The season here in Wisconsin is only a mere handful of days away and I couldn't be more excited. This year, I won't be part of any specific coaching staff or team, but am hopeful to spread my knowledge far and wide throughout the state.
I've had numerous assistant position offerings but my goals for how I can positively impact the sport, our athletes, and even our state goes much further than coaching on any one team - but hopefully with numerous teams.
To kick this season's blog posts off, I'd like to focus on the last-minute planning and general approaches to the beginning of the season. I used to spend too much time planning for an upcoming season to later realize much of that planning was misguided and done prematurely prior to knowing my team's needs.
With that said, here are a few suggestions to ensure your start to the season goes off with out a hitch.
Don't plan more than a week in advance. As mentioned above, I used to plan season's worth of practice plans before even starting the season. I wanted to be prepared so badly that I was actually too prepared. Many of those plans were scrapped early on, but some of the lessons learned will be with me forever.
Testing is crucial. When I first started we coaching we did "tests" and general conditioning circuits to see where our kids were at. This wasn't done to pigeon-hole athletes into certain events but was helpful in determining where they might fit best and how we could help to support them in achieving their personal goals for that season. I found numerous athletes during "testing days" that I would have otherwise not known about. Their natural abilities as jumpers were very evident, and with some casual conversations designed to see where their heart were at I (generally) was able to talk them into giving the event(s) a try (with great results).
Use the first week to get your feet under you! I feel that programs feel the pressure of the short season and rush into things too quickly. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't push them hard during week 1 (you should!) but simply means to be meaningful with your planning instead of allowing fears or stress to determine them for you.
The start of the season should focus on HIGH VOLUME. From a periodization standpoint, coaches should plan to have their highest volume at the start of the season. I always joked that it was the "beat 'em up" stage in training. This joke still stands true - the start of the season is the best time to condition their bodies to peak at the end of the season as you gradually decrease the volume and amp up the intensity. Be mindful not to push too hard of course by continually scheduling meetings between coaches that share athletes.
The last (and most important) suggestion is to HAVE FUN! The sport of track and field is one that too many dismiss as a sport that only aims to run kids ragged in hopes of providing side aches and pain. This simply isn't true! Push them hard to weed out the ones that aren't committed to your goals as a team, but also show them the enjoyable sides of the sport and build their desire(s) to be there.
If you have any questions focused on preparing for the season or hope to connect about a different topic please don't hesitate to do so!
Have a wonderful upcoming weekend!
- Coach Ewing