Hello you Amazing Coaches!

May is here already and summer is just around the corner. Coaches across the country are helping their student-athletes achieve their goals on and off the bike. May is Mental Health Awareness month and we took that opportunity to highlight some signs of depression in young people. Riding bikes and being outside with your team can help student-athletes but it is not a cure all. Look out for and support your student-athletes and fellow coaches. If you notice changes in their behaviors or attitudes - let them know that you care. Everyone’s feelings and emotions are valid, no matter what they are. If you are struggling, or see someone in our community struggling - reach out. There is an entire community across the country that cares about and supports you.

Your influence is never neutral.

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 - Have You Ever?
-NICA Bike Check, Maintenance and Repair Standards
-How to Spot Depression in Kids
-NICA Store New Items
-Partner Content - 4 Questions to Help Change a Young Athlete’s Negative Thought Process
-NICA - Salsa Video Contest -- I’ll have more content for this in a week or so if that works!


Game of the Month - Have You Ever?

NorCal Stoke Captain 1

NorCal's Famous Stoke Captain!

Where: Open Space
Objective: I can build community. I can have fun!
Setup: Divide your team into groups of 8-10. Have groups form a circle.
Rules: Have groups of student-athletes stand in a circle. Ask them a question. If the question is true for them, they are to step towards the middle of the circle. If it isn’t true for them, they just stand still. They just keep going back and forth stepping forward and back if the questions are true for them.

Questions - Have You Ever…

...been to a NICA event?
...broken a bone mountain biking?
...gone backpacking?
...been on a roller coaster?
...dug a hole in the sand until you hit water?
...actively looked for your car in a parking lot for over 15 minutes?
...called your teacher mom?
...stayed up all night?
...picked up food off the ground and ate it?
...been to a rodeo in person?
...driven a go-cart
...had your tonsils surgically removed?
...given yourself a haircut?
...spent an entire night in a hammock?
...baked a cake or pie from scratch?
...flown without mechanical aid in your dreams?
...made a blanket fort?
...accidentally sent an inappropriate text message to your mom that was intended for a friend?
...lost your glasses and found them on your face?
...been out of the country?
...faked an illness to stay home from school?
...spent the night in the hospital?
...used someone else’s toothbrush?
...changed a baby’s diaper?
...farted at the grocery store and quickly left the isle?
...participated in a school musical?
...seen a cassette tape?
...made a snow angel?
...faked having to use the bathroom to get out of a boring class?

Reflection Question: What’s something new that you learned about a teammate?
Options: Allow coaches/student-athletes to ask questions, make sure they are NICA appropriate.
Progressions: You can also play this on bikes. Have student-athletes in the middle of a field and have them ride to one side if their answer is “yes” and the other side if their answer is “no.”

What is your favorite game to play at practice? Use this NICA Game Submission Form to share your favorite games.


NICA Bike Check, Maintenance and Repair Standards

NICA Safety Reports have shown bike safety checks (ABCDE - Air, Brakes, Chain, Derailleur, Everything Else) are a crucial mandatory procedure in reducing mountain biking injuries.
Student-athletes, coaches and other riders are required to complete these checks at the following times*:

-before team practice or other NICA activity or event

-after any crashes

-after changing a tire or any other mechanical work on the bike

-anytime a bike starts to look, sound or feel differently

-if there is a specific mechanical concern

-before sharing a loaner bike

*The objective is this becomes a life-long cycling safety procedure.

Responding to a Failed Bike Safety Check

Example of a failed bike safety check: The bike’s brakes aren’t functioning well enough to stop the bike immediately or the tires are flat.

When a bike safety check is failed whether at the trailhead or mid-ride, NICA Coaches or Event Staff will facilitate walking bikes to where they may be picked-up. If a student-athlete’s bike fails a safety check, parents or guardians should follow-up with their local bike shop. Bikes failing safety checks automatically are re-checked at the aforementioned times.

Maintenance and Repair Standards

Preventative bike maintenance is the expectation and standard for all NICA Student-Athletes and Coaches. All loaner bikes will have scheduled maintenance that is logged to be referenced should any injury be attributed to mechanical failure.

To avoid walking out or not being able to participate in a given activity, NICA Student-Athletes or Coaches may choose to take on field repairs with consideration for their mechanical training and/or experience (see table below):

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*Important note on brakes: Due to injuries attributed to brake failures, only bike mechanics with training and professional experience should complete brake or brake pad installation, maintenance, repair or replacement. Correspondingly, student-athletes, coaches, volunteers, staff and other riders should not attempt the above-mentioned mechanical work on brakes as part of any NICA activity or as part of their NICA team or league membership (implemented Spring 2021).

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Photographer - Adam Haynes


How to Spot Depression in Kids - Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is important to remember that coaches play a really important role in the lives of our student-athletes. We are trusted adults that have the opportunity to see kids at their best and help them navigate difficult situations and obstacles on the bike. This gives us the opportunity to help identify common signs of depression in our student-athletes and help connect their families with information and resources.

Here are a couple of articles about spotting depression in kids and what you can do as a coach to help them.
-Mayo Clinic “Teen Depression”
-How to Spot Depression in Children

Remember, you don’t need to be an expert to make a difference.

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Photographer - Aaron Puttcamp


NICA Store New Items

Coaches, new NICA merchandise is now available on The NICA Store! This spring season we have added a pocketable windbreaker and bucket hat to protect your eyes from the sun. To visit the Coaches section click HERE!


NICA - Salsa Adventure Video Contest

NICA has partnered with Salsa to bring you a “behind the handlebars” view of what Adventure means to NICA student-athletes. Now through the end of May - we want you to define your adventure in a short video clip for social media. Click HERE for more information and to submit your video. Select submissions will receive swag from Salsa and be featured on NICA and Salsa social media platforms!


4 Questions to Help Change a Young Athlete’s Negative Thought Process

As a coach for young athletes, whether they're in elementary school or high school, you're going to deal with the emotional roller coasters that young people experience. A fight with a friend over the weekend can translate to feelings of despair on game day, and stress over a championship game can leave an athlete feeling paralyzed. But as a coach, you can teach your athletes how to examine their feelings and move on from negative moments.

"Coaches care about athletes, which means we tend to give them reassurance when they have a negative thought," says TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. "That works for maybe 30 minutes, but it's ultimately going to backfire because now you have to keep reassuring them. The way to get out of that is to teach an athlete to think flexibly by asking the right questions."

According to Chapman, "The whole point of these questions is to get the athlete to look objectively at situations and not rely on emotional experiences. As the coach, you know the answers to the questions that you're asking, but it's going to be much better for the athlete if they work it out for themselves rather than you spoon-feeding them the answer.”

Here, Chapman offers some of the best questions to ask when your athlete is having a tough time or a negative moment on or off the field. And remember, these are also questions that you can teach athletes to ask themselves so that they learn how to question their behaviors and solve problems for themselves.

QUESTION: What's the evidence that this thought is true?

"This is one of my favorite questions to start with," says Chapman. "If a kid were to say, 'I know we're going to get blown out at the next game,' I would ask, 'Well, what's the evidence that this thought is true?'”

“They might answer something like, 'They beat us by about 20 in the last game.' Now we're starting to think evidence, not emotion."

QUESTION: What's happened in the past? Could there be another explanation?

"To change an athlete’s thought process, we’re asking evidence-based questions, not emotion-based questions," Chapman says. Your job here is to take the emotion out of the equation and force your athlete to come at a question logically, looking at only objective facts. Often, athletes will realize that their emotional argument isn't based in logic, which allows them to change their conclusion.

QUESTION: Does blank have to mean blank?

Being flexible is being able to generate other possible outcomes that are based on evidence, which means being able to say, "It could be ______. But then again, it could be ______." For example, getting beat in the last game sounds like a pretty good argument for getting beat this time. But follow that up with these questions: 'Does them beating us by 20 mean that they will automatically beat us by 20 again?'

Are you 100 percent sure that this outcome will occur? Are you certain that this thought is true?

In math class, students are told that they need to show their work on a test to get full credit. Make them do the same as athletes: What is the incontrovertible evidence that this is going to be the outcome?

QUESTION: What's the worst that can happen? Can you cope with that?

It sounds counter-intuitive to force an athlete to go even deeper into a negative thought. But leading the athlete through the worst-case scenario often helps them understand that the 'worst case' really isn't so bad. "This one is what I call the catastrophizing question," Chapman says. "Because catastrophizing is thinking the worst. It's actually great to make an athlete think through the worst thing that can happen. Once they decide what that is, ask: ‘Can you cope with that?’ The answer is almost always yes."

The easiest example is a playoff game. The worst thing that could happen is the team could lose because of a fumble made by the athlete. But can the athlete survive that? Of course. He won't be kicked off the team, his teammates will understand, and his coach will support him.

Many coaches wonder how to help their athletes overcome negative thoughts that impact performance and enjoyment of the sport. Use these questions to help your athletes change a negative thought process in their sport and beyond.

May2021 TS Partner PerformanceAnxiety IG

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.

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