Now is a great time to work on skills with your teams, with the goal of reducing risk, determining rider ability levels and increasing fun. I urge you to focus on your new riders. You may feel compelled to spend time with your more experienced racers in order to get them ready for the season, but your biggest win will be helping your new riders increase their skills. Investment now will bring great rewards! Similarly, your most experienced riders, the sharp ones who seem to be better at riding than you are, can still absolutely benefit from your experience, your wisdom, and from doing skills and drills. Do they already seem like they know everything already? If so, encourage them to “Show me.”

Work skills into every lap, every station, and every point on your ride. A beginner might have to ride through a chicane [formed of cones] you’ve placed on the ground. A varsity rider may have to stop, squeeze both brakes, and hop in a circle, starting at 0 degrees and finishing at 360 degrees. Having skills stations along your training ride keep kids from getting bored, and moves focus from endurance training to motor skills training. Lastly, your training plan for the year should incorporate skills throughout, and should consider progression over the year, and across the four year-seven year spectrum. Your goal is to produce complete mountain bikers, and you are off to a great start!