To ensure that you are selecting the right instructing program for your individual needs, it is helpful to fully understand the differences between the levels of coaching skill that your instructor has. As the industry has adopted the PMBIA program as the uniform certification program here in North America, it is important to know what the differences are between the levels of coaching that this program offers and teaches to it’s instructors.

The PMBIA level 1 instructor certificate is awarded to about 98% of riders
that take the course, and have demonstrated beginner to intermediate riding and teaching skills. This means that if you are a rider that is beyond the beginner level of riding you will most likely not have much room for further improvement with a level 1 instructor.

The skills that a PMBIA level 1 instructor can teach are :

  • Confident position and balance skills through the ‘Climbing”, “Neutral” and “Ready” positions, combined with a good range of movement.
  • Consistently maintains an efficient cadence and straight chain line
  • Can brake without skidding on loose terrain, using both brakes.
  • Effective trail scanning for smooth, efficient riding.
  • Climbing and descending on technical, single track terrain
  • Banked and flat corners on various terrain surfaces
  • Maintain chosen line in technical terrain with roots, rocks and uneven ground
  • Front & rear wheel lifts – standing
  • Seated front wheel lift – using a pedal stroke
  • Switchbacks – slow, tight turns
  • Basic ladder bridges and/or raised trails

If you are new to mountain biking or are still in the beginner to intermediate range, then a level 1 instructor is a good choice for your learning.

If you are at or beyond the intermediate range, then you may wish to seek a level 2 instructor.

The PMBIA level 2 program is a higher level of instructing that covers the teaching methods for the more difficult terrain that riders of an intermediate to advanced rider ability are ready to learn.

With an approximate passing rate of about 40-50%, the PMBIA level 2 course demands that instructors demonstrate, to their PMBIA course conductors, that they have proficiency in all the material that the PMBIA level 1 instructor program covers. Additionally, level 2 instructors have to display that they themselves have an advanced riding ability and skill set. They must also show they have the more advanced and refined teaching ability, that the intermediate and the advanced trail rider requires.

The skills that PMBIA level 2 instructors are qualified to teach, in addition to the level 1 material are :

  • Climbing and descending on technical, blue and black-diamond trails
  • High speed cornering in flat, off-camber & banked corners (berms)
  • Steeps, rock rolls and technical terrain with roots and rocks.
  • Manuals, wheelies, bunnyhops, short nose wheelies
  • Small to medium tabletop jumps and drop-offs up to 5ft high using a variety of techniques

Level 2 instructors must also be able to display:

  • Strong guiding and risk management skills through the safety rules, class management and terrain communication protocols
  • Strong lesson content, through a clear knowledge and technical understanding of the six riding skills.
  • Specific, technically sound and well structured explanations.
  • Uses a variety of demonstrating techniques with consistent technique.
  • Detailed analysis of student techniques and bio-mechanics
  • Delivers positive, specific, technically correct feedback.
  • Adaptability and in-depth knowledge of advanced riding, guiding and teaching skills

In summary, if your instructor is PMBIA level 1 certified, then they are a great choice for you if you are a beginner to intermediate rider. As PMBIA level 1 is not considered to be qualified, under the certification program, to properly teach students beyond beginner to intermediate skills; those riders that already have intermediate to advanced skills that want to learn to be comfortable doing jumps, drops, and improve upon their technical terrain riding abilities for “black diamond” trails, will not benefit from having an instructor with only a PMBIA level 1 certificate. The PMBIA level 1 certificate simply does not cover these more advanced skills to teach. A level 1 instructor that claims to, or attempts to teach these more advanced maneuvers and skills is operating outside their scope of training and practice under the PMBIA level 1 recognized program and insurance standard.

If you have already achieved a riding level that is beyond the beginner/intermediate stage, then you should certainly seek out a program that offers PMBIA level 2 certified instructors.

If you are a mountain bike athlete with more serious aspirations, like elite level racing, then a PMBIA level 3 instructor would most likely be suited to your training needs.

I hope this post has helped to clarify what the PMBIA certification actually means and what one should look for when deciding what course will best suit their skill level and learning needs or desires.
Regardless of the program or instructor you do choose to teach you, just be sure to get out there and..

Be rad mountain biking!

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