Not being on an actual coaching staff this year is something I'm still getting used to, but the idea of helping numerous programs/athletes are keeping things extremely fresh and exciting for me as of late. With that said though, I wanted to communicate an important early-season tip that I feel needs to be said.
"DON'T RUSH ANYTHING!"
Every season I coached on a high school team there was this unspoken pressure to get everything figured out in the quickest possible amount of time. We had meets to prepare for, we had a massive number of kids to organize and "assign" events, and we were extremely hungry to solidify certain parts of our daily/weekly processes.
The start of the season is generally a mix of excitement, confusion, decision making, and disorganization. Athletes and coaches are excited to see what the new season brings with hopes of lofty goals being realized. Many athletes are generally confused and aimless in terms of what events to compete in during the upcoming season, while coaches are trying to determine their own event numbers in hopes of creating daily/weekly plans to meet every athlete's needs. Decisions are aplenty as both coaches and athletes must decide on how to best proceed after getting the initial chaotic days out of the way. Lastly, the preparation and mental images created by coaches are put to the test - which generally results in some kind of disorganization no matter how hard the coaches prepare.
There truly is nothing like the start of a track and field season. A sport that invites all to participate no matter of skill or experience is something to truly behold and thus can be mindboggling at times.
Throughout all of this though, coaches and athletes must remember to take things slowly and to do all they can to avoid rushing the process of properly unfolding the early days/weeks of a season. If rushing occurs, mistakes, injuries, and misconceptions can easily occur and thus should be avoided at all costs.
One of the smartest things I ever did as a coach was to NOT JUMP ATHLETES at an early-season meet because I felt they weren't prepared. It was hard at first because it felt like we were "wasting" an opportunity, but in the end, my athletes were much better in the long run and made some significant progress.
Specifically focusing on the long and triple jumps, you should be using the early season to determine marks, teach takeoff mechanics and form, and expose them to landing drills that can be taught without a pit (research the "Chair Landing" drill). If you rush the approach development of athletes you are potentially putting them in a no-win situation where they will simply scratch all of their attempts. If you rush takeoff development (especially in the triple jump) you put them at risk of potentially injuring themselves. Lastly, if you rush the landing development of athletes you put them at risk of not entering the pit correctly and thus also (potentially) putting themselves in harm's way.
There's time to be cautious and there's time to ignore caution in hopes of achieving personal/team goals. The early part of the season is a time for caution. There is simply no reason to risk a season by pushing them to compete or perform a drill/task prior to their overall readiness.
To be clear, this doesn't mean you shouldn't push them hard to start the season - because YOU SHOULD! The early season is for higher overall volume and must be used as a time of preparation for later competitions/training. Work them hard! Simply don't rush the development which is something altogether different.
As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out! I am here for anyone looking for additional information and support!