The essential elements of good competitive sports philosophy for coaching young athletes:
Know your motives for coaching. Think about what you expect to gain from your coaching experience. Make sure your principles of coaching are compatible with the philosophy of the total program.
Make your own education a priority. Take advantage of every opportunity available to learn more about coaching techniques, teaching skills, and helping athletes set personal goals and reach for them.
Work with every athlete on your team. The most highly skilled and least skilled members of your team should be given equal attention. It is more important that all athletes participate and have fun than that a few good athletes dominate the action.
Work on basic skills and teach good physical fitness habits. Teach the skills and concentrate on the basics. Help athletes become conscious of the importance of proper execution without interfering excessively.
Demonstrate the importance of fitness habits such as warm-up and conditioning exercises. Talk to your cyclists about diet, rest, and involvement in other sports and activities.
Use positive reinforcement as often as possible. Early successes are essential for developing self-confidence. Peer recognition and acceptance are very important.
Teach fair play. Competing fairly is an essential part of competitive sports. It is a set of attitudes which include:
- Respect for oneself; taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and learning.
- Respect for one’s teammates; working to become a team member who unselfishly contributes to the good of the whole team.
- Respect for the other team; considering the other team as an essential partner in competition.
- Respect for the rules and officials who uphold them.
Emphasize both learning skills and sportsmanship, accepting both winning and losing, respecting the officials, cooperating, always giving one’s best effort, and having fun.
Help cyclists set and evaluate individual goals. Competing against oneself is perhaps the best way to improve skills. Help cyclists measure their skills, set goals for the future, and work to reach their goals.
Keep winning in perspective. Winning competitions is one of the many important goals in sports. Help competitors (and parents) become aware of other important goals: learning skills; becoming more fit; being a good leader sometimes; a good follower other times; dealing with the emotions of sports; and having fun.
Encourage lifetime involvement in sports and physical activity. More importantly, regular cardiovascular exercise is essential to continued physical well-being. Unlike some sports which are appropriate primarily for the young, cycling can be enjoyed for many years.
Work with the whole person: spirit, mind, and body. Physical fitness is important, but so are mental attitudes and spiritual growth. Youth sports programs should emphasize holistic individual development.
Make sure that equipment and facilities meet safety standards and are appropriate to the age of cyclists. Emphasis should be given to safety in teaching techniques and elements of competition.
Involve the whole family. Parents should be viewed as participants rather than as spectators. They should be included as coaches and officials, in special activities, and encouraged to get involved in the sport as a family.
Encourage skilled volunteer leadership by all participants. Volunteers are crucial to youth sports programs. Cyclists, parents, and others should be encouraged to share responsibility for sports programs and to get involved in service opportunities in other community programs as well.
Note: The DCV youth sports philosophy is replicated from material provided in the YMCA coach’s manual. Between work, school, sports, volunteering, and all the other demands of daily life today, families need all the support they can get. It’s about nurturing strong family bonds by providing a safe place to learn skills, develop relationships, build self-esteem, and make friends.
Squirts (ages 5-8) FREE
The Squirts course is designed to teach elementary cycling skills and basic bicycle safety to youngsters who are learning how to ride bikes. The Squirts are brought through a fun and exciting program that ranges from helmet safety to challenging obstacle courses. Participants must provide their own bicycles and helmets. The Squirts do not need to be able to ride without the use of training wheels. Please consult program schedule for class dates and times.
Youth Basic (ages 9-12) FREE
Geared to the aspiring young cyclist who has no track experience, or has track experience but no interest in racing, this course provides instruction in basic riding skills, bicycle safety and introductory racing techniques. There will be limited emphasis on racing. Please consult program schedule for class dates and times.
Junior Basic (ages 13-18) FREE
Junior Basic classes are geared to the aspiring young cyclist who has no track experience or no interest in racing. Participants will learn basic track-riding skills, bicycle safety and introductory racing techniques. Please consult program schedule for class dates and times.
Adult Fitness (ages 19 and above) $50
Take your cycling and racing skills to new levels with this class, which combines an emphasis on fitness and training techniques (such as warm-ups, drills, individual/group work-outs, cool-downs, recovery strategies, nutrition, season planning and logistical preparations). While the Adult Fitness courses focus on fitness and training preparation participants still get race instruction as well as race training. Beginner and intermediate riders are eligible for this course. Track bikes and helmets are provided for these sessions, but participants are welcome to bring their own equipment. Please consult program schedule for class dates and times.
Adult Advanced (ages 19 and above) $50
For the aspiring competitive cyclist who has gained experience in the Adult Fitness or competitive cyclists in their first year of racing or those with significant racing background but little or no track experience. The Adult Advanced course focuses on training techniques, racing skills and tactics. Track bikes and helmets are provided for these sessions, but participants are welcome to bring their own equipment. Please consult program schedule for class dates and times.
What is the BRL?
The Bicycle Racing League (BRL) is an introductory youth bicycle racing program for new riders! Licensed riders are welcome to sign up too. For new riders the Junior Basic course is a pre-requisite to the BRL. Riders are selected to their respective teams after the completion of the introductory lessons held at the beginning of each program. Practices focus on the instruction of the skills and techniques of racing on the bicycle track.
The BRL employs coaches certified by USA Cycling (USAC), the national governing body of cycling. The Velodrome’s coaching philosophy is founded upon established concepts of training and racing taught using a guided-discovery approach.
What is the minimum age for participation?
Boys and girls ages 13-18 are eligible to participate. When racing there are minimum participation numbers required for each age-group’s race. If these minimum numbers are not met age-groups may be combined. Contact the DC Velodrome (DCV) for additional information.
Is the introductory course mandatory?
Yes, the introductory course is part of the scheduled program.
What are the program dates and times?
The BRL Program runs for six weeks, three times per season, during the spring, summer, and late summer/fall. The BRL league normally starts with one week of introductory and refresher classes. Following the introductory classes there are team practices, scrimmages and racing. The season concludes with the BRL Team Championships.
How long does a practice/race last?
Each practice is 90-minutes long and is scheduled from 4:30-6:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:30 p.m. Races are scheduled from 4:30 to approximately 5:30 p.m. Races may be shorter or longer then planned as the riders determine the pace of the night.
Are all sessions mandatory?
Sessions are not “mandatory” but we encourage consistent participation to learn the most about track cycling. The DCV will make every attempt to work with the participants’ requests and ensure the proper program fit, whether that is via a team change, some additional instruction or a schedule alteration. If a participants needs to arrive late or depart early, make advanced arrangements with your coach.
Is there any flexibility with the program schedule?
The program schedule is fixed. However, if your schedule conflicts with the BRL schedule, contact DCV to address the issue, as soon as possible. We will make every attempt to address all reasonable requests.
What is the difference between teams?
The only differences between teams are designated practice days and coaching staff. Each team uses the same equipment and receives the same time, opportunities and instruction. All teams race once or twice during a week and a half period towards the end of the program.
How are the teams organized?
Teams are organized by age-group and by ability.
Boys and Girls Age Groups: 13-14, 15-16, 17-18
Is equipment provided?
All equipment is provided (free-of-charge) for program participants. The DCV maintains a fleet of Fuji track bicycles and Bell bicycle helmets. Quantities and sizes are somewhat limited; but, we know how to teach sharing!
Participants may use there own equipment, clipless pedals, and clincher tires. Tires can only be clinchers. No tubular tires.
Can I ride with my friends?
As part of the registration process you and your friends have the choice of selecting a preferred practice day. This will not guarantee that you and your friends will be on the same team but the DCV will make every effort to place friends on the same team. If the reason for trying to be on the same is for logistics please mention this to your coach.
Who are the coaches?
Head coaches for the 2012 BRL will be announced with team assignments.
Note: The Course Descriptions and Bicycle Racing League have been replicated from programs offered at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, PA, which is one of the best run velodromes in North America.