To say that I'm excited would be an injustice to my track and field team. I am WAY beyond excited. This time of year is honestly magical to me, and is something I greatly miss during the offseason.
To see my athletes again, and be able to actually coach them is wonderful. I've got a passionate and talented group this year that I am dying to see jump.
Our first two days have been unlike any in recent memory due to the great weather conditions we are experiencing here in Wisconsin. I know it may all be some cruel joke that will result in 2-3 feet of snow being dumped on us in 3 weeks, but I'll take it anyway!
Day one was nothing more than setting the expectations and tone for the season. Doug (the head coach) showed his intensity early on day one. Our philosophy is to have fun, but also to be accountable to yourself and teammates. We discussed the importance of no phones, cheering one another on, giving their best effort (track, classroom, life, etc.) and the kids responded really well. At one point they even cheered when we discussed how brutal the sport can be from a soreness standpoint - weird kids...(laughing).
When I finally got the time to meet with my jumpers I went over a lot of the same points Doug had discussed with the entire team. I introduced myself and the other coaches I work with at the pits. After that, I talked about how truly important it is to give maximal effort in the long and triple jumps. The long jump is an event that nearly everyone tries at one point or another. If you aren't on your "A" game, someone is going to beat you! The triple jump is so technically difficult that if you don't bring your best it could result in injury. I sent the message that the coaching staff would always give 100% so they needed to as well.
In the past I've taken a few minutes to discuss my own personal background and the things I've accomplished in my career. I do this not to brag, but to show the new athletes how truly committed to the events/sport I am. This year though, I decided not to. I never want to seem as though I'm coming off as "cocky" and thus decided to let my coaching do the talking.
I laid out how the season would look, and how we would progress through various phases of training.
Some kids had some great questions about the two jumps but were generally pretty quiet. They had been given a lot of information already so I simply stopped our discussion there and moved on.
Today, the kids got to do a number of great things.
The triple jumper veterans started their day with me. During our time together I discussed numerous different things about the season, new drills, and our first meet. I have been having some strong reservations about jumping triplers at our first meet (next Friday) in Whitewater due to a fear of injury and poor preparation. The triple jump is an absolute beast of an event. For me (or anyone else) to expect them to perform it that early in the season is somewhat ludicrous. I've seen injuries happen in that first meet and that is something I want to avoid at all costs! The start of the season literally means nothing come championship (phase) time.
After a great deal of discussion we decided to simply treat the meet like a glorified practice and to approach it as additional exposure and nothing more. We won't be going there to win. We won't be going there in search of personal bests. We are simply going to do our best to connect phase one with phase two and that's it. If athletes can pull off a decent first phase that early that is a HUGE win.
Once I was done with triple jumpers I worked with the guy long/triple jumpers as one large group (girl long/triple jumpers were doing their sprint session for the day). In both sessions today (boys and girls) we did the same thing - prepare for the crouch start. I introduced them to the start, demonstrated it, and had them find their own personal "front foot." After that, we did some jumping into the pit to find out what foot was most comfortable for takeoff. Once those two things were established we assigned total approach numbers to everyone by grade level and experience. It went very smoothly.
Once done with the boys, I took all male and female sprinters upstairs to the weight room and assisted our strength and conditioning coach with the day's lifts. This was the first time I'd ever done this and it was amazing. I LOVED hanging with the kids in the weight room! They worked extremely hard, and the lifts were spot on for developing jumpers - it was honestly great!
After leaving the weight room the guys went to sprints and the girls came with me to the pits. We focused on the same start and takeoff items as the boys did.
The kids have been FANTASTIC and I couldn't be prouder. Looking forward to another day of "going to work" with them!
We will be working on my bounding progression. Kids need to start getting stronger and conditioning their legs/body for the pounding it will experience throughout the season. Bounding is a BIG part of this. So, I will introduce them to the routine, have them do the routine either outside on the grass or inside on soft mats, and watch closely for any improper movements to help them progress properly.