Hello you Amazing Coaches!

Racing is returning for fall leagues across the country! For some leagues this will be the first time they have raced in two years. That means there will be a lot of new racers, families, and coaches at their first races ever. First races are super exciting but they can also be intimidating. As coaches, we can help manage nerves or we can contribute to student-athlete anxiety. Over the next couple weeks help your student-athletes understand what to expect at a NICA race, listen to their questions, and help them understand that being nervous means they care.

Once they cross the finish line at their first race, make sure you bestow the title of “Mountain Bike Racer” on them. They will have earned it!

Keep up the good work getting more kids on bikes and thanks for being a coach!
Mike McGarry and the Coach Licensing Team

In This Issues
-Game of the Month
-Prepping the Team for Race #1 (Fall Leagues)
-Coach Licensing - Updated Courses and FAQs (Spring Leagues)
-Coach License Requirements to Participate in Practice
-GRiT Corner
-Coach Benefits Update
-NICA Sponsors Spotlight
-Partner Content - TrueSport


Game of the Month - Easiest Gear Slalom Racing

Screen Shot 2021-08-11 at 9.09.22 AM

We need your images of your teams playing games! Email us at

Easiest Gear Slalom Racing

Where: Open Field with a consistent low grade downhill slope.
Objectives: I can build gearing and cadence skills. I can have fun.
Setup: Divide your group into equal teams. Build a side by side dual slalom course using soccer cones or flags. Student-athletes start at the top and race down side by side.
101 Skills: Ready Position, Braking, Bike-Body Separation
Rules: Riders have to start in their easiest gear and cannot change gears. This makes the race more about looking ahead and picking a line that preserves their speed.
Reflection Question: What advice would you give to a new teammate playing this game?
Progression: After several rounds of easiest gear only, open it up to full on, any gear with shifting. End the practice with an elimination race for the whole team until one student is left standing.


Prepping the Team for Race #1

Photo Credit: Wisconsin League

As we approach the first NICA race weekends of 2021 here are some helpful coaching tips for your student-athletes to prepare for the first race of the season!

Bike Checks and Routine: Bike checks and maintenance, warmups, race focus, nutrition. These are all activities that should be discussed before race day. Racers should have a pre-race race day routine so they can focus on their warm up, hydration, nutrition, and visualizing their success, however they define it, for the race. Show some pride and wash your bike before race day also!

Race starts: Practice race starts! Why? Race starts have the highest occurrence of athlete injuries and is also one of the most stressful things a new rider contends with. Race jitters, inexperience, a desire to put in a strong performance all contribute to making race starts a little chaotic. Assess your individual athlete’s experience and confidence racing and guide them to adopting a start strategy that is appropriate and will get them safely on the trail and to the finish line.

Passing and Communication: Have your team practice passing on the trail (single and double track) and communicating loudly and clearly while passing on the trail. It is important that both student athletes communicate they are passing and acknowledge when they are passing. Temper aggressiveness and the desire to get ahead of the next rider with courtesy and respect.

Maintaining a Line: This can be a challenge for all riders. Riders must maintain awareness of people around them and do their best to ride in a predictable manner. Likewise, riders must understand the hazards of being close to other riders and overlapping wheels or handlebars.

Feeding: Trying to pull out a bottle and drink while riding or grabbing a bottle from someone are not easy tasks! It’s important that student-athletes remember to hydrate during the race and that they know how to properly accomplish this important task. Make it a part of your practices leading up to race day!
Coaches should do everything they can to calm riders’ nerves.

Preparation and thought go a long way to help. Nervous is natural, fearful is counterproductive.

Before Race weekend

Read the Race Flyer: There is a ton of information in these race flyers. Many common questions on activities, times, and resources can be found in this flyer.

Checklists: Did your student-athletes remember everything for race day? Please share the NICA checklist with your student-athletes and parents.

Recruit Volunteers: Strongly encourage parents and coaches to “share the load”. Engage parents to help with both team tasks and league race setup and volunteering!

Have a plan for your team: Think through your schedule and team activities before race weekend.


Coach Licensing - Updated Courses and FAQs

When Pitzone opens for 2021 Spring Leagues, there will be new interactive e-learning courses for each license level. 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.

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 course 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.

FAQ for Coach Licensing Revision

Screenshot from new NICA Coach Licensing Courses


Coach License Requirements to Participate in Practice

A quick reminder that you must be a Level 1 or above certified coach to participate in your teams’ practices. Please take a moment to check your NICA Pit Zone profile and make sure your NICA license status is at a minimum Level 1 before you begin participating in activities with your student-athletes, and Level 2 before leading any athletes on the trail. There is now a reminder in your profile (see below) that reminds you to be Level 1 before attending any team related training.

If you have a red exclamation mark next to your name in the Pit Zone, you are missing at least one of the requirements for Level 1 certification and you cannot ride with or coach student-athletes.

The minimum requirements to work with NICA student-athletes are as follows:

Pit Zone Registration - Complete your annual registration in the NICA Pit Zone. This includes:
* Signing the participation waiver electronically
* Completing a background check
* Paying your annual NICA membership fee.

Concussion Course - As part of the NICA Coach License Program we require all coaches to complete the NFHS: Concussion in Sports or the CDC Concussion Course annually. Upload your Certificate of Completion (digital certification the CDC or NFHS provides once the training has been completed) directly to your coach license in the NICA Pit Zone.

NICA coach courses completed in Litmos that automatically update in your PitZone profile: You can access your Litmos account by signing into your Pit Zone account and clicking on "Access Coach Courses." Once you have completed the course in Litmos, your results will automatically be reflected in the Pit Zone.


With race season approaching for fall leagues, remember that some of your female athletes may approach the season differently than the boys. Some may be quite competitive. But competition is not an intrinsic motivator for all female student-athletes. It’s common for newer female athletes to be nervous about competition, uncertain about their abilities, and apprehensive about racing in general.

How can you help increase their comfort level?
* Remind them that it’s about the process and enjoying the experience, not the outcome. Help them identify non-outcome related race goals.
* Create a culture of support, cooperation and camaraderie by including non-competitive activities in your practices, even as race season nears.
* Provide opportunities for separate skills instruction, evaluation, practice time and space for girls, if appropriate for your team.
* Encourage them to join a GRiT pre-ride if offered by your league.
* Encourage them to register with a NICA friend and attend a race together.
* Help them connect to other girls at the GRiT tent during a race weekend.

Above all else, understand that their feelings are very real, if they are feeling anxiety about competition. Take the time to help them feel heard and understood and that they are not alone. That will go a long way towards helping your new female riders get comfortable with the idea of racing!

Learn more about the NICA GRiT Program HERE


Coach Benefits Update

NICA Coaches! As you are probably aware - the US is still experiencing an unprecedented bike boom which has resulted in an industry-wide bicycle, components and accessories shortage. Due to COVID-19 there have been major global supply chain disruptions and combined with the increased demand it has made it difficult for companies to meet the current demand. This is impacting nearly all of our industry supporters.

During this unprecedented time we ask that the NICA community continue to be patient with our sponsors as there will be product delays. Please also be patient and courteous with your local bike shops and work with them to meet your purchase needs and team support. Thank you for your continued hard work and support to get #morekidsonbikes

For more information on Coach Benefits click HERE


NICA Sponsors Spotlight

Worldwide Cyclery

The Worldwide Cyclery staff recently visited Mammoth, California to get some MORE miles for NICA!

Worldwide Cyclery ( exists to support people having fun on bikes, and through their Miles for NICA staff riding program, they have donated over $8,600 to NICA in the first half of 2021 -- which means #morekidsonbikes!


Club Ride Apparel

Built for Adventure - Club Ride Apparel

On the bike, off the bike, in the field or at home - thanks Club Ride ( for keeping our National Program Staff looking rad for the ride and everything after. Check out Club Ride's great selection of mountain biking apparel AND get 20% off your next purchase when you use "NICA20" at checkout. Promo is good for one use per person and is only applicable to full price items.


Partner Content - TrueSport

7 Tips for Meal Prep to Fuel Young Athletes for the Week

Meal prepping is a common recommendation for busy parents who want to provide healthy meals and make weeknights smoother, especially when there’s a young athlete with a packed schedule and a big appetite in the house. But meal prepping can also be overwhelming, and most people simply don't have six hours to spend in the kitchen on a weekend.

Thankfully, meal prep doesn't have to be a drawn-out process. Here, TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, shares her tips for successful, simple meal prepping.

1. Planning is part of meal prep
Carve out time once a week to plan out meals for the coming week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks—the busier your schedule is, the more important this step becomes! "Every weekend, I sit down and look at the week coming up," says Ziesmer. "For instance, I know that on Tuesdays, my son has soccer until 6:15 p.m., which means there's not a lot of time to make dinner. We know that meal should be leftovers from the night before, which means the night before, I need to make a bigger meal so that we have those leftovers."

2. Build a regular grocery list
Meal prep also means having all your ingredients on hand. Once you decide on meals for the week, you can build a comprehensive grocery list. "Blindly going to the grocery store and shopping at random usually means you'll be back at the grocery store within a day or two," Ziesmer notes. And once you've created this master grocery list once—ideally in a digital format so it doesn't get thrown out—it becomes easier to quickly look in the fridge and pantry each week and add or subtract items from the list as needed.

3. Redefine what meal prep means
The concept of meal prepping calls to mind stacks of perfectly organized containers in the fridge, labeled with which night they'll be eaten. That's not realistic for most families. "Before I had kids, I used to spend Sundays meal-prepping, making all of my food for the entire week, but now there's no way I have half a day to devote to that," says Ziesmer. Now, she meal preps by always cooking extra when she is in the kitchen. "Cook extra when you do cook! Rather than make everything on Sunday, I double recipes for dinner every time I cook it, and then we have that for lunches, or use the extra ingredients to have a dinner made with leftovers," she explains.

4. Apply meal prep to breakfast too
Most people think of meal prep as a lunch or dinner solution, but Ziesmer also loves simplifying a healthy breakfast. "I make overnight oats to save cooking time in the morning, or I'll make a big egg and vegetable frittata with whatever vegetables are starting to wilt in the fridge and we'll eat that for a few days," she says. You can find a great hot oatmeal recipe here, but instead of cooking it on the stove, simply put the ingredients together in a container and refrigerate overnight, then warm up in the microwave in the morning or enjoy cold!

5. The right equipment helps
"Getting an Instant Pot is easily my number one tip," Ziesmer says. A pressure cooker like the Instant Pot can cook an entire chicken in under an hour, slow cook a chili or stew all day, or make rice in minutes. "It's great for quickly cooking frozen meat and vegetables—with so much going on, I often forget to take things out of the freezer for dinner, but with the Instant Pot, I can still cook quickly," she says. An Instant Pot or slow cooker also helps avoid massive cleanups, since most meals can be made using just that pot. And since you don't need to stir or sauté when using an Instant Pot, you can dump your ingredients in, walk away, and come back to a perfectly prepared meal.

6. Look for whole food-friendly shortcuts
Think past the traditional Sunday meal prep and keep your kitchen stocked with foods that don't require much forethought or meal prep at all. Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh ones, and if you're the kind of person who often ends up with wilted, moldy vegetables in your crisper, you may want to swap at least some of your veggies to frozen options that can be sautéed or tossed in a stew or chili. And stock favorite easy meal staples: Things like canned wild-caught salmon, five-minute brown rice, canned black beans, and a jar of salsa in the pantry can be used to make a healthy burrito bowl in minutes.

7. Use spices and condiments to keep it interesting
Rather than making completely different meals for every day of the week, consider how basic ingredients can be seasoned in different ways in order to make each meal taste completely different despite the same base. For instance, chicken and brown rice cooked in the Instant Pot can be made into a Thai-inspired dish by adding some peanut sauce and frozen peppers and onions in a stir-fry; or a curry with the addition of some curry powder, a bit of coconut milk, and frozen cauliflower; or a burrito bowl with some shredded lettuce, guacamole, and pico de gallo. This simplifies your meal prep and prevents tastebud fatigue.

Meal prep should work for you and your family, which may mean reimagining the process to save time, accommodate picky tastebuds, and work around your athlete’s busy schedule.

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.

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