June 2021 Coach Bulletin

July is quickly approaching, and we hope that you are as excited as we are to see the next Arkansas NICA season begin. Our spring coach training events were a huge success, and we see many teams organizing meetings, outreach or Try-It-Out rides, and other pre-season events. Our student-athletes have increasing anticipation that this will be our best year yet.

Coaches have grown accustomed to doing Bike Safety Checks to ensure bikes are ready to roll. As we approach the start of regular season, we ask that coaches also do a PitZone check. Have you completed all the training opportunities to participate at practice? Let us reduce the burden on head coaches by monitoring our individual progress in NICA Pit Zone and Litmos.

Coaches must be high school graduates and 18 years old or older. Although veteran student-athletes may take on a leadership role and lead some team activities, they are always working under the close guidance of their coaches. Student-athlete leaders are never working alone with their peers.

As there are three coach licensing levels, let us review the intent of each level to ensure you have completely the appropriate training.

Level 1 (General Volunteer):

All adults that wish to participate at practice and work with student-athletes shall be Level 1 or higher. Duties of a level 1 coach may involve assisting higher level coaches in practice activities such as meeting, gameplay, skills instruction, and group rides. Level 1 coaches are always working alongside higher level coaches. 

Some common hurdles to achieving level 1 licensure are concussion training, athlete-abuse awareness training, or the background check. 

A common question is, “How much time is invested to become a level 1 coach?” The required training takes approximately 4 hours on a computer or handheld device.

Level 2 (Ride Leader or Assistant Coach):

Level 2 coaches are those that may work alone with groups of student-athletes or with other coaches. This may involve leading team activities or trail rides. 

Some common hurdles to achieving level 1 licensure are 20 hours of field work, basic first aid & CPR, or On-The-Bike skills 101. These may take additional time or require a scheduled training session.

Coaches often ask how to get field hours. Field hours are hours spent with student-athletes at all team activities involving other licensed coaches.

Level 3 (Head Coach, Team Director, or Assistant Coach):

Those coaches that have completed all training opportunities are level three coaches. Each team shall have at least one level 3 coach although a team can have many. The duties and roles of a level 3 coach may vary wildly from team to team but are always guided by the team’s head coach.

Some common hurdles to achieving level 1 licensure are Leaders’ Summit and NICA First Aid. These events are offered only seasonally and create an additional time commitment.

A common question is, “What is the difference between the Head Coach and Team Director? “The head coach may be involved in day-to-day activities at practice while the team director may manage other administrative tasks. These two individuals often work side by side to manage roles of other coaches and delegate responsibilities to team coaches and parents. 

Advancing your Levels:

The illustration below offers all of the NICA training opportunities for coaches. Coaches can immediately seek the highest level they wish. For instance, once you are a level 1 coach, there is no need to delay if wanting to get to a higher level. 

Coaches are encouraged to seek the highest level of training possible to best serve our student-athletes and communities. Studies show that trained coaches find a higher level of value and personal growth from their coaching experience . Additionally, student-athletes stay with their sport longer when coaches are professionally trained. Coaches are the backbone of Arkansas-NICA and we appreciate all you do for our communities.

All questions about coach licensing should go to Ben Tufford, our Arkansas NICA Coaching Director; email him at


Next Coaches Call, July 7 at 8pm CST

The next coaches call is scheduled for 8pm on Wednesday July 7th. All coaches are invited to join this Zoom call as we all prepare for the next season. We will have more information for you about our Adventure Event August 7-8. Please let us know if there are any other topics you would like to discuss.

Upcoming Classes

June 26 OTB 101, Clarksville
July 2 OTB 201, Bella Vista
July 10 OTB 101, Pea Ridge
July 11 NICA Approved 8 Hour First Aid, Little Rock
August 15 NICA Approved 8 Hour First Aid, Springdale

Find out detailed information and enroll in classes on our Eventbrite Page.

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