Anyone can start a team – parents, teachers, cycling enthusiasts. No experience is necessary; we provide the training and education needed. The ACA has years of experience helping coaches start and develop teams. Plus, we will connect you with a coach mentor who can support you every step of the way. Visit our Coach Toolbox for additional resources.
Step 1 – Contact an ACA Representative
No team available in your area? Contact us! Starting a team is incredibly rewarding and we want to make it as straightforward as possible.
Step 2 – Get Your Coach License
Start the licensing process. The ACA requires that all adults riding with an interscholastic mountain bike team be certified and covered under the ACA’s insurance plan. This certification ensures that our student-athletes will be safe and have qualified adults present during team rides and races. Once you are a licensed coach, you will be fully insured.
Step 3 – Organize Your Team
Team organization varies from team to team and will evolve over time. However, all teams start with the basics. Here’s what you need to know:
UNDERSTAND TEAM STRUCTURES
School-Based Teams: A team comprised of full-time students from the same school. Can be an “official” team that is recognized as an official club by the school or unofficial.
Composite Teams: A team comprised of full-time students from more than one school within the same district or other geographic proximity.
A student who is enrolled in an online charter school or homeschooled and who is domiciled within the attendance zone of a school-based team may compete on that team. If no team exists, then they may compete on a local composite team subject to the standard composite team rules.
Start thinking about your leadership team. You can’t do this alone, it takes a village. You will have plenty of time along the way to develop a management team, but it’s good to have help from the beginning. Do you have any friends or contacts interested in helping you start and manage a team? Everyone has skills and areas of expertise to contribute to your team. The most successful teams have a strong group of adult leaders and they divide team tasks and conquer. Keep in mind, you don’t have to be an expert mountain biker to be a positive role model and contribute to the team.
RESOURCES OFFERED BY THE ACA
Scholarships: Financial assistance is available for student-athletes in need to help cover participation costs .
Loaner Bikes: The ACA has an inventory of loaner bikes available to first-time riders or student-athletes without bikes.
Step 4 – Build a Relationship with Your School
Forming a relationship with school administrators is a critical part of a team’s formation. Without their support you won’t be able to use the school’s name, recruit riders or become an “official” team, therefore we encourage you to keep the administrators informed and involved. Try to find a teacher or administrator who is willing to be a club sponsor.
MEET WITH THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
Present any information you have prepared from Steps 1 and 2, plus a list of interested riders. Share information about the ACA, including the Abuse Prevention Program and Insurance Overview and FAQs,
UNDERSTAND “OFFICIAL CLUB STATUS”
The State of Arizona has strict rules regarding “official” clubs. The ACA does not require that teams be official school clubs. If you are interested in becoming an official club, please work with the school administration to do so.
STAY INVOLVED WITH THE SCHOOL
We suggest sending the administration an end-of-season card thanking them for their support. Include a photo of the team, rider accomplishments, and perhaps a few inspirational stories.
Step 5 – Recruit Riders and Parents
GET THE WORD OUT
- Distribute team flyers.
- Create an online presence; student-athletes tend to favor Instagram, adults lean toward Facebook (see example here), a team website is a great place to host general information (see example here).
- Put an ad in the school paper or on the community board.
- Remember to talk with the middle school students (grades 6-8).
- Meet with local bike shops for assistance recruiting riders and coaches.
Once you have a roster of riders, host a parent meeting before the start of the season. This will help get everyone on the same page and help you recruit parent volunteer and ride leader help.
HOST A TEAM MEETING
- Local bike shops or libraries are great places for these meetings. Most shops will allow you to host a meeting after the shop closes.
- Introduce the team and coaches.
- Create a contact list and introduce the ACA registration system.
- Recruit parent volunteers.
- See Coach Toolbox for example team rules, schedule, team sign up form, parent volunteer tasks, etc.
Step 6 – Start the Season!
Once you have your riders and support from parents, you are now ready to start the season.
REGISTER YOUR TEAM, COACHES & STUDENT-ATHLETES
Team and coach registration opens March 1; student-athlete registration starts April 1. The head coach or team director registers the team and invites riders and coaches to register in the ACA registration system.
- MAKE SURE ALL STUDENT-ATHLETES ARE FULY REGISTERED BEFORE ALLOWING THEM TO PRACTICE.
- Teams are allowed to practice up to 4 days per week. Most teams hold practices 2 to 3 days a week. It is up to the coach to decide what will serve his/her team the best.
- Pick a location with beginner-friendly trails. Remember, you may have lots of novice riders.
- Check riders bikes before practice (ask local bicycle mechanic to attend first practice to assist with bike checks).
- Focus on mountain bike skills and drills before riding trails.
GET READY TO RACE
- Make sure your riders have registered for races one week before first race.
- Go over pre-race checklist with riders.
- Distribute race flier for race.
- Plan weekend timeline with riders and parents.
HOLD PRE- AND POST- RACE CHECK-INS
These short meetings with your riders will help you understand how you can help them during and after the races.