Undoubtedly, it would be silly to discuss which of a starter’s orders is most important, “Runners to your marks”, “Runners set” or the firing sound of the starting pistol to signal “Go”. The “Get Set” command, however, requires some preparation, a willingness to start the competition.

Without exaggerating this analogy, we as track and field athletes and trainers agree that the readiness to compete or the long distance organization and preparation before calling “Get Set” requires thoughtful planning and a systematic approach to prepare to teach, coach or compete properly and efficiently.

Let’s start with an overview of some basic philosophies and approaches in a year-round program used by many successful athletics coaches to prepare athletes for their competitive season.

Factors to Consider with Careful Planning and Organization

A “holistic” planning might be the best way to describe an effective method for a comprehensive approach to preparation for each track and field season. This holistic philosophy affects the “whole person”, his particular schedules and individual needs.

Do they do other sports in the off-season? Perhaps they also play and train in football or basketball, cross-country skiing, football or volleyball etc.. Maybe athletics is their only sport and they can concentrate on their respective events all year round. Do they have a job? What class loads and schedules do they have? What family dynamics and responsibilities do they have? The details vary from athlete to athlete.

As a coach, it would be almost impossible to know every aspect of every athlete’s life and to know what their requirements and needs are. This ability would be like trying to acquire knowledge of every size and model of athletic shoe worn by every athlete in your conference. It is ultimately up to each individual athlete to juggle their needs in relation to their desires and goals in order to compete athletically. A team approach must be maintained, otherwise, chaos will arise.

As coaches, we must have team rules and standards that all team members must adhere to, but we must also remember that our athletes are individuals with individual responsibilities and expectations outside of athletics. Even though we should be very strict with our team rules in the athletics season, we need to get to know our athletes and be ready to treat them as individuals with individual circumstances when needed.

We should also try to create an atmosphere of flexibility in the off-season. The best we can do is to offer training opportunities, facilities where training can take place, and especially advice and encouragement. Most of us as athletics coaches and athletes are also tied to our respective sports management associations in the off-season as far as the interaction between coach and athlete is concerned.

This is usually the case when it comes to coaching athletics in middle school and high school and can vary from region to region. The other part of this holistic approach is the consideration of the “whole season”. Where is our concentration? Which encounters do we focus on? Young athletes and lower level athletes can improve from competition to competition throughout the season and find that their only goal is to practice PR.

Realistic expectations of medals and championships can be one or two years above your current fitness or experience level. Their God-given physical talents and their attitude to training and continuous pursuit of perfection will play a role in their future success. As a rule, pre-season meetings are used later to prepare for special large meetings to refine techniques and build fitness. Championship meetings are usually the focus of most track and field athletes, especially those with high-level experience and the ability to compete with the best at their level.

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