Hello you amazing coaches, Spring leagues are in full swing and Alabama will hold their Prologue this coming weekend. The coach licensing team has been connecting with coaches across the country and we are continually inspired by you all. The collective knowledge and passion of NICA coaches is awe inspiring.
This month we are really excited to announce two national scholarship programs for NICA student-athletes. We have the opportunity to really change the mountain bike community with your passion for getting more kids on bikes and the support of our scholarship partners.
Thanks for being a coach, Mike McGarry and the Coach Licensing Team
In This Issues -Coach Licensing Matrix Updates for Fall Leagues -What’s Your Favorite Game to Play at Practice? -Scholarships! -Trek Pathfinders Scholarship -Sparkle On Scholarship -DEI Survey for NICA Coaches -GRiT Corner -Club Ride Coach Discount -Continental Cross King -Giro – Not Just Helmets! -Partner Content – Building Resilience in Young Athletes
Coach Licensing – Updated Courses and FAQs
Over the past year, the NICA Coach Licensing Team undertook a project to significantly enhance the substance and quality of the educational content contained in the Coach Licensing program. As of March 1st, 2021 when Pitzone opens for Fall Leagues, there will be new interactive e-learning courses for each license level.
This does not apply to Spring 2021 Leagues until September 2021.
The way that you access the course will not change and we are not adding any new requirements. The content is more relevant to your work as coaches at all levels. The content is more engaging than watching a video. The learning is stickier so you will only need to take the Coach Licensing Level associated with your license every 2 years instead of annually.
Change can be intimidating and a little unnerving. We want to make this change as seamless as possible. Please review this FAQ about the update. Let us know if you have any remaining questions.
Screen shoot from new NICA Coach Licensing Courses
What’s Your Favorite Game to Play at Practice?
Games at practice are a lot of fun. Both on-the-bike and off-the-bike games enhance the practice experience for student-athletes and coaches. On-the-bike games help student-athletes gain skills and they help coaches assess skills. Off-the-bike games help teams build relationships and trust. We are collecting games that NICA teams play at practice so we can share them with all of you.
Where: Open Space Objective: I can build a positive team culture. I can have fun. Setup: Designate a square area a couple bike length long and wide. Scatter many cones throughout the area. Ask participants to ride through without touching a cone with either tire. 101 Skills: Bike-Body Separation, Braking, Neutral/Ready Position Rules: Don’t touch a cone. Hopping is allowed but one wheel must remain on the ground at all times. Options: If the area is wide enough, have two riders challenge each other to get across first without touching a cone. Reflection Question: What was your plan for the activity? How did you come up with it?
Mindfield in Indiana
New NICA Scholarships!
Trek/NICA Pathfinders Scholarship
Trek has partnered with NICA to grow diversity in the sport of cycling and provide better access for diverse and underrepresented youth.
The Trek/NICA Pathfinders Scholarship will provide selected student-athletes with a Trek Marlin mountain bike, helmet, shoes, accessories, and a kit, as well as a stipend for NICA League and entry fees and a full season of racing and events.
Applicants in Fall Leagues can apply for scholarships for up to 10 student-athletes. Applications are due April 15, 2021. A second round of applications for teams in Spring Leagues will open in August. Learn more and apply today HERE.
The Sparkle On Scholarship Presented by Kate Courtney
The Sparkle On Scholarship presented by Kate Courtney in partnership with Scott, Syncros, SRAM, and RockShox will recognize student-athletes who have demonstrated academic and athletic excellence during their time with NICA and plan to attend college and continue mountain bike racing.
It will be awarded to four seniors from NICA leagues and consist of a monetary award of $10,000 each, mentorship in the form of quarterly calls with Kate during their first year of college and career mentoring through SRAM. Those recipients without a bike sponsor and committing to race on Scott for the year will also receive a Scott mountain bike. The Sparkle On Scholarship is open to NICA student-athletes graduating high school who will attend college for the 2021-22 academic year and who are seeking to balance mountain bike racing with college studies. Applications will be available March 1st. More information and FAQs can be found here. Also, check out Kate’s video announcement.
Kate Courtney Photo: Ross Bell
DEI Survey – Coach Feedback is Really Important
NICA aims to have an environment where its members feel valued and included. An avenue to achieving our goal of an inclusive culture is to create a safe space for open, honest communication and feedback. WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please participate in our NICA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey!
The information will be used to provide insight into areas we should focus on to make our community feel safe and enjoyable for all. Through the survey, we ask you to share your thoughts, feelings, and feedback so that future change can happen with your input. Thank you!
Pre-order “If You Give a Girl A Bike” Today!
New Bike for Younger Rider By Hayley Diep
Check out this rad new book from author Hayley Diep about all the fun things that happen when you’re open for adventure! When you pre-order and select NICA – 10% of the proceeds will go to help get #morekidsonbikes and #moregirlsonbikes! Pre-order from Hayley’s site here.
We asked Hayley why she decided to write this book and this was her response:
“I wrote this book hoping that more parents, specifically parents of underrepresented children, will introduce their daughters to these sports at a younger age. I sure wish I had been! You can read about the story behind the book here.”
Club Ride Coach Discount
“Club Ride Apparel is proud to be a supporter of NICA and wants to extend a 40% discount to you for all of your hard work! Click here to apply https://www.clubrideapparel.com/pages/pro-application and enter “NICA 40”. Once you are approved you will receive 3 Friends and Family codes too!”
Continental Cross King – Our Lightweight Trail Tire for all XC racers
Cut to the chase with the lightest, fastest trail tire combination from Continental. The Cross King tread pattern rolls race fast in the center but starts biting as soon as you bank into a turn.
The 2.2 carcass keeps weight to a minimum for maximum acceleration, slots into skinny clearance frames and cuts through the dirtiest conditions for impressive bite however wet the trail gets. There’s still enough volume to carry speed through rubble and stutter bumps though and the ProTection carcass will shrug off the sharpest rocks for dependable day after day speed.
Learn about the Continental Cross King Tire at Continental Bicycle Cross King ProTection (continental-tires.com)
Giro – Not Just Helmets!
Everyone knows that Giro is a global leader in helmets and footwear… but did you know that they make some outstanding riding apparel too? One of our favorites is this Stow H20 jacket. It’s a durable barrier against the elements and easily packs down. Best of all, it has a handy system to “stow” on your handlebars for rides when you don’t want to wear a pack.”
5 Activities to Build Resilience in Youth Athletes
Each month we will present content and resources highlighting topics coaches may deal with throughout the season when working with student-athletes.
This month, TrueSport provides us with some information on how to help student-athletes build resilience.
One of the many outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic was that young athletes had to become resilient. No matter how much we may want to shield children from the harsh realities of cancelled seasons, lockdowns, and quarantines, every child experienced some kind of loss or hardship during the pandemic. But board-certified family physician and TrueSport Expert Deborah Gilboa, MD, explains that we can use these difficult moments as a learning opportunity to help our athletes become better prepared for inevitable challenges later in life.
This is a set of skills, Gilboa explains, as resilience is not simply a character trait. It can be nurtured and developed. Here, she discusses the five ways she wants coaches to approach building resilience on their team.
1. Building connections Strong connections strengthen resilience because they diminish a person’s feelings of isolation. Fostering connections can be as simple as starting every practice with a question, whether that be a sport-specific one about the day’s practice goals or a sillier one like the last snack each person made for themselves. “Ask team leaders for ideas about icebreakers and ways to build better connections on the team,” Gilboa suggests.
“You can also have athletes divide into practice teams using things like sock color or their preferred house at Hogwarts! This way, they start to see what they have in common with each other. Then, turn it into an exercise that will improve the team dynamic: Have each person on the team ask a question to the group about something related to the sport, like how to improve a flip turn in swimming.” Asking for advice helps build strong connections between teammates and shows that even the star player on the team has things they want to improve upon.
2. Managing discomfort “Nobody grows when they’re comfortable,” Gilboa explains. “Managing discomfort is crucial to becoming more resilient, because if you cannot handle being uncomfortable, you can’t go through the steps required to experience a change and get to your goal. You get stuck.”
As a coach, you can grow in this arena by taking a step back and allowing students to deal with discomfort. You can still show empathy—no one likes running laps because they’re late—but don’t let athletes skip the hard things. Gilboa adds that you can turn this into a team discussion: ask athletes how they can help teammates manage their discomfort? How can they help teammates when they’re sitting on the sidelines or can’t compete? How can they help when a teammate feels embarrassed about their performance?
When a situation is tough for the team, Gilboa says that part of managing discomfort is allowing people to express their feelings. “For example, if your team needs to run laps for some reason, I would tell them that they have 60 seconds to complain about it as loudly as they want, and then they need to get over it. And after that 60 seconds, they all need to find one positive about the situation—even if that positive is just that they’re suffering together.”
3. Setting goals To build resilience, Gilboa recommends having every member of the team first identify their ‘why’ behind playing. “We want to intentionally focus on the fact that every activity we undertake has a purpose,” she explains. Goals can also be small, daily objectives: Each practice, start by laying out the goals for the day and how those practice goals will eventually help lead to achieving bigger goals down the road. This helps athletes continue to come back to their ‘why’ and can help them push through tough practices because they have a good reason to do so.
4. Identifying options “Unfortunately, we all tend to go with the first solution to a problem that we think of,” Gilboa says. “In general, we don’t list a bunch of options before we decide what we’re going to do. Being resilient means pausing and thinking about all your options and potential outcomes. That way, if one option fails, you know you have alternatives to try next—that makes it easier to persevere or show resilience.”
As a coach, whenever possible, let your team work together to identify different options, whether that’s making a plan for game day or picking what drills to do during a practice. And after a game, identify potential options you could take towards making improvements.
5. Taking action While thinking through options is critical, action is a key final step in practicing resilience. “A lot of young athletes get stuck in option overload or decision paralysis,” Gilboa says. “And you can’t be resilient if you can’t move. So, you have to pick something and try it. It may not work, but then you can move on to the next option.”
Coaches can facilitate action by putting athletes in decision-making positions. Make sure every athlete on the team is tasked with choosing and leading actions, such as choosing stretches for warmup, picking drills, or leading the team through cooldown. Gilboa notes that it’s important for all kids to have a turn at making decisions, rather than leaving it to the loudest or strongest kids on the team.
Developing resilience in the athletes on your team is critical, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Follow these five simple steps to help your athletes become more resilient.
About TrueSport 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.
For more expert-driven articles and materials, visit TrueSport’s comprehensive LEARN resource.