I almost daily talk to at least 3 or more coaches about youth track and field.What can make it better,what are some of the best practices they incorporate to yield the best performance outcomes and simply what they would like to see in their athletes. These tip come from my TrackMom notes from coaches across the country. Maybe you can take a few home for your youth athlete.
1. Eat for competition weekly not just for competition day. It is not enough to eat properly before a competition because the body needs a robust consistant intake of good nutrients via a balanced diet for good performance during practice which helps the bottom line of high performance competition.
2. Focus on quality practice week in and week out. It is better to train quality versus quantity to train proper technique and imprint neuromuscular correct motion patterns for optimum performance.
3. Teach athletes relaxed training and practice. Looking relaxed, practicing a relaxed posture during training helps the athlete to compete relaxed. It helps the athlete to commit to perfect performance during training and competition when it ultimately counts the most. The goal of effortless looking training is to help the athlete to avoid unnecessary muscular activity allowing the most efficient motor patterns to be developed.
4. Instill habits of punctuality and responsibility toward your sport. The importance of this concept can’t be overstated. In the age group division of track and field there is quite a bit of emphasis on the fun aspect which I agree with but, there needs to also be instilled the concept of respect for the sport and those that participate alongside the athlete. There is a limited amount of time kids have to practice and punctuality is very important to assure the training to be completed in a timely efficient manner. Yes, getting together to train is fun, kids like to talk and catch up; but the time for this isn’t during the training part of the practice. If the athletes don’t learn to focus on the task at hand they will suffer come competition day when they don’t perform to their best ability. The athletes must respect the coaches time, their team mates time and their own time. You can never get time back. Teach them (and maybe their parents too to respect and understand the value of the time they invest for their development.
5. Come prepared to work hard at practice. Going along with the above tip, when a person young or old understands what is expected it usually helps to achieve the expected /desired results. Discuss why practice is needed and the importance of bringing whatever is needed to help the athlete do what is required with as much ease as possible. Some of the things an athlete will need for track practice is but not limited to :
Water bottle or two if you need more reasons besides the obvious why water is so important read here.
Sweats, again it is obvious but the muscles need to stay warm and depending on the time of the season and area of the country it may be hotter or colder than expected and being prepared helps with variation of weather training conditions.
Proper training attire. always keep your spikes and running shoes together so the athlete can pack them quickly when it is time to leave for practice.Bring an extra shirt and or sweat shirt. Bring any needed personal/hygiene items kleenex etc.
6. Teach to push just a little more every time. In track and field we call, this “leaving it all on the track” There is nothing worse than watching an athlete you have trained not give 100% and leave the track after a race not tired ,winded or basically un-phased from the effort put out in the race, jump or throw just performed. The body will not grow and change without a push of extra effort…Do the same old thing get the same less than response. This is never the goal. Just push…
I will have more coach tips in the future
Stay tuned for tips 7-10