Monday, January 28, 2008

Track Practice Structure

Hi Coaches,

Here are some details about how we run our practices. All times are approximate. Remember -- our goal is to have fun, be safe, and also to make everyone feel welcome. You'll have some super athletes in your group but also some kids who don't look much like track stars to the untutored eye. They will all surprise you.

5pm -- Everyone arrives and gathers in the bleachers where we'll usually bore the kids with a few announcements. It takes a while for everyone to trickle in. The CPHS track team will usually be on the track until 5:15pm, but we'll still tell everyone that our practices begin at 5pm.
We have to keep the kids off the track for safety reasons so I hope you'll all help.

5:15pm -- The high school team should be off the track by now. Practice begins with a warm-up lap and then we break up into "primary groups," each of which is lead by a "primary coach" as follows: Val Gebhart (2-3 boys), Diane Quigley (4-5 boys), me (6-7-8 boys), Karen Sandri (2-3 girls), Paul Hollidge (4-5 girls), and Sharon White (6-7-8 girls).

Each group will have a spot on the track where the kids will wind up after their lap (or lap and a half, depending the group). We do this warm-up lap before we begin stretching since it's best to stretch warm muscles.

In the past, we usually did static stretching first followed by running drills/dynamic stretching. This season, for my group at least, we're going to change that around since many of the kids don't actually warm up much as they lazily walk the warm-up lap or show up late.

-- Running drills/Dynamic stretching. Again, the primary coaches will lead this to begin with and you'll quickly get the idea. We encourage the kids to skip higher, lunge farther, and lift those knees higher, claiming all the while that it will improve their performance. Maybe it will.

5:25pm --
-- Static stretching. The primary coaches will lead this at first and then assistants can take it over once you know the program. I like to let different kids lead the stretches though it can be challenging to keep them from being excessively silly about it.

This will take about all of our time for the first couple of weeks as darkness will descend.

After the first couple of weeks, you'll be treated to me blowing a whistle as hard as I can as a signal to break into workout groups. Each primary group will have different options on different days and you will help your primary coach distribute your group. This is naturally harder for the younger groups than the older kids, but on the other hand the younger kids actually take suggestions more readily so it's a wash.

Depending on who is available for field events, we will have shot put, high jump, long jump, relay practice, road runs, and both sprint and middle-distance workouts.

As we approach the end of practice, I'll blow the whistle again to send everyone back to their groups. They are supposed to do another lap (we call it the "cool down lap") and then stretch with their groups until they are dismissed.

At College Park, we will then walk the kids to the parking lot and at least one coach of each gender will wait with the kids until all are picked up. I often am happy to wait out the inevitable late parent, but occasionally have to leave right away for another event so I hope you'll all take a turn every few weeks.

See you soon!


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