Hello you amazing coaches,

Nineteen leagues held events last weekend! The stoke was high across the country. I was able to attend my first race since 2019 and I was struck by how great it felt to be back in the company of so many talented coaches! Your programs have grown due to your commitment to creating fun, inclusive, and positive team cultures. Your work as coaches is the single most important thing that we do to get more kids on bikes and build strong minds, builds, character, and community through cycling.

I am so proud to call myself a NICA coach and I hope that you are as well.

Thank you for your dedication to student-athletes and the sport of mountain biking.

Mike McGarry and the Coach Licensing Team

In this Issue:
-Game of the Month: Passing Game
-Spring Leagues: Getting Ready for the Season
-What are your Student-Athletes and Team Goals?
-NICA Handbook Spotlight
-Trek NICA Pathfinders
-GRiT Corner
-Coach Benefits Update
-NICA Sponsor Content
-Partner Content - TrueSport


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

Game of the Month: Passing Game

Where: Open Space
Objective: Vision and Communication
101 Skills: Braking, Bike-Body Separation, Cornering
201 Skills: Cornering
Setup: Divide your team into pairs of relatively equal ability. Create a short course loop.
Rules: Teams ride the loop alternating passing each other; both riders must use appropriate communication and safe passing skills.
Progression: Game can also be done as a race.
Reflection Question: How did you support others when you found the activity difficult?


Spring Leagues: Getting Ready for the Season

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New NICA Learning Management System (LMS)

Once you have registered for your annual NICA Coach License in the PitZone registration system, you'll gain access to the new annual Coach License training modules. You will notice a brand new NICA Learning Management System (LMS) with new, exciting, interactive and engaging e-learning courses for each Coach License Level. Over the past year, the NICA Coach Licensing and Registration Team undertook a project to significantly enhance the substance and quality of the educational content contained in the Coach Licensing program and it is now live! Please review this FAQ about the update. Let us know if you have any remaining questions.

NICA Coach License Training Requirements

Required Annually:
* Sign the NICA release and participation waiver electronically
* Complete a background check
* Pay the annual NICA Coach License membership fee
* Complete NICA Coach License Level 1,2, or 3 course (good for 2 years)
* Complete Concussion Training (must upload completion certificate to PitZone)
* Complete NICA Philosophy and Risk Management course

Required Every Two Years:
1. Athlete Abuse and Awareness Training course
2. NICA Coach License Level 1, 2 or 3 course renewal

Courses completed in the NICA Learning Management System (LMS) will automatically update in your Pit Zone profile: You can access your NICA LMS account by signing into your Pit Zone account and clicking on "Access Coach Courses". Once you have completed the course in the NICA LMS, your results will automatically be reflected in the Pit Zone.

A quick reminder that you must be a Level 1 or above certified coach to participate in your team’s 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.

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Coach Profile in Pitzone


What are your student-athlete and team goals?

As the Fall Leagues get back to racing, it is important as a coach to check in with your student-athletes on their goals for the remainder of the season. Prior to setting personal goals, have your riders list their personal strengths and areas that need improvement.

Next, have meetings with the team to discuss this list and propose goals to help convert weaknesses into strengths. For new riders, having these meetings after the initial few weeks of practice will allow time to get used to the team environment. For returning riders, this can happen before practices start.

A good set of goals contain several short-term goals that support larger long-term goals. An example for a mountain biker could look like:
Long-term goal: Improve my stamina and energy in practices and in races and feel strong and powerful when I ride my bike
Long-term goal: Finish the season in the top 15% of a category
Short-term goal: Eat prior to and bring healthy snacks to practice/races
Short-term goal: Hydrate and eat breakfast and lunch every day before practice and/or races
Short-term goal: Drink and eat during all my rides

Check out the NICA Goal Setting Worksheet

Before or during these individual meetings, ask athletes to write their goals and share them. Discuss the goals, and once agreed upon, make copies for both of you to have. Encourage the athlete to display these goals where they can be seen regularly, as goals that are visible are more likely to be attained.

Checking In With Your Student-Athletes’ Goals
It’s important at various points in the season to remind athletes to review their goals. These meetings not only allow athletes an opportunity to revise their goals as needed, but also to re-examine their strengths and weaknesses or address any issues.

The end-of-season meetings are probably the most important, but can also be the most challenging to fit in. Even so, all the work spent on goals throughout the season is pointless if there is no follow up at the end of the season. If time is limited, still try to have at least a quick conversation with each rider to ask if they believe they met their goals for the year. This is also a great time to discuss areas of improvement and things they could work on in the off-season.

Setting Team Goals
Team goals can be set using a similar process as with personal goals, but should be established by the team with everyone present. Before setting team goals, have a discussion that covers the results from the previous season, roster changes, this season’s schedule, and the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, work together to establish team goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely)

*Adapted from True Sport’s “How to set goals with youth athletes” Complete resources on Goal Setting can be found HERE


NICA Handbook Spotlight


3.4.A: For purposes of safety and fairness to the participants, the following rules must be observed by all parents, coaches and all other persons in attendance, other than racers during their race.
1. No riding on the course.
2. No running or riding alongside the course or alongside a student while they are racing.
3. No providing food, water, or support outside of the feed zones.

3.4.B: A violation of this rule will result in an orange level penalty against the team that the League Director determines to be the intended beneficiary of such action.
1. First Offense: 25 point penalty deducted from team score on race day
2. Second offense: 50 point penalty deducted from team score on race day
3. Third offense: 100 point penalty deducted from team score on race day


Trek NICA Pathfinders Scholarship Applications OPEN for Spring Leagues

NICA has partnered with Trek on the Pathfinders Scholarship to bring greater diversity, equity and inclusion to youth mountain biking. The Trek NICA Pathfinders Scholarship provides recipients with a Trek Marlin mountain bike, helmet, shoes, accessories, and a kit. Importantly, recipients receive funding to cover all costs of participation and racing for the season. Applications are currently being accepted for teams and student-athletes who will participate in a Spring 2022 NICA League.

Learn more and apply today HERE

Trek pathfinders

NICA student-athlete getting fitted with a new bike and helmet from Trek Pathfinders!


Now that we are into fall race season, you may be wondering about those GRiT pre-rides that many leagues are offering during their race weekends. These are opportunities for female coaches and student-athletes to pre-ride the course, either before or after the pre-ride is open to all.

Why offer a girls-only pre-ride? Many of our female student-athletes are brand new to the sport when they first join NICA. The idea of racing can be intimidating, especially when there may be only 1-2 girls on their team. A GRiT pre-ride gives them the opportunity to get to know the course in a low stress, non-competitive environment, removing a potential barrier to their participation in awesome NICA race weekends. The more barriers we can remove, the more likely female riders are to participate and to enjoy the experience. If they have fun and gain confidence, they are more likely to stick around, helping us build larger and stronger leagues overall.

Tennessee had more than 50 female student-athletes, moms, and coaches joining in the GRiT Saturday Sisters pre-ride at their first race weekend!

The Arkansas league held a GRiT Race Party event, which was meant to be a fun intro to racing, and a way to practice race starts before the official race season. The day included games and social events too… it was just plain FUN for the girls and coaches involved. Check it out HERE

Talk to your GRiT Coordinator or reach out to Emily at if you are interested in getting involved as a coach with GRiT events like this in your league!

Learn more about the NICA GRiT Program HERE


Photo: Beth Pride Ford


Coach Benefits Update

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NICA Coach Benefits

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. During this unprecedented time we ask that the NICA community continue to be patient with our sponsors as there will be product delays.

Velocirax is excited to offer all NICA coaches a discount program with their vertical mounted bike racks!

All NICA Riders and Level 1 Coaches use code NICARIDERS for a 5% discount on your order (Code is only accepted for 1 rack per coach). Go to -
* Level 2 Coaches: To confirm your eligibility and to receive your discount code, fill out the coach benefit form below.
* Level 3 Coaches: To confirm your eligibility and to receive your discount code, fill out the coach benefit form below.

Fill out the Coach License Benefit Form HERE

For more information on Coach Benefits click HERE


NICA Sponsors Spotlight

Check out Bontrager Custom Cycling Apparel

Looking to build an identity and kit for your NICA team? The Bontrager Custom Apparel Program is a great way to access fast, easy and affordable custom cycling apparel. The process is pretty simple:

1. Decide- Choose the garments you want to customize. Options range from shorts and tech tees to arm warmers and caps.
2. Design- Choose from semi-custom templates and simply apply your team logo and colors or go full custom and work with Bontrager’s talented designers to bring your team’s vision to life. A 5-piece minimum per style is required.
3. Deliver- It only takes 6-7 weeks after designs are finalized until your team will be sporting their unique pieces.
1. Decide- Choose the garments you want to customize. Options range from shorts and tech tees to arm warmers and caps.
2. Design- Choose from semi-custom templates and simply apply your team logo and colors or go full custom and work with Bontrager’s talented designers to bring your team’s vision to life. A 5-piece minimum per style is required.
3. Deliver- It only takes 6-7 weeks after designs are finalized until your team will be sporting their unique pieces.

To learn more about the program or to start designing your team’s apparel, visit



Meet Chihiro - As a NICA Alumni and Coach - he knows how to make your uniform process easy and fun!

As a long time partner, Podiumwear has grown with NICA over the last six years to make our process as coach-friendly as possible. Chihiro brings his expertise to all of his NICA clients and helps overcome issues you might not even see coming! We're proud to say he's been with us for two years, and he's only getting started.

If you need someone in your corner - shoot him a message at and we can start making your uniforms as easy as taking your bike off the rack.

Visit for more information.


Partner Content - TrueSport


If your young athlete tends to lose focus partway through a season or fails to achieve their goals by the end of the season, they aren’t alone. Setting and achieving suitable goals isn’t an easy task, especially for kids who are also dealing with the expectations of the adults around them.

Here, Daniel Gould, PhD, director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, explains why your athlete is struggling with their goals and what they can do differently to find success.

“With kids, it’s easy for them not to own their goal,” says Gould. “In other words, a coach or a parent often tells them what their goal is, and because they didn’t come up with it, the athlete really doesn’t have the drive to commit to it.”
You can help an athlete overcome this roadblock by letting them make a list of goals for the season without any input from you. You can discuss the goals after they are written out, but until then, refrain from giving advice. Make sure it’s really the athlete’s goals, not them echoing what they’ve heard or been told.

“Every adult has experience making a New Year’s Resolution that we didn’t follow up on,” Gould says. “That’s because we spend so much time identifying what the goal is, but then we spend a lot less time developing the plan for achieving it.” Without a plan for getting to the finish line, a young athlete is dreaming, not goal-setting.
Gould explains, “A child might say, ‘I want to make the starting lineup.’ But to make the starting lineup, do they know what they need to do? Most kids will say, ‘I don’t know.’ But you can help your athlete figure it out. Depending on the sport, it may be ‘I need to improve certain types of shots.’ Or more simply, ‘I need to be on time to every practice.’” Help your child create a road map, either written out or drawn as a timeline, of how to achieve each goal.

“This is a really common problem,” Gould says. “Everybody sets goals at the beginning of the year, but rarely do they revisit them on a regular basis to evaluate progress. Goal-setting only works if people get feedback relative to their goal.” Both coaches and parents can figure out a way to create ongoing feedback for an athlete and incorporate some kind of metric or evaluation.
Research has also shown that motivation tends to wane between the time of goal-setting and the point of achieving the goal, but setting related mini-goals that are actionable can keep motivation high.

“We know that goals that are specific and measurable are much more effective than ‘do your best’ general goals,” Gould says. “For example, if I tell my kid that I want him to have a better attitude, that’s extremely general. That means so many things to different people. Instead, really break down what behaviors you want to see, such as demonstrating good sportsmanship, not making any snide remarks to officials, hustling between all drills, and saying thank you to your coach. Really clarify what success means.”

And goals don’t have to be massive championship-winning goals to be satisfying. Research has shown that smaller goals that are more easily achieved can be incredibly satisfying, so make sure that your athlete isn’t just setting huge goals.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan famously said that he missed more than 9,000 shots in his career. There are baseball players in the Hall of Fame who failed seven out of 10 times at the plate. “The whole idea that you have to be perfect is just unrealistic, yet kids believe that it’s possible,” says Gould. “But sports are a great way to teach a young person that one failure doesn’t mean that a goal is now unachievable or out of reach.

If they fail at a goal, just help them reboot: Set new, realistic goals based on new information.” Later in life, we rarely have the opportunity to learn from failures with minimal repercussions, so use youth sport as a way for kids to build those skills and resilience that will serve them outside of sport and later in life.

Sometimes, an athlete’s failure to meet a goal is simply a case of mismatched expectations between them and an adult. For instance, a parent might have been the star defensive soccer player in high school and therefore expect the same from their child – even though that young athlete would rather be playing tennis. Make sure athletes actually want to achieve the goals that they set!

It’s not surprising that many young athletes lose interest in goals or fail to achieve their goals during a season. Keep these barriers to success in mind as you help your young athletes set and work towards their goals.

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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