Complete Track and Field

You’re Fired Friday (Volume 1)

If you’ve been following me over the years, you’ve no doubt noticed my slow evolution into the kinder and gentler Coach Thomas of today.

But that doesn’t mean I’m afraid to call some people out from time to time.

Oh no. Not at all.

Over the course of this year I’ve noticed some things. Some ridiculous things. And today I’m laying out my first round of new rules for track and field. Unfortunately for some, that means I have to fire some people.

Who? Why?

Watch this video to find out if you’re on my list.

 

- Latif Thomas

P.S. I’ll tell you who doesn’t get fired. Coaches who commit to their ongoing education. Learn from some of the best at the Complete Track and Field Summer Clinic, held at Harvard University:

Sprints


About Latif Thomas

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.
View all posts by Latif Thomas →
  • Rich

    Fire the coaches who exploit the talented athlete in the dual meets to run up the score. If a kid usually doubles in the 100/200 and your ahead in the meet by 57 points, why not let them sit out the 200 and give a lesser talented athlete a shot.

    Fire the coaches who don’t look ahead at the competitive schedule and see that the number of meets this same talented athlete will be entered in( 3 in 7 days, 4 in 10 days, 5 in 14 days, 6 in 18 days ) and the number of races ( 5 in 7 days, 7 in 10 days, 10 in 14 days, 12 in 18 days ) is, how can you say it, A BIT TOO MUCH!!!

    Fire the coaches who think it’s a good idea to have a legitimate state champion in one event try a new, completely different event in the last week of dual meet season which is also one week before championship season begins. INJURY!!!

    Fire the coaches who, once championship season begins, tells the 100/200 athlete “we’re doing block starts all week.” Like the first 8 weeks of the season block starts don’t matter???

  • martin j mallen

    Nice rant I too hate people that lie about seed times an example at our conference seeding meeting a school had two hurdlers listed at 13.1 and the other at 13.4 a full second faster than the Illinois state record. I’d be happy if my 100m girls ran that (even as a relay split). I told the other coaches at our school we need to make sure to bring a video camera so we can film future Olympians. It was as you alluded to it put my hurdler in lane 5 do to their invented time. The coach did not show up to the seeding meeting and the girls scratched so lanes 4 & 5 sat empty!!!!! I agree with the dress as well the new material polo shirts are light weight, comfortable and stylish. Track love track pride.

    • r-kroetch

      Dont know how the rules may vary across the nation so Im confused here
      1 seed sets in lane 4
      , 2 in 5,
      3 in 6,
      4 in 3,
      5 in 7
      , 6 in 2
      , 7 in 8
      and 8 in 1

  • Coach

    Coach Thomas I really enjoyed the “Your fired video”. You put out a lot of relevant and true facts. I had a runner that was ranked in the nation and moved up to another bracket this year. He ran the 400m in indoor and had one of the top times coming into the indoor championship meet. However he ended up in the 9th lane I’m sure because of coaches putting in false seed times. When I mentioned it to my head coach he said well the 1st three top runners get preferences, then it is random draw. I have been around track all of my life and I observed the process and found in every heat all of my runners ended up in the 9th lane. I am educated and understand the probability of ending up in the 9th lane repeatedly. I still smell the foul odor of what happened to those young runners that earned the right of those center lanes. I love the video. Let’s keep it real. And keep it clean this is not old Mafia fixed events. It’s just innocent hard working kids trying to have fun.

  • Brian

    Wow, I thought we were the only ones in Louisiana going those you fired. Lol!!

  • Lion Power

    Latif,
    Good stuff again. There are so many dishonest people in the coaching profession. How about turning your high jumper in at a foot higher than they jump in an invite. It is all one flight. People who lie in the 4 x 800 when there is one heat. Latest one,is a coach who turns in a slower time to be in a lane inside of you. At a state qualifying meet a coach complained that they were in Lane 6 and another school was in Lane 3 with a better time. The team in lane 3 was going to pull two of their kids from the relay to run another event.

  • K.B.

    Latif how about firing any current official who worked any meet featuring Jesse Owens or Bruce Jenner? Lastly, how about firing the person who sold you those glasses?

  • http://www.quincytrackclub.wordpress.com Geoff Hennessy

    Latif. I love you man!!!

  • Illinois

    @ r-kroetch – Yes, this young lady qualified in the 100 & 200 on natural ability, and definitely not her schools training im sure. I talked to several coaches in the area, and she has run a qualifying time in the 400 and good enough time to make the state finals, but her schools decided to take her out of the open 400, to run a 4×4 that qualified and then decided to take her out of the relay for the biggest meet of the year. What real coach would do something like that? I hope her father and mother really makes the right choice for her next year. Whether she runs AAU & USATF Club Track only or comes up with another plan to keep her running at a great potential. Its a ______ shame they did that to an athlete of her calibur.

  • r-kroetch

    We have pre-qual standards, if your relay or open event athlete meets this standard ( the average time or diastance of 6th place at your state meet in your event at your level IE -A -B or AA over the last 5 years), your relay or open athlete automaticly has a spot in this years state meet, weather or not you chose to enter THAT relay team in the regional meet your –school –now has a spot on the track at this years state meet” open event pre-quals require THAT athlete. A relay team or open athlete must be entered in the region meet -though does not have to take part region meet and that entry counts as one event for each athlete toward their 4 events”. Often ( and this is the same with all schools) when you get to the state meet you do not have one or more of the athletes used in this pre-qual effort to take part in the Region or State meet. This system seems to favor the smallest schools where 1 athlete has won the state meet for there team IE 1st plc =10 pts per event X 4 events =40 pts = TEAM Champion.Yes this has happened! As well THAT athlete had been used in possibly ALL relay pre-quals, landing several athletes in the state meet with the pre-qual times being entered directly after the meet and no thought as to who will acually run at the Region or State meets.

    These are our state rules and how they are used out here where often 20 or less athletes make up entire team -boys and girls combine -this includes J.H athletes.
    With this system “made up times” seem to get a little blurry?.

  • Mario Gomez

    Latiff,

    Good list to begin with. I guess we are lucky in Texas to be using electronic systems so coaches can’t put in false times and thank goodness we don’t have dual meets, they sound like a nightmare. A nice T-shirt and shorts are acceptable in Texas because of the beautiful southwest weather. Here are a few people within track that I would like to see fired: 1. Coaches who blame you for being successful because you supposedly have all the talent, yet they’re done with practice an hour and half before you’re team is even done, put in the work and stop being lazy! 2. Coaches who haven’t updated their training regimen since their 1st day on the job. Running repeat 200′s every day all season won’t make your team better or faster! Having the same warm up every day of the week bores your kids to death. Attend a few clinics and invest a some products (if you’re smart you’ll invest in Latif’s products.

  • Illinois

    Sprint Coach at 1 Dupage Valley High School. I know they have probably one of the best sprinters in the state, but have no clue on what it takes to train a sprinter, and then the young lady is the reason her 4×4 team qualifies for their state meet, but then is taken off the relay to allow other girls to run that didnt qualify in their individual events. If I were her father or mother, that young lady would not run for that school from this day on and focus on AAU or USATF Track. If her father is on this site, I just want to say” I feel your pain. “

  • Ben Crawford

    I am going to go off on sprint coaches here but I have seen or heard this far too much lately in state of Minnesota.

    Fire coaches that do not have basic understanding of exercise physiology. Stop taxing the same energy system every single day, you are killing their neuromuscular system and that is why every one of your sprinters is either hurt or getting slower.

    Fire sprints coaches that think that anything over 30 seconds of recovery time is too long and not an effective workout.

    Fire sprints coaches that believe in burning out their sprinters during the competitive portion of your season because they thought the sprinters on their team performed poorly at the last meet.

    Fire coaches that think that an entire day should be dedicated strictly to technique, that is 2 solid hours of technique!

    Fire sprints coaches that think that their 100m sprinters need to have a solid base of aerobic work (back to my basic understanding of exercise physiology comment) and send their sprinters on 2-5 mile warm-ups/cool downs/that’s their workout for the day.

    Fire sprints coaches that think if there is one thing wrong with their sprinter’s technique that there is no hope for them and never use them again, not even in JV meets. Teach them, that’s your job!

    Fire coaches that have to run a field event at a conference meet and give their own competitors an unfair advantage with the time limit when they check out to go to a different event. Do not give them a 15 minutes to get back to the event and then another 15 minutes before they have to make their next attempt.

    Fire coaches that continuously change their sprint relays at every single meet. At some point you have had to have solidified who is in your 4×1. If you can’t then do not run a 4×1, that simple.

    Fire coaches that just use the same 15 athletes over and over again and max them out (4 events) at every single meet. You have 80 kids to choose from and you only use the same 15, see a problem with that. You are killing them!

    Fire coaches that tell their athletes that when they are coming out of the blocks that “they should be sprinting out of them.” It is called “Accelerating” it is not suppose to be a sprint out of them. Your car does not just go 90 mph from a stopped position. So why is it any different then for someone that is coming out of the blocks? It’s the same concept genius!

    Fire anybody in the state of Minnesota that decided that we should have the 16 & 32 on separate days for the Section & State Championships. Why do they get an advantage over every other event? Why just for those 2 large meets do we all of the sudden need to change the format of a state high school track meet? That just does not make sense to me. For that matter fire anybody that thinks that we should be running the 16 & 32, when we should be running the 15 & 30.

    I could go off on some more but I will just leave it at that. Thank you

  • Dutch

    I’m not a “qualified” starter but am asked for (and the only paid person) at large meets for English-speaking schools in The Netherlands and when they host the NECIS Championships. The meets run on time or even a couple of minutes ahead…if they want. I keep the kids relaxed, smile, help with blocks and the meets are a blast. Rarely does anyone false start because of all this, either. By the way, I’m approaching “crotchety” in age. ;)

  • Tia Mei

    Coach, that was great. Glad somebody finally said what needs to be said.

    I have one continuing beef with JHS & HS coaches and JHS & HS invitationals; i.e they won’t allow kids who don’t run for a school team to compete in meets. We have a club in the NYC area that caters to kids who attend JHSs & HSs without T&F programs, or attend schools where the sport is underfunded & not taken seriously. In many city schools now, there just isn’t money for sports, or the school just directs funding into 1 or 2 sports (generally basketball & football).
    This year, we have two kids who were in the final eight in last year’s (AAU or USATF) national finals, but their school has a program where the “coach” (using the term loosely) told me that he dosen’t hold more than two days of practice per week, and won’t even teach obvious things- like how to use blocks and proper running technique, because the “school” isn’t interested in T&F.
    So these Club kids miss out competing against some of the best JHS & HS runners- and miss out on gaining extra exposure- because school Coaches would rather protect their turf, and (in my personal opinion) not have to watch our Club Team athletes make their training (and approach) look bad. Its a real disservice to all the kids.

  • matt

    Coaches that do not practice 4×1 handoffs and leave teams with elite talent on the outside looking in.

  • Denise Taylor

    Loved the shout out to Jeff!! He is one of our faves! Next Friday if you could fire the coaches who think they are the exception to the rule of “no coaches in the infield/jumping areas” during the invitational meets, that would be awesome! We ALL would love to have access to our kids too… And also fire those who don’t play well w others….when they insist on causing scenes and embarrass themselves and we other coaches in front of our athletes and parents!, after all, WE are the adults… And it is our JOB to exemplify good sportsmanship in our kids! Thanks!! Keep doing what you’re doing Latif!!!

    • http://www.quincytrackclub.wordpress.com Geoff Hennessy

      @Denise Taylor: Who are you? But thanks anyway.
      Geoff

  • Rob

    You should fire distance coaches who shout splits at kids followed by “too slow”. My ultimate pet peeve. Let them race- not time trial. If you wanted to time trial you could have stayed home but you showed up to race- so let them race instinctively.

    • r-kroetch

      @Rob: We may not know why these ( pace calls) are being done. Often or at least sometimes, injured runners are working to return to full , and a ?? maybe smart coach? is using your meet to help in that process rather than leave that athlete home to “train” on their own. Pace work are used to help distance athletes progress.( The little meets between day one and championships are all prep)- don’t you agree? I often find the athlete who has used each and every chance to knowlingly progress- as just that, is so very excited and pleased when The RACES count most.

    • Chris D

      Coaches who don’t understand why you yell “too slow”!! If you have have a plan in place for a race and your pushing for a certain time, then you kinda need to know how to pace!!@Rob:

  • Jake

    You should fire discus coaches who only show up once every few weeks. It’s ridiculous that they expect their kids to get better without any instruction.

  • coach g3

    Latif,
    LOL!
    Everything you commented on is so true. Each year I get into a discussion with a track starter and/or official about grumpy old mostly men starters who yell at the athletes instead of speaking civil with the kids. Every year there’s something that is ludicrous! I love track and field and they treat it so stepchildish! If we can somehow appreciate it like the Europeans do…or like our big four sports(basketball,football,baseball and hockey) there would be less immaturity. Other than dress, everything else seems to be an integrity, character and ego problem. People will always be people…wish we could just walk up to them, stick our hand out and have them give us their starters gun or stopwatch and just say “You’re fired”! Keep up the great posts…Track forever!

  • http://www.eteamz.com/mustangtrackclub/ coach777b

    Latif:
    I’m still laughing. Come to CT and fire all the coaches who suit up and run laps, checking their wristwatch), embarassing their team. Fire the 5K &2K runners who coach by making their entire team run 2+ miles for a daily warmup. That includes sprinters, jumpers and throwers. Fire all the officials in the jumps especially, who tell each athlete what he did wrong in his jump. Fire all the coaches who teach their team that to be winners, you can’t have friends on opposing teams. And last but not least, in New England fire the officials who stick to running the 1600m and 3200m races instead of the internationally recognized 1500m and 3000m.

  • Chrystal Crawley

    Great job firing the people that needed it, but I would like to add someone to the list; coaches that have no clue about Track and Field. I have experienced a coach that barely knows anything about coaching 2-3 of the events of the sports and he is the head coach with little or no coaching staff. Also fire the coache that asks for coaching assistance and then rejects help because they are afraid they will not shine. The athletes suffers because of this personal lack of knowledge and jealousy. If you are not into the sport for the child/ student athlete then you need to be fired. “It is NOT about YOU!!!!”

  • Alan Nakasone

    Liked the video. Had disagreement with the dress issue. To me, depends on your environment. In Hawaii, we are a lot more informal. Many coaches dress In shorts and polo or T-shirts. Most wear. Athletic shoes, some wear slippers (flip flops on the continent).
    some are also quite good coaches

  • Eric Simpson

    Hi Latif
    Enjoyed your rant . Sorry about the “scruffy coach” I tend to be one. As a volunteer coach putting in maybe 30-35 hours a week with young athletes I tend to to be on the move all the time. I do tidy up for meets but my wife and athletes tend to think I am not the most satorial coach around. Now how about firing officials /N.G.B.s who make grandiose plans for OUR sport and NEVER follow through. When there is a success it is all about what a great job WE have done and if it falls down its all down to THE COACH . I’m not sure if it is the same the world over but in the UK it is. Finish on a POSITIVE the best officials in the world are in Scotland their motto is “We are here for the athletes”

  • Matt

    You know, watching this video literally made my Day.
    In the last 3 weeks of this season, my Team has experienced ALL THREE OF THESE.

    However, let me add something as well!
    Ridiculous, uneducated, unruly FIELD EVENT COACHES.
    I was at a County meet overseeing my long jumpers when the over-seeing Official gave two scratches to individuals who did NOT AT ALL SCRATCH. It’s like these coaches these days have absolutely NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING.

    And While I’m at it, I was at ANOTHER meet that used an UNOFFICIAL STARTER. He had no indication of his status as a Certified official, would not answer if he held the necessary credentials and seemed to have no true knowledge of what he was doing other than firing a gun.

    Also, Coaches that run Hurdle events and have NO idea what height the hurdles should be SET at. One of my 300 LH runners lost a County race because the Staff running the meet couldn’t get the Hurdles on the CORRECT HEIGHT.

    To sum it up – UNEDUCATED COACHES AND OFFICIALS.

  • Wilson

    Please fire all coaches, officials, and parents that tell kids to “get off the mat” when the bar is wiggling on the high jump standard. I’m a jumps coach- my daughter is a Jr. High jumper, and at EVERY meet we attended this year there were kids being told to “get off the mat.” There is NO rule about getting off the mat before the bar falls- AT ANY LEVEL. I have seen this at high school meets, summer AAU track meets and have even had college athletes that I had to convince that the rule did not exist. Is not a rule- to my knowledge has never been a rule- but people will swear that it is. Please pass the word to call coaches, athletes and parents so we can stop this madness. (Hopefully where you’re from it is not an issue, but it is here in the midwest). Thanks for hearing my rant!

  • Matt

    Coaches that try to rush through dual meets (e.g. “Let’s just run 10 in this heat of the 400 since they won’t break in anyway”, or “Do we need to record their times since they weren’t top 3?”) Coaches that don’t take the time to maintain their long jump pits (and then proceed to look at you like you have eight heads when you ask for a shovel so you can turn the pit). Coaches that would rather give you the points for 400 hurdles than take the time to set them up for you when you run at their school. Officials that give false information (e.g. trying to DQ a 4×100 team for correctly using the acceleration zone). Coaches that don’t take the time to bring their elite (I’m talking sub 15 hurdlers) athletes to invitationals to prepare for big meets and give them extra exposure to college coaches. Distance coaches that run the same athletes in the two mile dual meet after dual meet, every single dual meet. Coaches that are unwilling to adapt to change within the sport. Okay, I should probably stop.

  • http://www.maxtacademy.org Geoff Bradley

    Yessir get ‘em outta here!
    Let me add (since you touched on it ever so briefly) track meet length. Since they are as long as they are and certain things just take time, put distance on a day, field events on a day, sprints on a day. (My son looked at me like I’d grown 2 extra heads) Either do something about how the meets are run or J u s t S t o p W H I N I N G !!!!

  • Patrick

    SEED TIME LIARS! Thank you for firing these people! at our conference meet it was so bad that the true top three kids were in heat 1 of 3 for the 100 prelims. The one kid seeded third didn’t even make finals! These coaches should work harder not be dishonest!

  • Mike

    I agree with u on everything u mentioned. In ur next firing session, please fire coaches that speak inappropriately to kids during practice and most importantly during a meet; that’s the worst form of coaching/teaching. I was at a track meet two weeks ago and I witnessed this coach using profanity and telling a child that “he was a whimp and he should take his scary butt (a–) home because he sucked and will come in last because he won’t work). Coaches/teachers are here to encourage and motivate, not tear the ventricles of their hearts out. Anyway, it’s super inappropriate and shouldn’t happen at any lever; especially little kids. Put those coaches on blast and fire them. Thanks for the response to my last post and I will be jumping on ur DVD’s for speed training, but I would like to know if u r planning on coming west at all to hold a camp/clinic?

  • AC

    Latif-
    An Addendum:
    Fire the coaches that yell and call out their athletes on things they have not taught and/or things that they have never done.

  • AC

    Latif:
    Please add this to the list of coaches to be fired:
    Coaches that brag about the Championships they have won when their athletes run faster in 9th and 10th grade than they do in their 11th and 12th grade seasons!. The actually get slower and injured the longer they stay in their program. Big problem where I live here in Maryland!

  • Coach Dufour

    Latif – right on the money. But you missed one!

    My biggest thing that I hate is at track meets, especially Indoor, happens when there aren’t enough officials to run the meet. That isn’t what bothers me though, what bothers me is when they ask for some coaches to help time the dash, or help with a relay exchange zone, or to just help remove the hurdles from the track. Every year it’s the same coaches who step up and I hate it when I see some coaches doing all the work and some just sitting on the side line, literally sitting. If you can’t coach your team and move a hurdle 10 feet, guess what?

  • Tremayne Peppers

    You just fired 85% of the AAU coaches in Ohio…. STOP LYING ON YOUR SEED TIMES!!!!! And stop dressing like slobs! Great job Latif, hopefully all these people watch Episode 1 of YOUR FIRED!

    • http://www.elite513track.com Kim Newman

      @Tremayne Peppers:

      Tremayne you said a mouth full, I look at the seed times every week and go when did this kid run that??? its bad when you have a kid that is the fastest in the state but when you put his correct seed time in he is seeded 3rd or 4th.and the kids seeded above him have never beat him. Why do it?

  • Erik Rokeach

    Definitely fire the coaches who come in and think its cool to teach their kids that it’s ok to pull dirty tricks when they run. . Also fire the coaches who act all loud and tough and bully officials and coaches from other schools.

  • Mark Wukas

    I wanna fire shot judges who give their guys a few extra inches on placement, especially indoors, because it builds their athletes’ self-esteem.

  • Steven Beary

    Latif –

    Right on, and not just for track and field, but for all youth sports !

    Bottom line, kids naturally look to coaches and meet officials as “authority figures” – consequently, coaches and officials all have a responsibility to the generation(s) coming behind them to demonstrate behavior that provide positive, respectful examples. Not only will the kids benefit socially, and culturally, from being in a consistently positive environment, they will have more fun, and likely perform better without the cognitive dissonance created by being involved in behavior that they know to be wrong.

    After all, most kids who participate in youth sports will NOT become professional athletes, but every single kid who participates in youth sports will be impacted for the rest of their life by their experiences in youth sports. Let’s give them the best chance possible !

  • John Ryan Tillman

    Coaches who do not study new techniques and have their sprinters, jumpers, and throwers in the weightroom. I love CS2 I wish I could see your practice plans for athletes who are jumpers and sprinters, or sprinters and throwers.

  • Joyce Stevens

    Great video! Just be professional!

  • http://yourpathpersonaltraining.com LIsa B

    I want to fire the meet officials who were in charge of continuing to run our State Track Championships in severe weather. There was a storm that blew up late in the afternoon, and when they resumed the meet after an hour and a half rain delay, the winds were so bad that they damaged the grandstands. Officials made the decision evacuate all the spectators from the grandstands. They would not even allow the spectators to *stand* in front of the grandstands by the finish line. But they kept running the events in the same area, only 6 inches away from the area that was “too dangerous” for people to occupy. So how exactly is it too dangerous for the coaches stand by the finish line, but it isn’t too dangerous for the athletes to run there? I understand all about schedules, and it’s the State Championship meet, and they have to get the Prelims done for the next day’s Finals- but it’s either too dangerous or it’s not. Make up your mind, and make a call that’s at least logically consistent. You’re fired.

  • Brian S

    Can we fire the pole vault official who changes the rules despite presenting him the meet entry form with the opening heights. Seriously who starts the bar at a novice meet as the same as the Varsity athletes (10 instead of 8) and then says to “move the meet along” we’ll raise the bar 9 inches instead of 6! Yeah that dude needs to be fired!

  • Cynthia Fairchild

    Coach Latif you have done it again!! My sides are aching from laughing! Everyone fired today was from our team…our coach fits every category and our officials here in northern New Jersey babysat Joseph and Mary before they even met…love ..love..love..everyone of your video’s..

  • Brandon Murphy

    Never a more true words were spoken. Especially about the seed times and officials!

  • http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/ Clarence Gaines

    Nice article on trackmom.com about Seed Times – “Whole Lies Out Of Half Truths:”
    http://trackmom.com/2011/05/31/seed-times-whole-lies-out-of-half-truths/

  • Coach Seymour

    Please fire coaches who enter athletes in too many events. If the limit is 4 then abide by it. Because its not like other coaches font see it.

  • http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/ Clarence Gaines

    As soon as I saw the e-mail I started laughing. Always love the “you’re fired” videos. LOL!