In a bid to create a more progressive syllabus, and in turn generate further opportunities for young riders to develop their skills with us, we’re proud to announce our new Kids Academy format for 2022 and beyond. With a significant increase in regular riders attending Academy over the last few years, it’s only right we as coaches continue to develop our syllabus to give these youngsters the highest level of skills development possible, and more importantly, keep them motivated to have fun on their bikes.
We’ve been coaching young riders since we set up back in 2007 and running organised kids courses for over a decade now, but Dirt School Academy was properly introduced in 2018 in order to develop a clear progressive syllabus for our younger riders, just like we do with our adult courses. This formalised route of progression was devised to give the enthusiastic mountain biking kids some clear stepping stones so they can continually improve themselves as riders as they grow in confidence.
Now, with the increase in riding standard across the board coupled with the volume of young riders attending on a regular basis, our new syllabus bridges the gaps between courses, allowing our riders to develop their technical riding more gradually and keep what we’re teaching them fresh. For 2022, Dirt School Academy will have four different levels to create an improved offering for different age groups and skill levels.
First up, it’s Little Rippers - the course everyone knows and loves, and the one that kicked off kids sessions for us all those years ago! The Little Rippers - aimed at those aged roughly between 7 and 10 - is about creating a fun and engaging environment for kids to develop their love for mountain biking, as well as teaching them how to ride safely and with control as they build up their confidence on the bike. We often have the same faces come back each school holiday and it’s great to see them reunite with friends made on previous Academy sessions and continue to grow as riders. At Little Rippers, we mostly base ourselves on the blue trails, skills park and jumps but do occasionally venture onto red trails when ability allows with some of our regulars.
The next step is Youth Academy - aimed at intermediate to advanced riders aged roughly between 10 and 14 - where we look at technique in more detail and focus on scalable riding through developing their control mechanisms. Youth Academy sessions are lighthearted, but also start to look at some of the more complicated fundamentals of modern riding. There’s so much to learn at this level so our coaches always mix up the focus from course to course, and each Youth Academy is always slightly different to the last, meaning regular riders always have something new to learn as they work their way up towards Advanced Academy. At Youth Academy we base ourselves on red and black trails as well as jumps and a little natural riding.
Advanced Academy - aimed at advanced to expert riders aged roughly between 12 and 16 - is where it gets a bit more serious, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun! Once riders have been to our Youth Academy a few times before, our coaches might let them know they’re ready to move up. Advanced Academy is the place for young riders who live and breathe mountain biking - they’ll already be riding enduro trails, possibly have an interest in downhill or enduro racing and are clearing decent sized jumps with ease. Here, we run sessions on increasingly complicated terrain as the week goes on, and as such it’s a course for very experienced young riders who’ve been coached by us before. Advanced Academy takes place at Glentress, using the jumps and great selection of enduro trails on offer.
Finally we have our all new BASE Academy - inspired by our BASE College course, this one is by graduation through Advanced Academy or application process only as we venture on to the most challenging and remote terrain the Tweed Valley has to offer. BASE Academy is designed to prepare expert to elite level youngsters aged between 13 and 16 for our performance mountain biking course run in partnership with Borders College. It’s aimed at riders who’d like to develop their race results at a national or international level, provide an insight into being at college with Dirt School, or simply progress their technical riding to an elite level. Here, our most experienced coaches borrow a lot of the same techniques, sessions and locations from our BASE college course, making BASE Academy the only kids course at this level currently available in the UK.
All Academy courses are designed to be attended time and time again; our coaching team always makes an effort to mix up their sessions, presenting new challenges for our young riders whilst they continue to work on their skills and apply feedback at their respective levels.
“Seeing riders progress has always been at the heart of everything we do and to be able to deliver our content to the next generation, without diluting or simplifying any of the techniques, is very important to us. We believe that kids today are learning how to ride in a completely different way than in the past. They are capable, confident and respond well to being challenged. We want to ensure that the future of our sport is going in the right direction.”
Andy Barlow, Director & Head Coach
Click here to find out more about each course and get your young rider booked in for Spring, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like some advice on which course is best for your child. We very much look forward to welcoming all our young riders, old and new to Dirt School Academy again in Easter!