With athletes of varied ability, age, and skill levels creating great ride groups can be a challenge…
Photo by Deborah Hage, North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League
If we get the mix correct, everyone is having a good time, feeling safe, and progressing their fitness and skills. If we get the mix wrong, some athletes are scared, or bored, or/and not getting what they need. That equals no fun for anyone including the coaches. The right mix also depends on the objective of the ride or activity.
Here are some grouping options, along with some of the benefits and drawbacks of each method…
When you weigh the pros and cons of each approach, you can be more intentional about groupings on your own team, based on team culture and social needs.
Here are some additional strategies that you can consider as you create ride groups:
It can be really beneficial to have consistent ride groups so coaches and athletes can create relationships. Prepare to be flexible as well. Life happens and you might have to combine, split, or create totally new groups depending on how many coaches are available and the objectives of the practice.
Another important strategy to maintain high functioning ride groups is to debrief with lead coaches at the end of every practice to discuss ride groups. This will give you all an opportunity to make changes as needed and identify trends across ride groups.
NOTE: This article originally appeared in the July 2022 NICA Coaches News
NICA's Coach Education team exists to support a network of thousands of volunteer coaches across the country in their work to develop youth through the sport of mountain biking. NICA's coach education provides coaches with the skills, knowledge, and abilities to be confident and effective leaders and role models who build strong minds, bodies, character, and communities through cycling.