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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

USA Cycling Level 2 Course Review

(NOTE: What follows is a summary of Katherine's experience at the course earlier this year.  The USA Cycling curriculum is organized into three levels, with Level 3 being the introductory and Level 1 being the highest.)   

*Track – Riding on the track at the Home Depot Center was undoubtedly the best part of the course.  Fortunate to have two former track cycling Olympians from Canada to help the class with some advanced handling skills.

*Brief survey of exercise physiology, with an emphasis on BRIEF.  Physiologists spend their entire careers studying this area, so it would be silly to think you could cover the entire subject in a weekend.  There’s only so much you can do, and with attendees at Level 2 courses ranging from relative novices up through physiology professors and doctors, sometimes the only choice is to “shoot for the middle,” which is basically what they did here.  Its not an easy call to make though…aim to high and you completely lose 90pct of your audience.  Aim too low and you waste people’s time.

*Mostly triathlon coaches in attendance.  Not a good thing or a bad thing.  USA Triathlon offers substantial CEUs for certifications from related federations (American Swim Coaches, USA Cycling, USA Track and Field).  But also coaching business is bigger business in tri.  There are several possible reasons why the coaching cultures differ between cycling and triathlon, which could easily fill an entire post just on that topic.  However, it is a good thing to see tri coaches reaching out to the cycling community, no matter the reasons.

*Moreso than USA triathlon, USA Cycling encourages more “outsourcing”.  Manual discusses importance of seeking out strength and conditioning experts, and even makes direct mention of NSCA and ACSM certifications (USA Triathlon tends to empower coaches to be the expert in everything).  This wasn’t a major point of emphasis during the live portion of the course though. 

*Good to see a practical component, unlike many death-by-powerpoint course experiences.  We did spend several hours on the bike.

*Interestingly, minimal emphasis on power training despite its inflated importance in the marketplace.  That does not discount that power can be a useful tool, but as the curriculum recognizes, measurement comes after a sound conceptual base, not before. 

*Because the barriers to entry are minimal, you can have everyone from a newbie coach with minimal experience to the longtime professional merely checking the box on his way to Level 1.  This situation has both positives and negatives, but is definitely something worth noting.    

*This course is still finding a true identity, particularly as USA Cycling itself finds its own way in the aftermath of huge doping scandals.  You can see they are trying to learn from their neighbors at USA triathlon in using the coaching curriculum not only to coach but also as ambassadors for the sport.  Also, despite cycling’s history of a masculine culture, the federation is reach out to the female demographic.  Part of this is merely good business, but it is good to see the effort being made.