Feature: Michael Vickers
With dark nights and poor weather, winter can be a challenging time for coaches to deliver coaching sessions. However, with a bit of forethought and planning, coaching activities can keep going all year round. Coaching and Education Officer and Level 2 BMX and MTB coach, Michael Vickers, shares his experiences on how this can be achieved.
Photo: Michael Vickers provides his tips on winter cycling
During my time as a volunteer coach at a local BMX club, it ran regular sessions at the track through the summer taking advantage of the light evenings. The sessions usually consisted of an hour’s coached riding on a Tuesday evening and Saturday morning for beginner and advanced riders. Thursday evenings were dedicated to gate practice and opportunities to ride the track.
Come winter, however, track time was scarce, because it was not possible to ride in the dark or in poor weather conditions. Therefore, the club had to consider how to continue developing riders in more imaginative ways. Using the regular coaching slots the club decided to deliver the following sessions during the winter:
Tuesday evening (Circuit Session) – the club booked a local school sports hall and used its apparatus to run a circuit session under the guidance of an appropriately qualified coach.
The session was attended by riders aged 7 to 45 years old, so the coach had to adapt activities to accommodate all riders. Riders were introduced to off-the-bike activities, with younger riders introduced to movement and body weight exercises, while more experienced riders took part in a circuit session designed to maintain their maintain fitness and activity levels over the winter.
Thursday evening (Car park Skills) – using a floodlit car park, the club continued to run BMX skills sessions using a portable start gate to work on gate practice. With the use of the car park layout, markings for the car park bays and a few cones, sessions could be focussed on developing Fundamental BMX skills, such as cornering, manuals and group riding, while also incorporating a few races using this layout.
Saturday morning (Track Session) – the session was similar to the summer one, providing riders with track time and coaching over the winter.
Tops Tips for Coaching through the Winter
• Floodlit and indoor venues are a useful alternative if lighting or access to regular coaching venues is not available.
• Consider how conditions may be affected and what the implications are for your riders. For example, riding on a muddy field will be much more difficult in the winter opposed to a dry one in the summer.
• Ensure riders wear extra layers. Keep explanations and discussions to a minimum so that riders are moving and keeping warm.
• Consider how else to develop riders when regular on-the-bike activities are not possible. Bike repair workshops – teach riders how to fix a puncture, organise a trip to events through the winter, so riders can watch and learn.
• Consider alternative cycling disciplines such as MTB and Cyclo-cross through the winter, as cross discipline training to maintain fitness and develop bike handling skills for all forms of cycling.
If you have any experience or useful tips of running coaching sessions through the winter then please we’d love to hear from you on Twitter: @bccoaches using hashtag #CoachingNews.
Alternatively, please contact British Cycling’s Coaching Education team on firstname.lastname@example.org.