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COACHING WITH GAMES

Welcome to our 3-part Coaching with Games series! We’ll highlight skills, methods, and best practices for using games with your teams.

As NICA coaches, we know that fun is an essential part of learning and whole-athlete development. Here’s how you can become a pro at COACHING WITH GAMES!

PART 1: A foolproof system

How to use the NICA Method of Instruction for games

Games increase fun, joy, and skill development. Allowing our athletes to play supports connection to their teammates and the sport of mountain biking. Great teams play games!

Great coaches and teams integrate games, skills instruction, sessioning, and trail rides into their season. Most coaches feel comfortable with skills instruction and leading trail rides, but leading games—especially new games—can be intimidating. If you follow the NICA method for presenting games, and play the right game at the right time, you will find success! 

Method for presenting games 

TELL IT 

  • Name the game. It’s important to provide your student-athlete with the name of the game! This will allow for a quick reference if you want to repeat the game at a subsequent practice. 
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  • Present the rules as simply and concisely as possible. Speak clearly so that everyone can hear. Break down the steps to the game, and avoid confusion by adding too much detail. 

SHOW IT

  • A brief demonstration will clarify the rules, no matter how effective the explanation. 
  • Prompt for questions – Ask, “what questions do you have?” Before starting a game, be sure to check to see if any of your student-athletes need clarification. 

DO IT

  • Play the game! Even if the student-athletes are uncertain about some of the rules, they will probably learn quickly once the action starts. If you still notice confused looks and little to no activity, stop and explain or demonstrate again. For games without a clear ending or winner, set a timer to signify the end of the game or end of a round.
  • Adapt: If you notice that athlete energy or enthusiasm is declining, offer a modification or a progression. 

REVIEW IT

  • Reflect = Ask questions to draw learning from the game. For example: what did you learn from this experience, and how can you use it in the future?  

NICA on and off the bike games fall into a couple of different categories. Playing the right category of game at the right time in the season will produce the best results. Playing a game at the wrong time may lead to a negative experience for athletes and coaches. The coaches must adjust and adapt the games based on observations of their athletes. 

Stay tuned for next month’s feature on how to scaffold and sequence your games!

GET YOUR GAME ON!

In addition to our games resources in the NICA Education Center, we add new on- and off-the bike games to our collection at The Trailhead every month.

Click here to see them all, and check back often as the games library continues to grow.

SCREAM ‘TIL YOU DROP!

A NEW off-the-bike game for NICA coaches! Get loud and get silly with this off-the-bike game. Never underestimate our student-athletes’ […]

FOOT Down

This classic game with endless creative progressions can help athletes learn balance, coordination, ratcheting, and ultimately, track stands. How does […]

Freeze Tag

This familiar playground game gets a twist when you add bikes and balance!

This content was authored by NICA’s coach education team. NICA’s comprehensive coach education program provides new and existing coaches with the high-quality training and resources they need to be confident, competent, and empowered leaders on their youth mountain bike teams. NICA coaches not only create amazing experiences for student-athletes, they create a foundation for building healthy mountain bike communities. NICA coaches change lives! 

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Special thanks to CANYON, a NICA silver-level partner.

NICA partners help kids gain access to a thriving and engaged cycling community.

Special thanks to CANYON, a NICA silver-level partner.

NICA partners help kids gain access to a thriving and engaged cycling community.

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