Busy CXC Para Program


It’s easy to pigeonhole the typical “can’t believe summer is over already” narrative. That being said, it was surprising how fast and jam packed my first full summer at CXC was. With numerous events and mini-road trips, the CXC Para Program was busy!

Through July and August Duncan and I traveled to two major events for veterans, RIC’s Military Sports Camp and the Valor Games which was held at Soldier Field in Chicago. These are great events giving nearly 100 disabled Veterans the chance to participate in adaptive athletics. We are always excited to attend these events and recruit potential CXC Para Team athletes.


Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.46.56 PMWith winter just around the corner, the CXC Para Team athletes are preparing for the season with a series of camps through CXC and the US Para Team. Steve Baskis and others are meeting in Lake Placid this week for some intense dryland training and then flying to Sweden shortly after to get in some early season skiing in at one of Europe’s famous ski tunnels.

I have to admit, I may be a bit jealous. That being said, I know what kind of work our athlete’s have been putting in and am excited for their potential in the upcoming season.

- Andrew Poffenberger, CXC Para Nordic Coach

2014 CXC/Wayne Fish Coaches Certification and Conference

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October 17-19, 2014
Lakewoods Resort, Cable WI

This year’s CXC Coaches Conference will again be focused on CXC/USSA Level 100 Coaches Certification, introduce CXC/USSA Level 200 Coaches Certification and specific hands-on session for Adaptive coaching. Coaches will be able to complete full certification during the weekend and receive certification license and a patch.



Lakewoods Resort will be offering lodging for attendees:

  • Double:  $90.00 per bedroom in condos or cottages
  • Single:  $65.00 per bedroom in condos or cottages

* 715-794-2561 / LakewoodsResort.com

35 Secrets of Brilliant Coaches

by Anne Josephson, The Huffington Post

“He’s ‘just’ a coach. She’s ‘just’ a teacher.” – These are two sentences that make my blood pressure spike to the point that I get a little dizzy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 10.51.26 AMManaging approximately 70 gymnastics professionals, all of whom are teacher-coaches, I am acutely aware of the amount of training and education that these dedicated pros undergo to instruct their young athletes. The technical knowledge of the skills in combination with understanding the progressions necessary to achieve the elements safely and the rules and regulations that govern the various competitive levels fills volumes of books, hundreds of DVDs and dozens of trainings and conferences.

But that is only part of the picture.

While superior knowledge of the sport is a cornerstone of a brilliant coach, it takes so much more than content and procedural knowledge to be a brilliant coach or teacher. Simply because a person has great knowledge of the sport and a fabulous win-loss record, does not mean they are a brilliant coach.

Brilliant coaches…

1. Cherish the child over the athlete. Brilliant coaches know that being an athlete is just a small part of being a child. Brilliant coaches never do anything to advance the athlete at the risk of the child.

2. Treat their, and all other, athletes with respect. Brilliant coaches treat all of the kids in the gym, on the field, court etc. with total respect. No matter what.

3. Communicate with parents. Brilliant coaches understand that parents are not the enemy and, in fact, are an important ally in the development of the athlete.

4. Listen to their athletes concerns. Brilliant coaches don’t tune out athletes worries, fears or mentions of injury.

5. Connect before they direct. Brilliant coaches understand the importance of emotional connection. You matter. You belong. You are important to me. Not you the athlete; rather, you the person. Our most fundamental need is safety. When we feel safe we can trust and when we trust we can learn. Brilliant coaches know that this foundation of trust is essential.

6. Begin with the end in mind. Brilliant coaches keep their focus on the big picture of the goal of the athlete. They have a plan, but are flexible as they are aware the road to success is filled with twists and turns.

7. Are obsessive about fundamentals. Brilliant coaches understand the value of fundamentals as the core of all skills. The stronger the core, the more successful the athlete. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden would spend his first practice with his players instructing them how to put on socks. Correct wearing of socks prevents blisters, and feet absent of blisters can attend basketball practice.

8. Break skills into chunks. Brilliant coaches don’t simply teach a cartwheel. They break that cartwheel into several key sub-skills and instruct on those skills first before putting them together to perform the cartwheel. Brilliant coaches know that by isolating the individual elements that are woven together to achieve the skill athletes will succeed faster.

9. Embrace athletes’ struggle. Brilliant coaches understand that learning is a curve. Like muscle needs to break down before building up, athletes need to struggle to push forward. A brilliant coach doesn’t panic when this struggle happens.

10. Make the boring interesting. Brilliant coaches connect the tedious to the goal and make games out of those things that can be counted. They issue challenges and create missions. The goal is to make these dull, but necessary moments more engaging.

11. State corrections in the positive. Brilliant coaches say “do this” not “don’t’ do this.” Don’t bend your arms is less effective feedback than “push your arms straight.”

12. Find the bright spots and build from there. Brilliant coaches are aware of weaknesses and try to improve them to meet minimal standard but spend much more focus on the areas that an athlete excels. Trying to turn a strong pitcher into a better batter is less effective than trying to make him better at his curve ball.

13. Don’t try to break bad habits; rather, they build new habits. Brilliant coaches know that the most effective way to break a bad feedback loop is to replace one habit for another.

14. Give feedback in short, clear spurts that are precise and action oriented. No long speeches. John Wooden was once followed for a whole season so his motivational techniques could be studied. Wooden’s average “speech” was four sentences. Furthermore, brilliant coaches do not engage in observational coaching. (“Get your arms up.” Up where? “Your knees are bent.” Tell me how to fix that.) Concrete feedback (“Your arms need to be right behind your ears.” And “Squeeze this muscle and this muscle in your leg to make it straight.”) is given instead.

15. Are careful about how they measure success. Brilliant coaches do not use scores or win-loss records as their sole measure of success. Brilliant coaches understand that doing so can erode the long term development of the athlete. Brilliant coaches instead develop competencies for the long run, even if that means sacrificing success at the beginning of journey. If you had to choose, would you rather have your child be the strongest student in the first grade or in the twelfth grade?

16. Use the right mixture of attainable and reach goals. Brilliant coaches have zoned in on the sweet spot of challenge.

17. Keep momentum moving forward. Brilliant coaches understand that objects in motion stay in motion, so there is not a lot of waiting around time in practice.

18. Constantly are seeking continuing education. Brilliant coaches never believe they know it all or that they cannot improve themselves. Quite the opposite. Brilliant coaches read journals, articles, books and scour the internet for training ideas. They attend professional workshops and seek mentorships from other coaches.

19. Create, instead of finding, talent. Brilliant coaches appreciate natural aptitude but know that it can only take an athlete so far. Furthermore, brilliant coaches are humble enough to admit that they are not perfect at predicting success, so they just get in there and work. Finally, brilliant coaches concede that extraordinary talent is not a fair assessment of their value as a coach; rather, they measure their coaching efficacy by taking an athlete who is less gifted and helping that athlete succeed.

20. Observe intently. Brilliant coaches are always trying to figure out what makes people tick so they can better reach them.

21. Understand interpersonal relationships of the team are important. Team building and bonding is not a waste of time but an essential element for success.

22. Use imagery in coaching. Brilliant coaches paint pictures in the athletes’ minds. “Jump as high as you can,” becomes “Push the floor away from you like a rocket blasting into space and reach that rocket to the stars.”

23. Separate learning from practice. Brilliant coaches understand that practice begins after the athletes learn. As a result, they do not have athlete “practicing” something they have not yet learned so as to avoid creating bad habits. Learning takes place with close observation and direct instruction.

24. Focus the athlete on what to do, not what to avoid. Brilliant coaches tell their athletes things like “Shoulders squared and body tight” versus saying “Don’t fall.”

25. Focus on the multiple ways of learning. Brilliant coaches use auditory, visual and kinesthetic modes of teaching each skill, acknowledging that people learn differently.

26. Understand child development. Brilliant coaches have a working knowledge of the milestones of childhood and tailor their actions and expectations to meet the athletes where they are.

27. End practice before athlete is exhausted. Brilliant coaches know that bad habits and short cuts ensue when athletes are drained.

28. Give plenty of time for new skills to develop. Brilliant coaches allow at least eight weeks for athletes to learn a new skill. As the athlete progresses in the sport that time frame will actually get longer, not shorter, as the skills are increasingly complex.

29. Use positive coaching techniques. Brilliant coaches do not yell, belittle, threaten or intimidate. They do not need to bully to get results. While short term success my occur under such pressure filled environments, a brilliant coach knows that in the long run these techniques will backfire and are dangerous to the development of the child.

30. Have a growth mindset. Brilliant coaches believe that our basic skills can be developed through dedication and hard work. They reinforce this with their athletes over and over so their athletes feel motivated and are productive.

31. Know what they don’t know. Brilliant coaches are not afraid to admit that they don’t have all the answers. They do not allow their ego to prevent them from getting additional help, training or even suggesting to an athlete’s family that the athlete needs to move to a more experienced coach.

32. Educate their athletes. Brilliant coaches go beyond instructing their athletes, instead educating them in a age-appropriate ways regarding the purpose of and objective of various drills, skill sequences and conditioning circuits.

33. Have clear rules and logical consequences. Brilliant coaches do not keep their athletes guessing with respect to the standards of conduct or the result that can be expected for breeches of those standards. Rules are applied justly without shame to all athletes, including the stars.

34. Understand that fun is an essential element in training, no matter how elite an athlete becomes. The number one reason that athletes quit sports, even sports that they love and in which they are succeeding, is because they are no longer having fun. Fun is not a frivilous sentiment but is the foundation of an athletes’ healthy commitment to a sport.

35. End practice on a positive note. Brilliant coaches always find a way to seek the positive at the end of even the most awful workout. Even if it is as simple as “Tomorrow is a new day,” brilliant coaches know that both success and failure are temporary states.

It is clear that content knowledge is just the beginning of what makes a brilliant coach (or teacher). Yet, absent these other qualities, all of the knowledge in the world does not make a smart or effective coach brilliant.

What do you think? What are other characteristics of brilliant coaching?

If you found this post to be helpful, please consider tweeting, emailing, sharing on other social media or forwarding it to the brilliant coaches and teachers in your children’s lives. It will mean the world to them.


Anne Josephson is President and CEO of JAG Gym in Los Angeles. Among the largest gymnastics schools in the country, over 2,000 kids attend JAG weekly. JAG’s mission is simple: We do good things for kids.

Anne holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and a M.S. Ed. in Educational Psychology from USC, where her focus was on how children and adolescents learn best. She is the parent of four daughters ages 16 to 20.


That’s a Wrap: Summer Junior Camps

Another summer full of ski camps has again come and gone. Reflecting back at them, has made me realize just how far the central region has come in providing training opportunities for young athletes. Not too long ago there were hardly any options for young skiers to go to a summer skiing camp. Now we have groups of 50+ athletes being able to come together and train is awesome to see. It’s not just the older athletes that are being exposed to these opportunities. This summer we consistently had large groups of skiers under the age of 16 years of age. Since the camps have been such a hit, we have maxed out most of our camp locations, but I would say that is a good problem to have to figure out what to do with in the coming years.

June and July Camp Photos | August Camp Photos

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As far as the CXC Junior Program, I have been happy with the groups focus and attitude to training hard over the summer. Everyone has seen improvements in technique, fitness and strength over the past 3 months and we look forward to building on the base we have created over the summer. A big focus for most of them will be to maintain and improve the gains they have made through the fall sports that they participate in. That means getting into the weight room on occasion and not letting the dust collect on their roller skis. Our camps will continue throughout the fall with weekend camps in September and October, a full week long camp on snow (hopefully!) in November, and a post-Christmas camp in December.

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- Andy Keller, CXC Development Coach


Volunteer Program for IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships Launched

Preparations for the largest gathering of international athletes since Sochi 2014 continue with the launch of the volunteer program for Cable 2015, including a video aimed at attracting recruits.

Organizers of the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships taking place in Cable, Wisconsin, USA, from January 22- February 1, launched their volunteer program on Thursday August 21st aimed at recruiting the multitude of helpers needed to host such a prestigious international event.

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Photo Credits: James Netz Photography

Cable 2015 is expected to gather around 150 athletes from 20 countries less than one year after the most successful Paralympic Winter Games ever took place in Sochi, Russia.

The volunteer program allows individuals and groups to participate in the World Championships by helping to fill key roles and provides them with a behind the scenes glimpse into a major international competition. Depending on the length of service, volunteers can receive meals and accommodation along with complimentary merchandise.

The IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships will need between 350-400 volunteers over the 12 days of the event. Volunteer opportunities include helping with the start and finish line areas, course patrol, biathlon range, press services, security and crowd control, stadium set-up, race administration, medical and much more. Opportunities include both inside and outside spaces.

To sign up as a volunteer for Cable 2015 go to: www.Cable2015.com/volunteering

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A video launched to support the recruitment drive features several key volunteers already committed to Cable 2015 discussing their experiences from two previous World Cup events and their anticipation for the upcoming Championships.

The volunteer trailer can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abwhYQmoEr8.

Jane Mandli, one of the volunteer coordinators for Cable 2015, says she is excited to see the event come together.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of bringing such a prominent competition to Northern Wisconsin. The quality and character of our volunteers at the World Cup events stood out in the minds of everyone who was here for those and that is part of why the World Championships are coming.”

Mandli is also thrilled with the level of experience from some of the volunteers that have already signed up.

“With such a large event we really need, and will use, everyone who signs up for Cable 2015 but it is truly amazing to see the large number of volunteers already registering. I am very impressed with the vast experience that many of the volunteers have as well. This is going to be an amazing event!”

Cable 2015 will feature the largest and strongest contingency of US athletes at a Nordic Skiing World Championships. Many of the men in Team USA are veterans representing all branches of the military. The American women, led by Oksana Masters and Tatyana McFadden, are becoming a force to be reckoned with after winning multiple medals in Sochi.

More information can be found at www.Cable2015.com or contact James Bolen, Chief of Event Support at: jb@2015ipcnordicwch.us or 715.798.3977.

“This is going to be EPIC!!”

CXC Continues To Partner With Rossignol

CXC is proud to announce the continuation of it’s important sponsorship with Rossignol, thru Group Rossignol North America for another season. “We are thrilled to have the support for our athletes with Rossignol, a worldwide leader in the cross-country ski sport. Their support means more of our athlete’s get exposure to World Cup quality gear, that helps them ski better and faster.”

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CXC Team Rossignol Nordic Racing Van


Rossignol, which turned 100 years old in 2007, is a company that supports the mountain lifestyle mission with passionate commitment coupled with a professional and authentic mountain branding.

“Partnering with CXC was a very easy decision for Rossignol,” said Ryan Green, Nordic Division Manager for Rossignol North America, saying… CXC is a steward of the sport and continually works to create opportunities for people to discover develop and excel within the sport. This is true whether it is an elementary school student trying skiing for the first time with the youth program, a club utilizing the training center or a new high school coach attending the Level 100 certification. These efforts are increasing accessibility and participation in skiing along with improving the experience of all skiers.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 10.15.00 AMGreen went on to praise the CXC Team calling it an important part of their racing program. “We work with CXC on every aspect of equipment selection with the athletes and ensure we have open communication throughout the process. We start with product education and selection in the summer, validate with on snow testing in the early winter and continue to test throughout the winter. Working with Bill, Andrew and the athletes has been a very rewarding experience and is a part of our continuing education. All of us feel confident that when we work together and learn from each other we have the right skis in the bag and, more importantly, the athletes know which skis to use based on conditions and terrain. This allows us to be more efficient leading up to the race start.”

CXC Head Coach Bill Pierce feels strongly about the Rossignol brand.

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Bill Pierce

I have worked with quite a few different ski companies and reps over the years. Most companies have good product and can get you skis that can run well. Then last year with Rossignol has been that and way more. There are a few reasons that I add the “More” to the last statement, but I will only mention two. The service that we have received as a racing team is unlike anything I have had or experienced before.

Paul Clark is the best race services director and tech in North America in my opinion. He fulfilled all our expectations and much more. We not only received extremely high quality race product, but we got it early, tested it, and received better if we were not satisfied. He helped us pick, test, and retest until we ended up with the best ski fleets possible. Second, after one year on the product, I feel it is the best quality in the business. Bottom line, the skis are light, responsive, and FAST! The boots are light, give great ski feel, and still they are really warm! Just what an athlete is looking for.”

By: Peter Graves, CXC Public Relations

Performance Testing in Nordic Skiing Webinar

Thursday, August 14 | 5pm CST


Matt Whitcomb, Women’s XC Coach, U.S. Ski Team

In addition to answering questions from coaches, Matt will share his personal testing philosophy, as well as some specific workouts he uses or noticed other programs using that are effective benchmarks.

If you have questions for Matt, please e-mail them to us or post on the webinar page.