Coaching Certification: You Can Do It!

March 4, 2014 by · Comments Off 

William Parker Teaching a Clinic
By Heather Parker

Last summer, William was invited by John Beck, the track operator at Circle City BMX in Dothan, AL, to teach a clinic. The clinic was scheduled for a local race day, and was free with race registration. Cleverly named the “Beginner Spinner” clinic, William had ten eager pupils, some of whom were very new to the sport.

William was a bit shy at first, his voice a little soft, his movements lacking theatrics. Just as I began to worry, I could hear him at the gate. “Roll your wrists forward. That’s it. Stand up a little taller. Good.” He knew exactly what he was doing, and the kids responded and loved it. By the end of the clinic, William was confident, and looking forward to the next one. It was a win-win for everyone.

We noticed something that day. The kids were not intimidated by William, their peer. They weren’t afraid to ask questions, and they all really worked hard!

William Parker Intermediate Clinic
A few weeks later, William hosted a more advanced clinic for intermediates only, and introduced this group to manualing and jumping. It was another hit. (Pictured: William with his advanced clinic participants.)

As word spread, William received requests from other tracks in the area, and we were eager to start scheduling.

Unfortunately, a USA BMX rule change threw a monkey wrench into our plans:

“Any person teaching a clinic at a track as of Jan 1, 2014, must be a USA BMX Certified Coach.”

What!? William, not wanting to give up his clinics, quickly decided that he would become a coach. After carefully reading through the requirements and seeing no indication of an age restriction, John Beck came through for us, and recommended William for the program.

After consulting with USA BMX Head Coach Justin Travis, we learned the omission of an age restriction was an oversight, and William was eligible to be an “assistant coach” only. And what qualifies someone to be an assistant coach? He merely has to be an experienced rider under the age of 18. However, a certified coach still has to be present. Justin advised that I take the course.

Me? Can you see it? My only bike is the turquoise and hot pink beach cruiser my dad gave me when I was 15, and I wouldn’t dream of putting it on a BMX track! OK kids, does anyone else here know first aid because I am about to demonstrate a pull-manual…

It seemed I had no choice. I would do it on one condition: William would do everything with me regardless of the fact that he could not receive the certification. Together we took a First Aid/CPR/AED course, and William showed me up with his strength and youth. If anyone could get a ticker ticking, it’s that kid. He even went so far as to request that Circle City BMX get an AED unit in case he needs to revive someone. Let’s hope not!

WIlliam Parker Studying USA BMX Coaching Manual
After I passed my background check (phew!), we were ready to study the coaches manual and take the exam. I have to admit I was sweating bullets. I knew if I didn’t ace it that my 12 year old would out score me. No thanks! So, I nailed it. When it came time for William to take the test, he gave me an, “Aw Mom, do I have to?” That’s when I laid down the law. If he doesn’t pass the exam, I will not allow him to do clinics. He sighed and got to work (above).

All in all, I was impressed with the thoroughness of the coaching manual. The program is well outlined, and designed to retain riders by giving them a scheduled program that encourages them to show up. It states that new riders must take two intro clinics before they are allowed to race. Once the intro clinics are completed, the new rider may also attend the eight individual skills clinics. The clinics are well-scripted and easy to follow, creating a learning structure to help riders advance.

I do suggest that USA BMX revise the coaching requirements for riders under 18 who wish to teach. While I understand the safety requirement of having a responsible adult present, many experienced riders, whether they are 18 or not, are well equipped to teach and retain incoming riders.

William’s results just came in, and he passed the exam with flying colors. His experience far outweighs the little card that claims I am a certified BMX coach, so I’ll leave the teaching to him. I’ll be on hand however, to make sure things go smoothly. After all, “mom” is a much higher title than “coach.”



USA BMX Coaching Website

Podcast with USA BMX Coaching Director Justin Travis

Heather’s “Adventures of a BMX Mom” Blog

BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components