Hearty NorCal coaches learn NICA OTB 101 and 201,
despite the smokey conditions

This weekend I gave a talk on NICA/ NorCal Coaching Philosophy at the first Coach Summit of the 2019 season. The anecdotes and supplemental information were my contribution, and contain the wisdom I gained from hearing Jerry Lynch and John O’Sullivan speak at the 2018 NICA National Conference. If you are interested in reading their books, here they are: Jerry Lynch, Coaching with Heart and John O’Sullivan, Changing the Game. I recommend them to you, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Coach Wooden and Me. I’ve heard this talk given before by other, wiser coaches, and some of my experience is in the talk as well. I’ll present it to my coaches in Oakland, and again at the January Coach Summit. We had a workshop after the talk that I think got people thinking. Net, it’s not about the bike; it’s about caring, and showing up. Here’s my deck from the talk, as well as this video I made, where you, the coaches of NorCal (and one from AR) answer my question “Why do you coach?”.

“A coach’s primary function should be not to make better players, but to make better people.” —John Wooden

Q: I’m working my way to level 2 coach and wondered, what constitutes field work? Requirement is 20 hours, which I feel I may have, but didn’t see a description on the NICA website.

A: Field work is any time spent in contact with NICA student-athletes in a mountain bike team setting. This can be time spent participating in team rides or skills clinics. Leading team meetings also builds valuable leadership experience. Time spent at races and camps supporting NICA student-athletes counts as well.

Q: I have a question on coach staffing for ride groups. This year, we’ve recruited 6 new level 1 coaches (some with past experience on HS mtb team) but returning coaches are dwindling. So far, we have our level 3 head coach and 1-2 level 2 coaches. We plan to have ~25-30 student riders broken down into 4 groups. Given that many coaches are not available on weekdays, do all ride groups require a level 2 ride lead? In other words, can level 1 coaches act as ride leads and sweeps?

A: I personally like to see a level 2 with each group, but you will have to make do with what you’ve got. Basically, I think two level 1, minimum per group. What I do when it’s a very small coach turnout is to run circuits. Bring the entire group with a lead and a sweep to a place where you can loop. Then play some skills games and setup a lap course, give the fastest kids more work to do, scaling laps counts down as appropriate, for each kid. Mix a coach in with the kids while the other keeps track of laps, maybe practice bottle feeds, coaches take turns riding with the kids. Consider doing the lapped workout as a scratch race; Fastest rider starts from “scratch”, and everyone else gets a “handicap”. If you do it right, the fastest and newest riders are actually racing against one another. Then finish with “dessert”, some fun trail they all like, before returning, talking about the positives of the ride and sending them home happy.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
Morgan Fletcher
NorCal Coach Mentor