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  1. #1
    Robertson
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    New NICA Coach Looking for Advice

    Good Morning All,

    I recently signed up to be one of the coaches for my old high school's NICA team, and was wondering if any of you (racers or coaches) have tips/advice on what I can do to be a good coach and better connect with the athletes. I'm by no means an expert rider but am experienced and competent, and was encouraged to become a coach by the head coach as I am younger (23 yo) than the rest of the coaches and he thought this would help me connect with the kids better. So anyone have any advice? Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    It's about showing up.
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    How big is the team. How many boys and how many girls? Where are you?
    I don't rattle.

  3. #3
    Robertson
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    Team is about 20 kids (all boys as far as I know), in Alabama. League is new this year as well

  4. #4
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    NICA has some excellent coaching webinars that do a great job reminding us coaches about the physical and mental development of our riders.

    What are your goals as a coach for this team? What's the mix like between competitive racer and beginner?

    I highly recommend the webinars here:
    Webinar Series ? NICA

    The teaching book might be useful too:
    http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Mount...dp/0974566039#

  5. #5
    Robertson
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    Those webinars are perfect, thanks! Most of the riders are pretty beginner, so my goal is to:
    1) teach them solid fundamentals: correct braking, cornering, attack position, etc.
    2) instill a love of mountain biking in them, so those that graduate stick with it, and those that are younger come back next year
    3) help them have fun!

    I'm planning on letting the older coaches who have more experience with racing teach them the more technical aspects, like starts, etc. I will most likely spend the majority of my time with the more beginner riders, focusing on fundamentals.

  6. #6
    Occasionally engaged…
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    Perhaps this piece of advice was covered by the webinars, but the biggest error I've seen committed by volunteer/assistant coaches is not being regular or showing when they indicated they would. This has been true of both the NICA and soccer teams my kids have been part of. Kids sense disinterest or flakiness pretty quickly and you can see their eyes roll when the assistant coach who said he was going to be at practice twice a week ends up showing up once every couple of weeks. That's not a good way to earn respect or establish a positive relationship with a teenager -- no matter the value of the guys input when he's there, they're not going to listen. Sure, conflicts come up and they'll be excused if the team knows you're reliable and have established your good intentions from the beginning.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  7. #7
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    PeT makes a good point. A flakey assistant coach or ride leader can sour the relationship with the students/riders.

    Especially with the beginners. They need your full support.
    Coaching: http://wgcmtb.org
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  8. #8
    It's about showing up.
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    It is all about showing up. The critics and know-it-all don't last. Be true to the kids. If you take good care of them you will own the parents. There is more to this than winning.
    I don't rattle.

  9. #9
    Primative Screwhead
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    It is all about showing up. The critics and know-it-all don't last. Be true to the kids. If you take good care of them you will own the parents. There is more to this than winning.
    ^^This.

    Some other tips:

    1. Skills, skills, skills. Skill acquisition needs to be the focus of their junior years. Pedalling circles, bunch skills, braking, cornering, holding a wheel, laying off the wheel, bumping, sliding, emergency braking, eating and dressing whilst riding, etc. Their adolescent physical development will be all over the place, whereas skill acquisition is something you can plan, take control of and measure success in.

    2. If you're writing programs, tell them they'll get the next one only after giving you feedback on what they've accomplished (otherwise, what is the point of having a coach?) Also, you may write the most beautifully ornate and effective training programs the world has ever seen, but unless the athlete is engaged with it, it will be meaningless.

    3. Plan your sessions so that the athletes know what the goal of the activity is before they show up, how your session fits in with the weekly plan and why it's done in that part of the season.

    4. When they show up to training or racing, they should know how to warm up correctly without your input. You are basically teaching them to be independent - you wont be coaching them forever.

    5. Skills session need to conclude before they get tired. Keep a close eye on fatigue unless you enjoy strapping broken wrists (I've learnt this the hard way). If they say "But just one more pump track run..." say no. Someone has to be the adult, and that person is you.

    6. You can't want something more than they do. It has to come from them

    7. Praise the effort and application, not the result. By all means describe the result, but reward their engagement and attitude.

    Background: I'm a school teacher but also coached an elite junior development squad for my federation (Aus) for five years. It impacted my family too much so I had to give it away. Graduates range from 'gone nowhere' to 'Team BMC' via an U/23 World title. You'll get all sorts and you need to give them all the best chance that you can. I still take my school group for rides - I could care less if any of them ever enter a race (although some usually end up racing anyway.) We do 20km xc loops on the beautiful singletrack in the surrounding ranges - that counts as a win in my eyes and theirs.
    Ego maniacs please object to my posts.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpearce1475 View Post
    Those webinars are perfect, thanks! Most of the riders are pretty beginner, so my goal is to:
    1) teach them solid fundamentals: correct braking, cornering, attack position, etc.
    2) instill a love of mountain biking in them, so those that graduate stick with it, and those that are younger come back next year
    3) help them have fun!
    This is a good plan.
    1) Nobody has fun until they have the skills to feel safe.
    2+3) Probably not 1 kid in 20 has the grit to do the kind of suffering that's required to be competitive without the love. Key to this I think getting the kids to build bonds between one and another. Having fun with your crew on and off the trail really dilutes the hurt part of the deal.

    To that I'd add:
    1) Make some good connections with your local shops. NICA racers can burn a lot of gear and its nice to have a cheap source of parts, and its nice to have a shop that will fast track a repair when there's a race tomorrow. Also, these shops will be able to hook you up with the fast and skilled riders you need to support a bunch of competitive HS racers.

    2) Try to collect a couple of loaner bikes. You'll need them for people trying out, and as spare mounts for bikes that go down last minute.

    3) Dont burn yourself out. Start spreading the load to parents and ride leaders as soon as you can.

  11. #11
    My other ride
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    Kind of old, but lessons learned?

    I'm thinking about starting a team at my local HS, if there is interest. It is a pretty small school and conveniently enough, an English teacher there races as a local pro.

  12. #12
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    I see from your profile you're down in Norco.

    I would bet money there's a Composite Team in your area. You would make your life a WHOLE bunch easier if you teamed with a Composite team for the first year to help you you on your feet. I would Contact the socal league director, Matt Gunnell (sp?), and discuss it with him. He would steer you right.

  13. #13
    My other ride
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphic View Post
    I see from your profile you're down in Norco.

    I would bet money there's a Composite Team in your area. You would make your life a WHOLE bunch easier if you teamed with a Composite team for the first year to help you you on your feet. I would Contact the socal league director, Matt Gunnell (sp?), and discuss it with him. He would steer you right.
    You are correct, CCTMB is close by in Corona and where last years U23 24 Hour World Champion comes out of. I definitely have access to good local info, just trying to keep an open mind about info and looking far ahead as I'm not prepared to commit right now.

    I don't know Matt, but I know the name and know people in his circle.

    Thanks for the info. I'll reach out to him soon.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I definitely have access to good local info, just trying to keep an open mind about info and looking far ahead as I'm not prepared to commit right now.

    I don't know Matt, but I know the name and know people in his circle.

    Thanks for the info. I'll reach out to him soon.
    Sounds like working with a Composite is the perfect thing for you, and people like you are the whole reason Composite teams were created in the rules.

    Ideally, the Corona Composite would work with you for a season to get you your volunteer hours, steer you towards the coaching and med classes, let you get some reps running rides and working the kids up through race day, and hopefully cut you in on some of the fundraising so you have a stake to start putting together a team "kit" (ezups, trainers, etc).

    Seems like when people try to just create a team from nothing they often end up doing a bad news bears kind of thing for a couple seasons while slowly coming up to speed. That's not necessarily bad, but its perhaps more painful and costly for the adults than necessary.

    Also, the rules now have a provision for "subdivisions" within the composite teams, so conceivably the kids from your perspective team could race as a team while still benefitting from the Composite team. I think if you have more than 5 riders you have to have that geographic subdivision.

  15. #15
    J-Flo
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    In addition to what is said above, my best advice to coaches is always to remember, when on a team ride, to avoid a mindset that this is your workout or your ride with friends. This is the kids' workout with their friends. We are there to teach, help, and lead. The result is a relationship with and respect from the kids, and your own workout just happens along the way.

    Coaches who think of and treat the kids as their friends end up with less respect, so have difficulty leading and teaching. Coaches who think of the ride as "their" workout usually don't accomplish much except being available to help when someone has a mechanical or other need.

  16. #16
    Super Clyde
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyZenNolan View Post

    The teaching book might be useful too:
    http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Mount...dp/0974566039#
    I just signed my son up to ride with the local composite, and I'm going to help out. I'm going to be a "Level 1 Coach," which I'm guessing means not a whole lot of input. I would like to be able to teach the students something should the occasion arise though. Who has read the book? Does it do a good job of explaining things? I've been riding for 20+ years, but I would still classify myself as an intermediate rider, with no formal instruction. Everything I've learned is self taught.
    I wouldn't **** you, you're my favorite turd.

  17. #17
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    Figure out when the next leaders summit is. They usually do an MTB 101 in conjunction with that. NICA has really revamped the skills coaching aspect of the coaching program in the last year. They've effectively adopted the IMBA program in a miniaturized form. They've also shifted the focus from teaching coaches to do the skills to teaching coaches to teach the skills, which is absolutely appropriate.

    If you can't find the NICA program look for the IMBA ICP Level 1 Guide Class....its a lot more money and a lot longer, but its a good time and you will definitely be a first class ride leader if you pass.

  18. #18
    Super Clyde
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphic View Post
    Figure out when the next leaders summit is. They usually do an MTB 101 in conjunction with that. NICA has really revamped the skills coaching aspect of the coaching program in the last year. They've effectively adopted the IMBA program in a miniaturized form. They've also shifted the focus from teaching coaches to do the skills to teaching coaches to teach the skills, which is absolutely appropriate.

    If you can't find the NICA program look for the IMBA ICP Level 1 Guide Class....its a lot more money and a lot longer, but its a good time and you will definitely be a first class ride leader if you pass.
    Thanks for the tip! The NICA Leadership Summit was this summer, so I missed it already. The closest IMBA guide class is in December, but it's full. I'll have to try to get one in 2018 when they release the schedule.
    I wouldn't **** you, you're my favorite turd.

  19. #19
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    My next tactic would be to contact reach out to the league director with an email. If there's half a dozen people around in the same boat, it might be worth having the Skills Instructor out for a day. But they can't know unless people ask.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by askibum02 View Post
    Thanks for the tip! The NICA Leadership Summit was this summer, so I missed it already. The closest IMBA guide class is in December, but it's full. I'll have to try to get one in 2018 when they release the schedule.
    I wouldn't necessarily limit yourself to the IMBA ICP program. PMBIA offers a pretty similar program, as well, that's at least as good as IMBA's. I found it to be more cost effective than IMBA's program for what you get.

    I priced it out for myself, and considering equivalent levels (PMBIA level 1 is similar to IMBA ICP level 2), it cost me about half as much to go PMBIA including transportation and lodging to the course location.

  21. #21
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    The nice thing about NICA teaming with IMBA is that you have the same skills coaching approach common between them. In fact NICA has reduced a lot of the basic skills coaching teaching points to a set of laminated cards to take on the trail. I wish IMBA had provided that. I think you'll see a lot of synergy with this program.

    But I agree, the IMBA stuff is not cheap.

  22. #22
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphic View Post
    The nice thing about NICA teaming with IMBA is that you have the same skills coaching approach common between them. In fact NICA has reduced a lot of the basic skills coaching teaching points to a set of laminated cards to take on the trail. I wish IMBA had provided that. I think you'll see a lot of synergy with this program.

    But I agree, the IMBA stuff is not cheap.
    I have been coached by and coached with coaches who have used both programs, and I don't really see them as all that different. The major difference I've seen is just slightly different ways of presenting the very same coaching methodologies. The language to describe what you're doing is pretty much the same. The approach to teaching is pretty much the same. Neither is "cheap" by any stretch. The difference in cost with PMBA vs. ICP is simply the fact that with PMBIA, I only needed to take one course to reach the same instructional level that ICP reaches in two courses. PMBIA combines coaching with guiding theory in its level 1 course, though they do offer a standalone guide only course. I also know a few who are dual certified ICP/PMBIA. The one advantage to starting with ICP is that if you want to dual certify, PMBIA offers an accelerated course for ICP level 2 folks to get dual certified at ICP/PMBIA. PMBIA also seems to do better with higher level coaches, splitting into jumping vs. tech trails tracks at its level 2.

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