Moving Forward by Looking Back


After my visit to the Olympic training Center I came back with a new perspective on training, coaching, and life. I couldn’t help to think how far I have come in a relatively short time. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was a coach’s nightmare in college (talented, injury prone, and opinionated). Now here I stand at the OTC as a coach trying to push the limits of my knowledge, philosophy, and connections to become a better coach for my kids. A couple things became very clear to me after finishing the week long program. First, every coach no matter what level they coach deal with the same issues: kids not buying in, being too busy, relationship troubles, difficult parents, and more serious obstacles. The similarities are amazing at each level of our wonderful sport. Another epiphany that came to me was my need to go back to my program and add some important details I had taken for granted over the last couple years. My program is 95% there on paper. That missing 5% is fun and challenging. One challenge of modern coaching is chasing the happiness of young people. You can’t guarantee your athletes will be happy all the time as what makes them happy changes generation to generation, year to year, and day to day. Change is going to happen whether you like it or not. Focus on what you CAN control. The easiest factor you can control is your program, its design, and function. Of course each kid brings new challenges that will mean some tweaking to keep your kids advancing in the future if you are going to coach long term. After the OTC I found looking back to my USATF level two materials on a yearly basis will be a great tool to help keep me grounded in what is IMPORTANT to do verses what would be nice to do. Additionally, each year I look at the workouts Gary Winckler gave me years ago for his training design pro. Something coach said after giving me those workouts has stuck with me for years. Coach Winckler said “Ryan these workouts might provide more questions than they provide answers.” I was too proud in 2006 to ask those questions. A difficult thing for a coach to admit is how much he/she doesn’t know. Now that I am continuing my education I love discovering things I had/have no clue about. It’s wonderful!!!! The worst thing you can do is go to a clinic and be the smartest guy in the room. Even worse is having a room full of yes men that never push you forward as a coach. One quote that rang true during my experience at the OTC was when our school director Charles Clinton (Poly High Fame) said “if you are the smartest guy in your coaching circle you need a new circle!” Every year I look at coach Winckler’s workouts and it’s as if I am seeing them for the first time! The workouts make more sense with each season and the dots begin to connect in my head. It’s awesome. Don’t be afraid to go back and look at what you used to do. Don’t be afraid to add some of those routines, sessions, and excises back into your training.

If you get a chance to participate in the USATF emerging elite coaches school I suggest you all spend the money and a week of your life there. I promise it will be worth the trip. I want to thank all my roommates for the late nights of talking shop, joking, and building friendships. Tim, Stephan, Jordan, Nathan, and Milton you guys are wonderful human beings and your kids will continue to benefit from your mentorship! I wanted to thank all of those who I met in Chula Vista many had kind words about our blogs on it became clear how many people really do read what we post here. Speaking for Mike, Carl, Vern, etc I wanted to say thanks and don’t be afraid to ask questions!!!!!

Ryan Banta

Ryan Banta

Ryan is a successful high school coach. His athletes have achieved 76 school records, 2 top four finishes at the state championships, 3 district championships, 107 state semi-finalist (sectionals), 63 state qualifiers, 2 state records (3200 and 4x800), 14 national ranked events, 34 all state performances, 8 state champions, 7 runner up performances, and 2 Gatorade athletes of the year. Ryan is a USATF level II coach in the sprints, hurdles, relays, and endurance and recently earned a USTFCCCA track and field technical coaching certification.