Traditionally, the winter/early spring months are an optimal time to get your team or club together to participate in an organized team training camp. Motivation is high and riders are eager to begin their seasonal individual and team preparation.
Here are some tips and suggestions to help organize the best possible camp or clinic that will benefit all members going into the cycling season.
Do it Yourself or Hire a Professional?
One of the first decisions a group has to make is whether they will organize the camp themselves or hire a professional coach or training company (like AthletiCamps) to organize the camp for them. As with the old Greyhound bus tag line, "Leave the driving up to us," clearly, hiring an outside service with experience in organizing a productive camp can be beneficial.
It can take away any pressure from the team themselves and allow the whole team to focus and enjoy the camp. Also, having an independent and objective view of your team in this type of environment can lead to improvement. Sometimes the team itself can't see the forest thru the trees and having an experienced point of view can help offer suggestions that may allow the team to perform better as a group.
Remember, the camp is not just about riding; it's about teaching the team to perform at their best during the season.
Define a Purpose
Have a reason for the camp and make sure everyone is on the same page. Identify areas that the team needs work on, like lead-outs at the end of criteriums. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that every rider has input as to what they want accomplished.
Take suggestions from the riders as to what their top priorities are for "their" camp. They can range from the obvious (just riding), to tactical discussions and team goals for the upcoming season.
Begin planning well ahead of time. One of the first steps should be sending out an email to all members and ask what they would like to accomplish during camp. This process will allow the team to be most productive in their limited amount of time together.
Bring in a Variety of Different Sources of Information
In line with defining a camp purpose, there can be many topics to cover at camp. For example, at our camps we offer performance testing of each athlete, and bring in coaches that can offer different points of view on training, nutritionists, doctors with a focus on exercise performance and sports psychologists.
By presenting a variety of topics, riders can learn that there is much more to athletic success than simply riding their bikes. By bringing in other coaches and experts, it can teach them that there are alternate methods to training. A lot of times, riders get "stuck" in one type of training approach, when, in fact, there are many different methods of training.
Organize Riders Into Training Groups That Reflect Fitness Level
If you have a large club or team, it might be best to split the camp in different groups or even consider separate camps. For example, if the club has Elite 1's and 2's as well as Masters of varying age groups, separate the ones that race together during the season into their own subgroup.