Most of us are now into the Competition phase of our season’s for high school, college, and pro it is important to look at what we want out of our first competitive experience.
First, you want to make sure you come away healthy. It is so tempting to unleash your stud athlete on all the unsuspecting coaches across the world. However, if they are nursing something its best to let them heal and wait till you really feel safe to have them compete. Having a Ferrari in the garage with no wheels is no fun.It is important to stress the warm up and cool down to keep kids from creating new injuries. A lot of kids want to socialize and talk to old friends they have not seen in a while. We had our first meet this last weekend. We NEED to do a better of job with warming up and cooling down before our events.
Second, coaches should use the first couple of meets to give your athletes a chance to figure out what is their best event. The early season allows you to adjust your roster and event selection without the worry of messing around with rhythm that you will need for your peak phase.Due to our first meets being done over spring break we have a rolling start to the season. I don’t try to over work the kids or load up our relays. Doing this rolling start gives every kid a chance to get involved right away.Third, take realistic look at how your kids did in their actual performance. You learn a lot about your athletes from this experience. Did they run faster, the same, or slower than time trials? Were they properly aroused, nervous, or dead at the line? Was their strongest performance at the beginning, middle, or end of the meet? Answers to these questions are needed.
Finally, make sure you are a big cheerleader! Do your best to make sure the kids are having fun!! I was very pleased with how the kids cheered one another on through the entire meet. I feel college coaches needed to do a better job of this aspect of coaching. For most kids they have no clue the nuances of our sport. Most important aspect of their experience early is to have fun and know you are proud of them! Even as a coach it’s hard to evaluate everything in real time as track and field is a three ringed circus.
Coming away from the meet I learned our kids are fearless, competitive, and we have a good amount of talent (Second out of nine strong teams). With more talent coming after spring break, health, and a little bit of luck it should be a great year.