ATBA-UK Marketing, review and reflections

I’ve been heavily involved in marketing and communications for the ATBA-UK over the past five years During that time we’ve used many different platforms, strategies and tactics to try to communicate and engage with the UK mountainboarding community. We started with a website and used email newsletters and facebook posts to drive people to the website. As the email metrics dropped and fewer people visited the website we switched to a ‘Social front and centre’ strategy which included putting the content we wanted people to see in the email newsletters and facebook posts so that the reader didn’t have to click through to read the message. The numbers continued to fall. 

Now, with so few mountainboarders engaging with the ATBA-UK through competitions, instructor training, and membership, and with fewer mountainboard centres doing fewer events, there is so little to talk about. Not having much to say means people stop bothering to read anything, which means it is no longer worth the effort to write facebook posts, send email newsletters, snap instagram pics, or tweet. 

So what to do for the best for the future? That is the question. When things get down to nothing it’s often hard to get them going again. Like a mountainboard getting to the bottom of the run, it eventually runs out of momentum. Do we call it a day, or do we pick it up and go for another run?

The 66th ATBA-UK Newsletter

Round 1 Results

What a great start to the 2015 UK Series! We saw the regular faces, some new faces and even some of the old faces. There was lots of close races, skilled downhill runs and spectacular stunts in the freestyle.Check out the results from Round 1 of the UK Series ’15 on the ATBA-UK website.
Round 1 Results


Round 2 in Perth

For Round 2 we return to Perth in Scotland but this time you not only get to ride the fun Downhill course but also the countries only public BoarderX track. Two disciplines, twice the fun!

Dates: 13th & ­14th June

Disciplines: BoarderX and Downhill

Location: Perth, Perth & Kinross, Scotland. Nearest Post Code: PH2 0NE.

What you need to know


The BoarderX Track will be open for practice on Friday. The Downhill Track will be available with care as other people may be using it.


Registration is open from 9 to 10 am. Entry Fees are £10 for members and £20 for non members per competition, so if you’re a member entering BoarderX and Downhill will cost you £20.

Boarder X

BoarderX racing will start at 11 am on Saturday. Qualification will be run using ability-level groups with a maximum of three riders in each race.


Downhill will start at 2:30 pm on Saturday.

Prize Giving

Prize-giving will be at 6 pm


Camping is available on the grass near the track. Vans are welcome in the car park near the track. Camping is £5 per person per night.


Entertainment will be provided by whoever can sing the loudest.


Bring your own food and drink. And if you’re going to bring sweets, bring enough to share

What should you bring?

Bring your board, and helmet and pads (you won’t be able to compete unless you have a helmet, elbow and knee pads and wrist guards).
Bring a tent, sleeping bag, etc. and clothes to keep yourself warm and dry whatever the weather.
Bring plenty of food and drink, especially water if the weather is hot. And bring sun cream and insect repellent.
Bring money, so you can pay for your entry fees (£10 per comp, £20 if you do both disciplines), and camping (£5 per person per night).

Join the Facebook Event


Last Year’s comp at Perth

If you want to see more videos from last year, check out the UK Series 2014 playlist on Youtube.
UK Series ’14 Videos


International Mountainboard Film Festival

The season is in full swing and it’s the perfect time to be out filming for your entry for the 2015 International Mountainboard Film Festival.

Get planning, get filming, get over to Facebook to find out more.

IMFF on Facebook


UK Series 15 – When and where

UK Series 15 - When and where
R1 – 16th & ­17th May – BX, DH, FS at Hereford Board and Bike Park – DONE
R2 – 13th & ­14th Jun – DH, BX at Perth – NEXT
R3 – 4th Jul – DH at Fruit Farm
R4 – 18th Jul – FS at Knockhill
R5 – 1st & 2nd Aug- BX, FS at Another World
R6 – 15th­ & 16th Aug – BX, DH, FS at Hales Board & Bike Park

Working for the ATBA-UK

Riding around on a quad, eating chocolate chip cookies, playing roadkill bingo, scaring bikers, planning for the future, and scratching my freeriding itch. I love working for the ATBA-UK.

Five years with ATBA-UK

This month marks my 60th month with ATBA-UK. That’s five years. Longest I’ve ever done anything in my life.

This time last year I wrote about what I wanted to achieve over the next few years, and it all seems to be going to plan.

The “Make Mountainboarding A Sport” campaign is gathering speed with shops and suppliers coming on board to help us catch people buying mountainboards for Christmas. In the new year the PR will go out to raise awareness outside the mountainboarding community, and then in the spring the Centres will (hopefully) be handing out lots of postcards and collecting new riders details for us. All of this is about adding all those mountainboarders we don’t really know about to our database to demonstrate that there are enough people participating in mountainboarding to justify it being a sport. Of course there is still a lot of policy and documentation writing to be done but I’m working on that too.

My strategy documents are progressing too, with the objectives for each business function of the ATBA-UK almost complete. These strategy documents are a huge piece of work but are essential for formalising our priorities and how we approach the work we do to ensure we are achieving our mission of supporting the growth of mountainboarding in the UK.

The past couple of months have seen a bit of a resurgence of the Instructor Training Programme with me delivering Instructor Training to an Activity Centre and Training Provider Training to a Mountainboard Centre. It’s another one of those massive projects that should be a full time job and is going to take years, but it’s good to see it progress.

Over the coming months I want to spend some time improving and making better use of, both as a resource for new riders and as an income stream for the ATBA-UK. I wish I had more time to focus on this but hopefully with some help the site can be improved and can become more successful.

I wonder where I’ll be with all of these this time next year?

Just another day in the office

When someone asks me what I do for the ATBA-UK I always have trouble explaining myself. I do quite a few different things, even in an average week.

Discussed downhill comps with committee members.

Analysed the results of a riders survey to help inform the ATBA-UK’s decision-making process.

Wrote up my notes from the AGM.

Worked on the ATBA-UK’s Marketing Strategy and Plan for 2014 so that we have a coordinated and structured means of communicating with the riders and encouraging them to go to the competitions.

Started a calender for organising event dates for 2014 so centres don’t clash weekends.

Discussed with committee members alternative ways of selling raffle tickets for the snowboarding holiday that Pleisure donates to the ATBA-UK, so we can make more money next year.

Blogged my realisation about how I see the AGM differently to some other people, and what I can do about it.

Wrote a reference for someone who does volunteer work with the ATBA-UK to help their application to college.

Went to library to do some market research for an idea I have that would help the ATBA-UK market mountainboarding more effectively.

Discussed next years Downhill comps with committee members.

Spoke to an Accident Insurance company about providing accident and injury cover for ATBA-UK members at a discounted rate.

Organised some Instructor Training for a Regional Representative.

Added Regional Representatives to the Ride Guide Maps so they can keep their regions maps up to date.

Read some information about funding for sports organisations.

Created some auto-responder emails for Regional Representatives.

Updated company information on the Companies House website.

Applied for funding to pay for Regional Rep’s to do First Aid Training.

Updated Membership letters for 2014 Membership Packages.

Designed Entry Form for 2014 Uk Mountainboard Series.

Emailed someone who is interested in having a mountainboard lesson.

A speed control approach to learning to mountainboard

Different Mountainboard Instructors teach in different ways. Some focus on turning as a fundamental skill for controlling a board, some focus on powerslides to ensure their students can stop effectively. Its great that we have so much diversity in the way instructors deliver Mountainboard lessons. Its such a stronger position for a sport to be in than instructors arguing that their way is the right way or for the national governing body to try to force everyone to deliver lessons in the same way. Instructors need to be able find to way that suits the hill they are teaching on, and need the freedom to experiment with different techniques to find new and better ways.

I was chatting to an instructor who had found a new way of teaching mountainboarding, and said he found that kids fell less and increased their confidence quicker, and also had seen an increase in kids returning for more sessions after their initial lesson. The hill he teaches on is quite steep and he had found that when getting riders to link turns they would accelerate part way through the turn (when the board is facing down hill), panic, and loose control.

So, he now takes riders to one side of the slope, gives them a target to aim for on the other side and gets them to ride diagonally across the slope with the instruction that if they want to go a bit faster to turn down hill a little, and if they want to go slower to turn up hill. This way they get a good understanding of how the angle of the board on the hill affects the speed of the board and instead of learning turns to control their speed because they are going too fast, they learn to use turns to pick up speed, and at their own pace too. Then they ride the other way across the slope, gradually getting better at controlling their speed and linking their turns right from the start.

Diversity is a good thing. Let’s find more ways to teach mountainboarding and share them.

Structural engineering

I’ve been puzzling over a potential future problem that the ATBA-UK might face at some time in the future for a while now. What if people who hold prominent/vital positions on the committee resigned and no one wanted to take their place?

For a long time I thought it was a people problem. A problem that could be solved by simply finding (or sometimes making) the right people. But the problem states that there aren’t any people, so that can’t be the solution.

Eventually I started thinking outside the box and looking at the problem with a wider perspective. Maybe, rather than solve the problem, I could use the problem to make changes to the system that the problem was occurring in and make the system stronger at the same time.

The committee has a hierarchical structure. It is organised, like many traditional companies, with a single person at the top who has ultimate control over and responsibility for the running of the company, and various levels of people with diminishing levels of power and responsibility beneath. This structure, and the roles contained within it, is cemented as fundamental to the organisation in the constitution. And because of that, the positions that make up the committee have to be filled, even if there are no people or the people we have don’t have the right skills for the job.

So, if we were to change the way the organisation is structured, we could not only remove the lack of people problem, we could make the ATBA-UK stronger and more able to adapt to changes more quickly. We could do away the hierarchical structure and use a flat structure, which places every person at the same level of responsibility and means the committee can shrink and grow as required. There would be a number of roles, which match the operational requirements, and could be added to as the ATBA-UK undertakes new work. These roles could be filled by a single person, by multiple people, or split up with different people undertaking different parts of the work of that role.

I don’t know if these changes will ever be implemented but I really enjoyed thinking outside the box to come up with this solution.

Competition Formats

I was at Another World Adventure Centre this weekend to help out with the boarderx competition for their Away Day.

On Saturday we used the old system of three timed runs to qualify the riders into a list of fastest to slowest, and then sort them into races. This system works best with thirty two, or even sixteen riders, going into four man races, but it this case we had fourteen riders doing two man races. With a few tweeks such as not using the folding method to put the best against the worst but instead stacking them so rider 1 competed against rider 8 and rider 7 against rider 14 so the ability gap wasn’t quite so big at the opposite ends, the system worked adequately.

On Sunday, when we were running the whole thing again, I decided to experiment with a different system. It was based on the ‘Challenge Threes’ system I developed years ago for fun comps that don’t really want to use knockouts to find a winner. With a few adaptations for such small numbers we ended up with this:

Split the riders into two equal groups, the best in group one and the worst in group two. For the first race, the riders compete against riders in the same group, but the riders who come first in their race go into group one and those who come second go into group two. This happens for each race meaning half the riders from each group change groups each time so there is variety in who races who. Riders who win in group one get four points, second gets three points, first in group two gets two points and last gets one point. Then, once the riders have had enough races we add up all the points they’ve earned and announce the winner.

Its a really simple system that can be run on a couple of sheets of paper and gives the riders as many races as they want. It also made me think that the ATBA-UK should publish the different competition systems it uses to make it easier for centres to run competitions more easily.

Why are competitive riders grouped the way there are?

Competitors in mountainboard comps are almost always grouped by age, and some times by gender. But why? Just because you’re the same gender and a similar age as another ride, why should you be competing against them? Neither age nor gender have any causal relationship with mountainboarding ability. So why are all the women put in one group and all the men over thirty in another group?

If we think back to the beginning of mountainboard competitions, when there weren’t very many riders, and the range of ability was much closer (I assume), it might have made sense to split the women from the men, and the younger riders from the older riders. And although the splits between the groups have moved over time, the historic idea of how riders should be divided has persisted.

At Round 2 of the UK Series 13 we rolled out a new boarderx qualification system that took a step away from the old way of classifying riders and grouped them by ability. We started with a list of riders, used their previous results to sort the list best to worse, and then split the list into groups of twelve. Each group then had three races so riders could earn points before being sorted back into their categories. The riders seemed to like it.

It’s always nice when the riders like the changes we make, but that isn’t why we did it. We came up with this system to make the qualifying races more interesting for those riders that otherwise would have had three pretty much identical qualifying races. We wanted the system to be safe first and foremost, which is why we don’t include the Groms (under 12’s), and we wanted it to help riders improve their racing ability, which makes them safer and reduces injuries.

It’s a step towards moving away from the arbitrary classification of riders. I wonder where we’ll go next.