Why You Shouldn’t Coach Freshmen
The other day, while trolling the Interwebs, I saw a post about how a coach had an athlete run 4×8, 800, 1600 *and* 3200 in the same meet. I tweeted:
Any coach who has a HS kid run 4×8, 800, 1600, 3200 in same meet should be fired on the spot.
— Latif Thomas (@latif_thomas) May 18, 2013
And he/she should.
Most coaches agreed because the types of coaches who follow me on Twitter are (generally) rational human beings who prefer not to abuse children to pad their personal coaching stats. ‘Abuse’ too strong of a word for your politically correct soul? Then I meant ‘incompetent’. That coach is incompetent.
Most states have rules limiting the number of events an athlete can do. It’s protection for the athletes because here at the high school level (and especially in a second class sport like track and field) the only coaching qualification you need is to have human DNA.
Then again, after the last school I coached at, even that is debatable.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.
I can write workouts that will make my athletes puke up the dog meat sandwich or whatever garbage their school served them for lunch. Doesn’t mean I should do it. (That also goes for eating school lunches.)
I can go buy crack, smoke it and roll up to practice looking like Tyrone Biggums. It doesn’t mean I should.
The whole incident reminded me of something I’ve found myself saying regularly this season:
“I don’t coach freshmen.”
I have two talented freshmen on my team. One male, one female. Two amazingly different human beings who each hold freshman school records in various events.
They don’t get much attention. Only one of them was even allowed in the weight room. And that was only in the spring. And that was only because he asked 50 times.
But, shouldn’t I be putting time and effort into molding ‘the future’ of the program?
Sure. And I am. But that doesn’t mean they should get any specific attention or coaching. Because they’re training age zero little children who don’t know what a warm up is and certainly haven’t paid their dues like the older kids.
Running a successful program depends on your ability to delay gratification and think long term. Because you can’t teach and stabilize performance in kids (who aren’t freaks) in less than 12 weeks.
In this this video from my HS 400m Development program, I explain a simple way to approach long term athletic development when dealing with short high school seasons:
To your success,
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And last, but not least…
About Latif ThomasUSATF Level II and USTFCCCA Event Specialist (Sprints, Hurdles & Relays) Certified High School Track and Field coach specializing in the sprint events. But I know a thing or two about the jumps and hurdles as well.
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