Thu, Dec 10, 20 Travis Geopfert
16-Apr-2021 By Travis Geopfert
The Challenges of Coaching Track and Field
Many high school, junior high, and club track and field programs are understaffed with only 1 to 3 coaches for 25 or more athletes of varying skill levels competing in many different events. The main challenge is to try and give everyone attention and structure while still focusing on the specific needs for each event group.
The main way to accomplish this challenge is for coaches to be organized and efficient before anyone steps foot on the track or in the field. How should a coach begin with this daunting task? It comes down to three basic tasks, and if you can accomplish these 3 tasks, you will have success as a track and field coach.
- Create Groups
- Create Workouts
- Create Goals
1. Create event or skill level groups for running workouts. You can make the groups as specific or as generalized as needed. For example, put all the jumpers and short sprinters (long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, 100, 200, sprint hurdles) into group one. Then, have all long sprinters and long hurdlers group together (400, 400 hurdles) to form group two. And lastly, put the 800 meter runners through 3200 meter runners in a group together to form group three.
If you prefer to get more specific, break these up into smaller groups or create age/skill level appropriate groupings. Another example would be putting all sprinters or jumpers with the ability to run a 200 meter dash in 22-23 seconds in group one, 23-24 second ability in group two, and 24-25 second ability in group three, 25-26 second ability in group four, and so on.
Depending on how the groups are decided, be sure it's written down and ready for when you get to the track so each athlete knows the group in which they will be training.
2. Create workouts where everyone isn't necessarily doing the same thing, but at least they're in the same place at the same time. Creating similar workouts on each given day allows a coach the ability to watch everyone and hold them accountable in their workouts. This also creates a positive team atmosphere where the whole group works together and cheers each other on to finish a tough workout.
How can this be accomplished? For example, a general conditioning cycle can have the middle distance/distance runners doing 10 reps x 300 meters runs with 3 minutes rest, the long sprinters doing 6 reps x 300 meters with 3 min rest, and the short sprints/hurdlers doing 6 reps x 200 meters with approximately 3 min rest, and the jumpers doing 4 reps x 200 meters with approximately 3 min rest. This general conditioning workout will have the entire team performing similar workouts while allowing each athlete to train for their specific event.
Another example where similar workouts can be performed by various groups is a hill running workout. The hills can vary in length and in volume, but at least everyone from a 3200 meter runner to a thrower can be in one place together performing specific conditioning for their respective event.
On more technical days, hurdlers can be doing hurdle starts over hurdles, sprinters can be doing sprint block starts, and jumpers can be doing approach runs for the high, long, and triple jumps. The athletes are training the same energy systems while also getting in the specific event work they need to perform their best on technical days.
3. Create "goal times" for each group. A fundamental rule in track and field training is to make the training specific to the goal. Training a freshmen girl to run a 65 second 400 meter dash should NOT be the same as the senior superstar who might be able break the school record of 56.9.
When creating groups, strongly consider the ability of each athlete. There might 3-4 girls that could run between 57 and 59 seconds in the 400 meters, and another group of 5-6 girls that can run 60-64 seconds in the 400 meters. Trackwired training programs make this very easy. Once you purchase a training program from Trackwired, you can import the training plan as many times as you like with as many different goal times as you need depending on the number of groups that are created. Group one can have the goal of the school record of 56.92 seconds and group two can all train to break that heralded barrier of 60 seconds flat! Trackwired does all calculations for each rep of every workout for any goal time, at any level, all season long. The coolest part is if you meet the goal you can change the goal time and continue to challenge the athletes!
Trackwired workouts were designed with the concept of creating a cohesive structure for an entire team, if so desired. All training plans for every event are "synced up" so one coach can manage a whole track team by themselves, if needed. While all the workouts vary from one another and are specific to the needs of each event, they still give the organization and structure needed for one coach to keep their eye on the entire team.
Trackwired is the only training platform in track and field where individual goal times can be selected. Coaches can create a challenging program for the most talented runners in every event while also setting realistic goals for younger athletes to keep them engaged and excited about the sport. Along with setting a goal there is also a 30 second video attached directly to every drill prescribed. From warm up "A Skips" to high jump "back-overs" to "how to take 8 steps" to the first hurdle, there is a video for every drill.
Personalized workouts and videos in the palm of your hand will help every track and field program be organized and efficient in every event! The goal of Trackwired co-founders, Andy Gilmore, Tyler Geopfert and Travis Geopfert is for every track and field athlete to have a great experience at a young age and continue to develop in our sport!
Wishing all the coaches out there the very best as you begin to get organized for your upcoming season!