As a NICA coach, you are assuming responsibility for your athletes’ well being and character development. Although this may at first be overwhelming, keep in mind coaching takes practice, patience, trial, error and time. All Coaches make mistakes. Your central job as a NICA coach is to keep yourself, your riders and your community safe. If you focus on managing risk and on progressing your riders appropriately you are already coaching with purpose and care.
Here are 8 Questions to think about to see if being a NICA Coach is right for you.
Question 1: Do you like kids?
To be a good coach you must like kids! Coaching requires taking the time to understand their challenges, their daily lives and respect that they are not just small adults. Your primary motivator for coaching should be to help young people grow, mature and develop into successful, well rounded and respectful adults. This requires communication and curiosity about who your riders are as people.
Question 2: Can you Coach for the right reasons?
Successful coaches practice athlete-centered coaching. This does not mean always doing what your athletes want. It means always having their best interests as your priority. If you coach to boost your own ego or to always be in control, your athletes will not trust you. If you are coaching to prioritize your own racing or fitness, goals, you will be unable to truly put your athletes needs first. If you cannot put your athletes needs first, you can’t be a good coach.
Stay focused on teaching your riders proper values such as discipline, hard work, overcoming fear, rising to challenges, taking pride in themselves, their teammates, their bikes, goal setting and self respect.
Question 3: Can you prioritize safety and risk management?
A Coach assumes the responsibility of doing everything possible to ensure the riders on his or her team will have safe, enjoyable experiences. Teach your riders and fellow coaches how to inspect their equipment before each ride and make sure each rider has the proper equipment and clothes. Teach riders to always ride with a riding style of respect. Set a high standard and don’t let riders develop unsafe habits. Make sure that you and all volunteers have emergency medical information for each rider during every practice. Always be prepared! NICA’s Risk Management Webinars will give you the information needed to prioritize safety and risk management.
Question 4: Can you be a role model, leader, and mentor?
Sometimes, the hardest part of being a coach is saying “no.” It’s understanding you are a coach, not a friend. You most certainly should be friendly! But know this distinction! Don’t be like your athletes. Don’t copy their language, behavior or body language. You are the adult and they are looking to you for reliability, consistency and boundaries. Act, dress, speak and ride the way you would like your riders to ride. Model good behavior.
Question 5: Can you be Organized?
NICA Head Coaches need concrete, workable plans for individual practices and the overall season. Head Coaches should determine what the team should accomplish every practice. Assistants and ride leaders must understand the plan to help execute. Coaches should collaborate to create a team culture that respects and promotes organized practices and races.
Question 6: Can you be Enthusiastic?
The thought of working with your riders should motivate you and get you excited about what they are accomplishing. Enthusiasm is critical to coaching young people.
Question 7: Do you know how young people define fun?
The number one reason kids drop out of sports is because it wasn’t fun. Remember this as you design your practices and interact with your team and fellow coaches. Don’t assume you know what fun is! Depending on their age, kids identify “fun” in over 80 different ways. Fun is not just goofing off. Kids like to learn. They cherish the feeling of improvement. they like to see and feel progress. They are also in organized sports to socialize, to be with their friend and to do something they like and they feel good at doing. Make sure you provide the opportunity for your riders to feel and measure progress every day.
Question 8: Are you Patient?
Every great athlete had a mentor who had the patience to teach the fundamentals of the sport. Remember, they are kids, not adults and do not have the same memory recall or attention spans as adults. The ability to go over things again and again, never losing enthusiasm is a must for a solid NICA Coach.
Do You Have What it Takes to Be a NICA Coach?
If you think you have what it takes – and we suspect you do – please get involved! Visit our Coach Resource Page to get started or Contact Us to get connected to riders, coaches and volunteers in your area. You’ll be glad you did.
Adopted from NICA’s “Do I Have What it Takes to be a NICA Coach?”