Contributed by Bonnie Larsen, Fundamentals Lead for the MHSCL Demo Team

In the past, NICA offered MTB 101 as a way to train coaches how to teach their student athletes. MTB 101 exposed coaches to the skills their riders would need to safely complete a race. While many skills were demonstrated, there was neither the focus on increasing individual coach's skills nor was there a follow-on course for teaching more advanced skills.

Additionally, instruction was not provided for teaching the coaches how to coach. With the exponential growth of NICA leagues many well-intentioned coaches started teams to meet the demand in their local area, but they lacked formal on-the-bike training.  In the interest of increasing the overall skill level of coaches and to assist coaches in uniform instruction from team to team, this year NICA is rolling out On the Bike Skills sessions (OTBS).

OTBS sessions are intended to give coaches concrete instruction in modeling and teaching riding skills, allowing them to lead by example. During On-the-Bike Skills training, participants are instructed on two primary coach functions:

  1. How to teach adolescents bike handling skills development and refinement; and
  2. How to become proficient (enough) to teach adolescents skills development and refinement.

The classes are designed so each coach has an opportunity to practice skills in the company of their peers and to learn best practices in mountain bike skills instruction.

OTBS sessions are patterned after training developed by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA).

OTBS 101 gives coaches the basics to help coaches provide fundamental skills instruction, manage a practice, and lead team rides. Skills emphasized include neutral position, ready position, braking, basic bike/body separation, shifting and climbing.

OTBS 201 continues with a natural progression of skills and provides additional resources for coaches to manage advanced practice activities for teams. Skills covered in OTBS 201 include building on the fundamental skills of OTBS 101 in addition to ratcheting, track stands, small circles, switchbacks, rock dodge, and basic front and rear wheel lifts.

OTBS 301 In 2019, NICA will implement OTBS 301 with training for even more advanced skills to be addressed.

NICA has listened to the feedback provided by coaches and student athletes and realizes that racing may not be the main focus for many riders in the league. In an effort to provide an experiential outdoor education to our student athletes, these advanced OTBS training sessions are intended to satisfy the needs of all. Whether your riders are interested in performance, adventure, or both, they will find the skills they are learning to be fun and challenging, allowing them to ride with greater confidence and enjoyment.

After all, in the end it’s all about #morekidsonbikes!