Pre-season Priorities and Time Management


Spring high school track is in full swing across most of the country and even programs in the colder climates are getting going. Depending on your location and athletic department, early season weather and facility availability often make it a challenge to train. Allotment of time for the facilities between different sports, school schedule dynamics, and normal athletic association rules start to paint you into pretty small corners (sometimes hallways or janitor’s closets). You work with your constraints and try to expand or shift them the best you can, but eventually it’s about prioritizing what’s more important and making sure sufficient amounts/quality of those elements are undertaken.

This early season period is general prep or more towards a refresher of general prep for most, so it’s essential to revisit and or lay foundations for training, skills, and capacities needed as the season progresses. At the high school level learning skills is important, but basics take precedence as basic fitness and the ability to handle volumes of quality running and ground contacts are usually the most glaring need. Skill and teaching things needed for future skills can be worked into the training, but it’s important to see what you are really getting done with your limited time. More talented and more developed programs may have kids who are fitter, more prepared, and can do more advanced training elements, but in many locations kids have a hard time skipping correctly much less doing multiple-jump routines.

One of my biggest mistakes when I first started as a high school coach was spending too much of our limited time teaching training skills and or lead ins to more advanced activities that detracted from time to do basic and grossly deficient elements and get fit. This doesn’t mean you’re not teaching, but volumes and time spent on quality warm-up contacts and postures, quality running/sprinting, core volumes, etc.. take precedence over spending 15mins of an hour or hour and a half of practice time to teach and then do 20 much more cleanly done multiple throws (yes in some places you get placed in that pickle). Volume and time spent isn’t the sole measure of training, but if it’s quality and needed training, logging the time spent on different elements can be enlightening.

How much time do you have? How much time do you spend on warmup? Running/sprinting? Other elements taxing energy system fitness in route? Core? Strength Training? Flexibility/Mobility exclusive and concurrent to other elements? How are you managing your time?

Matt Gardner
As a track and field coach Matt has produced school record holders and state champions in the sprints, hurdles, jumps and middle distance events. He has coached athletes from a wide variety of sports including Professional Football, World Cup bobsleigh, Swimming, Track and Field, Olympic Weightlifting, Baseball, Tennis, and Golf. Matt has extensive experience consulting and collaborating with high level sports medicine professionals to help rehabilitate injured athletes and optimize the performances of healthy ones.