The other day I was messaging an athlete that I coached at one of my clinics awhile back. He is currently in college and is jumping/sprinting at a very high level. I had emailed him about a personal matter, but the conversation quickly turned to his desire to have better coaching at the collegiate level; and reminisced about our time together at the clinic (that met four times for 2 hours a piece).
The athlete was an extremely successful and decorated high school jumper and sprinter. As well, he played football, and was generally seen as one of the best talents in the state during his time playing. As a track and field athlete his personal accomplishments were as follows:
- Triple jump PR - 46 feet
- Long jump - 21´6¨
- 100 meter dash - 11.33
- 200 meter dash - 23.38
For reference, in my current district (Sun Prairie - Division 1) this athlete´s times in the 100 and 200 meter dashes are just outside the top ten all time. In both the jumps, this athlete would have been top ten all time - which would have been great accomplishment (he did all this being a division 3 athlete and having a great deal less resources than we have at the division 1 level). He had wonderful coaches and supports at the high school level and because of his great determination and environment he earned his way onto a successful collegiate track and field team.
Now to the point - In his message, this athletes stated ¨...thanks for helping me out during the camp. I honestly need a triple jump coach like you. I don´t know what you said that clicked but it did!¨ Now in college, this athlete is not jumping up to his potential (in the triple jump) and is somewhat frustrated about his lack of big numbers.
There are multiple factors/reasons on why this might be happening. Some of them may definitely be the athlete´s fault because of a lack of effort and/or motivation; but this isn´t the first message I´ve received a message like this from an athlete. Too often (at all levels) I hear how little support athletes are getting in the sport. Unfortunately there are a large number of ¨bottom barrel¨ coaches out there that simply take the position for extra income, and because of this athletes suffer. These coaches drift through the season acting simply as a warm body that gives minimal instruction to their athletes.
We as coaches need to give nothing less than 100% to our athletes. As a TRACK coach you are at a disadvantage for coaching in an unpopular/underfunded sport so you´re tasked with working even harder. As track coaches we need to beam with passion for the sport. We need to give our athletes everything they could ever ask for - and more!
This website itself was created to go above and beyond the mundane, and to give ANY athlete everything he/she will ever need to be as successful as possible. I break down video for them. I teach them mental strength activities to help with anxiety. I continually ask if they have any questions as to personalize their training the best I can. I give my time and energy to anyone looking for it. I'm nothing special. I'm just a guy that loves the sport. I'm a guy that would give anything to do this as a full-time job. The sport of track and field has made it's way into my blood and will forever be a huge part of my life. This is what we as coaches should all aspire to be.
No more being a coach for financial gain! No more having our athletes search out others to learn from. No more being OK with average. Track and field is a great sport, and it (and it's athletes) deserves GREAT coaches.