Coach's Toolkit: Monitor Progress and Database Building

    After a long season, one of the most difficult things to do as a coach is to finish plugging information into our database. I find it precious to look back at your season and monitor your progress. It is a must to take account of your PRs, injuries, records, etc. Hopefully, with your annual plan in hand, it will be easy to see how injuries, records, and PRs may connect to things you have/haven't done on or off the track. Even in the short high school season, we test our athletes a number of times. Testing is another way to collect useful data for late in the season and over the course of your career. The first round of tests we do on the first two days of practice.

    These tests include the USATF test system, a hurdle skill challenge, and mile run. We do this over the course of two days and record every performance. On that first couple of days, my coaches and I have a pretty clear what type of athletes we have on our team. This is important for a number of reasons. The value of these early tests is to nudge athletes into events that they show early signs to succeed in. On week number 3 or 4 (depending on when spring break falls) we then have time trials. In time trials we use a starter's pistol, blocks, and lanes. In the jumps/throws, we allow the same number of performances just like a track and field meet.

     Once we are done with this testing, it goes into a simple database. With times and distances imputed it becomes much easier to predict what our athletes should accomplish by the end of the year. Below I have enclosed the expected improvement from our time trials at week 3/4 to the end of a quick high school season. Please note these are the times we see in my program. Results will vary depending on your season length, weather, and other factors. These are the drops in time we have seen on the track over the course of my short ten years coaching. 100 Dash .5 to .7 200 Dash 1.25 to 2.0 400 Dash 3 to 5 800 13 to 16 1600 25 to 35 3200 40 to 50 seconds

    Why is important to have to keep records of all your times each season and your career? One major reason is that you can begin to see what progress is expected for your kids. It also can be used as an evaluative tool to let you know if your kids are hitting the desired performances by the end of the season. If your athlete fails to meet your expectations, then it's important to go back and investigate what took place. While you evaluate each case, you should begin to see reasons why that particular athlete failed to meet expectations. Don't worry too much if it's just a handful of your athletes. If just a few athletes it is your job to investigate what they are doing at home and how you can help make the most of your training. If you are doing good things based on science and solid training theory, often those kids will not make progress because of things they are doing the 22 hours away from you. This year we had many kids run very fast times in the 100 and 200 during time trials.

    Testing again in past season's proved vital because it allowed me to turn my focus from a 4×400 focus to get my team ready for the 4×100 and 4×200 relay. The choice to tweak training after the data was acquired after time trials turned out to be a positive choice as my team came home with All-State honors in the 4×100 and 4×200 plus running our fastest times in both events at the state championship.

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