Coaching Junior MTBers

Hi, can anyone point me towards the best resources to read / listen to for coaching younger riders? (trainerroad or not). I am coaching middle school and high school riders, and for the most part where just having fun and working on skills, not worried about that, some will be racing, but not “training”. One rider is particularly fast, and motivated. I’ll be helping him a bit more individually, and feel like I’ll mostly be directing him to recover, and lessen the intensity more than I’ll be telling him to do more, teaching him about periodization, etc, basically teaching him about all the things I’ve learned racing the past 10 years (including running close to the edge of overtraining).

That said, any specific episodes anyone remembers with more specifics to younger riders?

I’m guessing you are coaching a NICA team or something similar. For my teams, I structure a periodized season - slow endurance and skill buildup early on with increased opportunities for intensity as we get closer to the race season. We focus on general fitness but group our riders according to skill/fitness capabilities.

As far as coaching individual riders, my experience has been that structured training away from the team atmosphere is something that very few kids can handle. A number of my athletes have trainers and I help them outside the NICA season in an unofficial capacity. They can follow structure in very small doses. What we try to do is get a few key races identified for the athlete and increase volume primarily followed by some race specific training. But the structured stuff is limited to one or two sessions a week.

As far as your original question goes, I don’t know that there is a go-to resource(s) for this stuff. Kids are not little adults. I am concerned less about the physiological stress of structured training for these athletes. It’s really about keeping their mental and emotional attitude toward the bike positive and helping them adapt when they get their teeth kicked in during a race or a tough summer workout. Managing mom and dad is important as well.


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Awesome, pretty much exactly what I was thinking, but good to hear it.

I’m in the northeast, so the racing program is a lot newer here and not as built up as it seems to be around NICA yet.

Also, this is great, thanks for the link.

I train youth for Cyclocross and MTB, 2x a week. And i do try to have structure during the training alternating between a course they ride for 8 / 10 / 12 minutes at their own pace for some intensity. And as “rest” we do technical drills. The most important thing, in my experience, is keeping it fun. Structured training is reserved for only some and even then it can take the fun out of it making them more likely to leave the sport. It is more important to get them “hooked” on the sport for life then to think about a future as a pro.

For technical fun drills we do:
Play tag on the bike in a square
Snail race
picking up bidons (in a contest form against another)
Shoulder push drills

And if you try to teach them anything, not doing too much is probably the most important thing. Making them understand easy rides should be easy and hard rides should be hard.

As for resources, in the Netherlands the governing body for racing is the KNWU, that is a good resource for me. Likely the USAC has something similar?