A number of years ago I was very lucky to get invited by a local coach to join him on a summer track and field club. By far this invitation was one of the most important moments of my coaching career. Through this relationship I learned an important lesson. The lesson taught to me that summer was talent is actually overrated. More important then talent is the willingness of the coach to give their athletes an opportunity to train when the weather is warm and your kids are at a high level of fitness. I am always amazed at how the more time spent running fast in the summer pays major dividends the following season. Even after long breaks in the fall I have seen vast improvements. Besides the biological benefit acquired from the physical adaptations summer track has its psychological advantages. Once your kids have completed a season of summer track the regular season meets will not be scary. In addition your athletes will spend a couple months around with highly motivated athletes that push their limits each training session. Kids who join summer track will find it hard hide. This can be intimidating but quickly becomes an atmosphere of positive peer pressure pushing kids to a level they never thought was possible.
Examples of different athletes and their improvement who ran summer track and their performances the following season
D.R. went from 76th at state to 1st in XC
D.E. went from not making it to state in XC to a State Champion
L.J. went from running 1:02.9 to a 57.8 in 400 Dash
A.H. went from running 30.0 to a 28.1 in 200 Dash
K.B went from a 28.6 to 25.5 in 200 Dash
R.J. went from a 12.6 to 11.6 in 100 Dash
K.T. went from 5:14.4 to 5:06.0 in the 1600 Run
T.B. went from 5:39.0 to 5:27.4 in the 1600 Run
These are just a few examples from my high school team who participated in our summer track and field team. As you can see the improvement is vast!
It is important before starting or joining a summer track and field team to know your local state rules in regards to contact days and coaching out of season. Our state allows a number of contact days which gives us coaches quite a bit of freedom. It’s also important to know the people who work for the summer track club. You want to make sure whatever program you join will live up to your expectations of professionalism. I suggest you take sometime and shop the programs. Spend a couple days observing the team’s in action so you can feel comfortable with your choice. If you join the team it will become an extension of your coaching and reputation so it must be in good standing.
If you decide to go with your own program make sure you don’t go it alone. The best coaches I have met have great assistances. You will need a lot of talented individuals (athletes and coaches) to start something new and get the team off the ground. Don’t be afraid to start small and build from there. Remember the end justifies the means. It will be a lot of work but your team will improve by leaps and bounds.