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Coaching E-Zine - Stranmillis University Goes Off-Road - By Jake McMinn & Stephen Wallace

01/09/2014
By:  Jake McMinn & Stephen Wallace
Date:  29th August 2014


Stranmillis University goes Off-Road with Gearing Up Off-Road

A Staff Perspective, participating in phase one of Stranmillis University Cycling Initiative



Stranmillis University College plays a significant role in providing qualified teachers, for schools in Northern Ireland and beyond. While it continues to maintain its long recognised position as a leading Teacher Education College, in the last decade it has also established an excellent reputation for developing a selective range of professionally related academic programmes - the BA in Early Childhood Studies and BSc in Health and Leisure Studies. These professional degree programmes complement and support core elements of the BEd programme and the PGCE in Early Years Education.
 
The Health and Physical Education department practical modules are traditionally influenced by the core content of the Northern Ireland Curriculum – Swimming, Athletics, Gymnastics, Dance and Games. Student perception of sport/activity is influenced by their childhood experiences, mainly with the “big three”, Rugby, GAA and Football.

The introduction of cycling has enriched our Practical Studies modules by introducing a new unfamiliar sport/activity which requires a skillset completely different to that which games players have experienced previously. Cycling has been a fantastic “leveler” within the student group, in that everyone began with a similar proficiency. The Gearing Up Off-Road programme which develops progression within and between sessions provides learning opportunities which not only engage the students but provide meaningful success for a range of abilities. The students were able to observe the teaching style and management of sessions with emphasis on a safe, fun, active, yet purposeful learning environment.

Many of the cohort (34 students) have not ridden a bicycle since early childhood and by the end of the course were competent and confident in completing the fundamental mountain bike skills of power assisted front wheel lift, rear wheel lift, track stand, manual front wheel lift , corner at speed, descending steep hills, basic mechanics etc.

Student feedback has been extremely positive with many indicating they look forward to developing their skills with a view to leading the activity.  Gearing Up Off-Road has been a welcome addition to our programme with the potential for cycling to be promoted, developed and enjoyed by a range of non-traditional participants.

Stranmillis University College aim to embed the Gearing Up Off-Road programme within the Practical Studies modules and further develop cycling by including road cycling through the new “Bike for Life” initiative. Stephen Wallace (Stranmillis University)



A Student Perspective, participating in phase one of Stranmillis University Cycling Initiative

Before partaking in the Gearing up project/activity, I found cycling to be a monotonous and repetitive experience that anyone could do. How wrong was I? Prior to Gearing Up Off-Road, cycling was a time to mess around, mainly seeing who could go the quickest, but receiving tuition from a qualified coach giving an insight into the activity of off road cycling skills has changed the perception of everyone in my class.

The class remains focused and is still competitive with the introduction of little competitions at the end of each session with the prospect of being crowned wheelie or downhill champion. These little competitions have spurred myself especially to try and perfect my technique in order to win, but the underpinning factor still being that I have fun and learn whilst attempting this. Through the Gearing up program each week we have learnt various new skills, which we were all able to pick up, being conveyed in a simplistic yet descriptive manner. Individually we can now go out and relay this information to pupils of any age or description. Each week has been a gradual progression from the previous, pushing our bikes and ourselves further than we thought we could. From the first week learning how to choose the correct gear depending on the ground surface and learning how to brake properly. To the body positioning for descending down steep hills, bike control at speed and through tight cornering, before progressing to performing a pedal wheelie. Each session has been well constructed, packing as much valuable teaching points and learning time as possible. 
Jake McMinn. (1st Year BSc Health& Leisure Student)

The Stranmillis University Cycling Initiative is kindly supported by Sport NI who have provided funding to support the initiative.



Find out more about the Cycling Ireland Gearing Up Off-Road programme go to the Cycling Ireland programme page on the Cycling Ireland website

Interested in becoming a Gearing Up Off-Road Instructor, find an upcoming course.
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