyclable BikeFlights Bike Box to ship your bike with confidence. Available in two sizes, BikeFlights Bike Boxes fit most bikes. The BBL is ideally suited for nearly assembled full suspension mountain bikes, e-bikes and other larger bikes. The BBM gets you the best shipping rates and is great for shipping gravel and road bikes, smaller mountain bikes and kids’ bikes. The innovative boxes were designed and tested to withstand harsh shipping conditions per Amazon’s ISTA 6A standard. They ship to you compactly and store easily under a bed or in a closet. During this holiday season, NICA Friends and Family save $20 off BikeFlights Bike Boxes. Visit our store, and enter promo code NICAHOLIDAY. One per customer. Expires 12/31/2021. To learn more click HERE
Setting team goals for the season or the entire year should be a group effort—not a coach-driven spreadsheet or list. Each athlete on your team will come into the season with different goals, motivations, and values, and as a coach, part of your job is to help the team blend the overarching team goals and values with those individual drivers.
The process begins with some thoughtful conversations, and should continue throughout the season. Here, TrueSport Expert and registered social worker, Nadia Kyba, MSW, shares advice for how to get team and individual goals as aligned as possible.
Understand the difference between goals and values Values include characteristics like hard work, courage, respect, and integrity, while goals are more specific and focused around actionable items, explains Kyba. While your team should have both process and outcome goals for the season, it’s arguably better to focus on values that the team holds together. Your team should be value-driven rather than goal-driven. This allows for each individual to also have a set of individual, specific goals for the season while still feeling in alignment with the team’s values.
Start the season with a team meeting about goals and values Kyba recommends setting goals and values early on. In the beginning of the season, hold a team meeting where you discuss all of the objectives for the season. Who do your players want to be? What characteristics will help the team be strong and successful as a unit? What goals should the team focus on? Come up with a list, starting with the bigger picture values like hard work before getting granular on outcome goals like winning a regional championship title and process goals like showing up to practice on time and ready to work every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Make sure all the athletes on the team actively participate in this exercise: Athletes are much more likely to buy in and take ownership of goals and values that they create, rather than ones you’ve preselected for them. Allow some time for athletes to also reflect and write out their individual goals for the season, encouraging them to think in terms of process and outcome goals.
Share individual goals As you create a list of goals and values for the whole team, it’s important to allow athletes to share their individual goals as well. Letting athletes bring these goals to the attention of the team not only creates accountability around the goals, but it allows teammates and you as the coach to better understand each athlete’s individual hopes for the season. As a coach, take note of these individual goals and how they might help or hinder overall team objectives. For instance, an athlete whose goal is to score a certain number of points in a season may need occasional reminders that a core value of the team is teamwork, and he needs to be passing the ball more often. But on the other hand, if one athlete’s goal is to work on her leadership skills and public speaking, you can encourage her to lead warmup drills and pep talks before games, and to emphasize the team value of leadership. You can even take the conversation further by asking athletes how they can connect their individual goals back to the team’s values and goals to inspire actionable ideas.
Create a list of team values and hang it somewhere it’s easy to see This can be a team project or it can be relegated to the more artistic members of the team, but create a poster or other wall hanging that lists out the team’s values and goals for the season. Snap a photo or email it to all the athletes (and parents of the athletes if appropriate). This way, the initial goal-setting conversation isn’t forgotten as athletes get busy with the season and with schoolwork.
Understand and acknowledge that not all goals will align perfectly While some teams may be more suited to meshing individual goals with team-oriented goals, that won’t always be the case, and as a coach, it’s your job to find the right balance between helping athletes achieve individual success while still helping the team thrive. Most team sports are fairly straightforward, though things like playing time and positions may be challenging as some individuals set goals of more time on the field and less time on the bench. Individual sports like wrestling may prove more challenging, especially for older athletes with goals that prioritize individual performances rather than team unity. And any athlete who’s involved in multiple sports, on multiple teams, or participating in other after-school electives may have a very different set of individual goals compared to the team goal of showing up to every practice. Remember, athletes are rarely actively trying to work against the team goals, but there may be an individual mismatch, and viewing that with empathy rather than aggravation is critical as a coach.
Get to know athlete’s motivations It’s one thing to understand that each athlete has individual goals. But it’s arguably just as important to understand the motivation for each goal. The better you can understand the individual goals of your athletes, as well as the ‘why’ behind them, the better you can align those goals with the team’s overarching goals. For example, an athlete whose motivation is rooted in needing to get a scholarship in order to attend college might serve as a reminder to you that not every athlete on the team can afford expensive team gear or can commit to extra weekend practices.
Celebrate victories Each week, take a moment after practice to acknowledge some small (or big) wins. Did someone on the team truly exemplify the team value of hard work? Did the team as a whole hit the process goal of showing up on time every day? Taking the time to acknowledge when goals and values are being met makes it easier for athletes to remember what they’re working towards, so take the time to make their efforts feel seen.
Takeaway Every time your players come to a practice or competition, there are both individual goals and values, as well as team goals and values, at play. These tips will help coaches align goals and values, while still honoring each individual.
TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, while also creating leaders across communities through sport.