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Engage your entire coaching team

…and get inspired and ready for your season!

Photo by Mike Anderson – First Light Photo: Delaware Interscholastic Cycling League

As coaches, we dedicate a lot of our time to preseason events that are focused on student-athletes. Don’t forget that coaches are a key part of our team communities, and that more than 90 percent of an athlete’s time is spent with coaches in team-level practices and events.

It’s important to ensure your coaching team feels confident, connected, and prepared as a new season begins! Hosting coach-only practices and events can help create cohesion, build stoke for the adults within your community, and ensure that everyone feels empowered and ready to jump into team activities.

Coach practices

Host a coach practice for your new (and returning) coaches to get everyone on the same page. Invite all of your coaches to attend a “mock practice” that is modeled after a typical NICA practice for your team. Run through your procedures, drills, venue, expectations, and systems. A coach practice provides several awesome benefits for your team. First, it allows new coaches to learn the flow/methods we use in our practices – especially those early-season fundamental skills sessions. Second, your veteran level 2 and 3 coaches can get practice with teaching/facilitating skills learning. Third, it gives coaches time to reconnect or get to know one another before jumping into practices with student-athletes. 

Mock Coach Practice (Example)

Trail rides

Formal (or informal) trail rides for coaches are important to help ensure everyone is familiar with the trail systems where you will bring student-athletes. Organize a drop-in trail ride for coaches, and have copies of your team emergency action plans (EAPs) available for everyone. Discuss riding the trails in the NICA context (risk management considerations, evacuation spots, etc.) and allow space for questions from new or returning coaches. As a group, consider riding the trails to recalibrate your judgment on trail difficulty (we suggest riding with your arms locked out, butt on the saddle, and in a more difficult gear so you can see what it might feel like for your most novice riders). 

Coach community building

Of course, as you prepare for your season, don’t forget to make time to build community within your coaching group. After all, FUN is a NICA core value! Whether you host a coach meeting potluck at someone’s home, connect for a post-ride work, or keep a positive group-chat going, building that camaraderie can be instrumental in creating a connected group of adult leaders that set the tone for your team culture!

We coach because we love to coach, and coaching can still be hard. During the season, provide opportunities on and off the bike for coaches to connect with each other. Whether it gives them a chance to be a thought partner on an approach to managing their ride group, or a boost to their energy by sharing a fun ride with other adults, community building is beneficial throughout the season.

What strategies do you use for preparing your team and coaches for a new season? Let us know so we can share your great ideas with the NICA community!

Special thanks to SHIMANO, a NICA platinum level partner.

NICA Partners are enabling NICA to reinvent youth sports and engage families in a thriving cycling community, for life.

Our partners’ commitment to NICA’s mission has a huge impact on our student-athletes, their families and communities across the nation. NICA partners are changing the world by getting #MoreKidsOnBikes!