Pages: | 1 | 2 |
new coach
Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 3:14PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hey everyone. I'm recently got a position as the girls middle school (7-8th grade) track coach. Right now I have the training phased out into 4 phases.

Phase 1 - base (3 weeks)
Phase 2 - Speed, LT, VO2max (3 weeks)
Phase 3 - VO2max, speed, LT (3 weeks)
Phase 4 - "sharpening" (2 weeks)
* Phases 2-3 are structured based on Daniels with the first emphasis (speed, for example, in Phase 2) being quality 1, second quality 2, and third being maintenance; obviously I won't have them doing 3 workouts each week since they have meets twice per week so it would end up being one workout per week with the remaining days being easy runs

Is this too structured for middle school track? How would you structure the season?

Also, I've been unsure on how much to make them run each day because I'm afraid on starting them out too fast. The first week I've had the distance girls do two 10 min runs with a 5 min rest in between. Everything has been easy runs. I want to start adding striders in the 3rd week. How would you increase the amount of time each week? Any feedback would be appreciated.
who knows
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 4:07PM - in reply to new coach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Middle School just try to have them running 5 days a week and enjoying it. Nothings gets kids excited about running more than learning about VO2max which I think I learned about when I started running in college. Our middle school program was the best in our area and we maybe ran a 1.5 miles a day. Mixing in some games of sharks and minnows and other stuff like that. We had a few 5 flat guys or just under in the 1600 off of that. It doesn't take much at that age. Its all about getting them running and having fun. The rest will come. Maybe you find a few that could use more and you add a little here and there but having phases and v02max and that stuff seems more for high schoolers. But your way might be fine.
W
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 4:21PM - in reply to new coach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Some periodization is appropriate. However, for the most part middle school track just needs to be about laying the foundation for the future. Focus on teaching track basics, training basics and getting generally fit.

When I coached middle school we had 80-90 minute long practices. After a warm-up, practice was split into 20 minute segments, then there was a cool-down. It's important that you keep them focused. By changing activities every 20 mins they will stay interested. The warm-up was simple (a little jogging, some dynamic exercises, etc..). The typical practices was something like this... first 20 mins was focused on mechanics (drills, form, etc..). The next 20 mins was event specific (distance run, intervals, etc..), then the last 20 mins was strength training (body weight exercises). You could change the segment lengths. Maybe 15 mins on form, 30 mins event specific and 15 mins on strength. The cool-down was a little jogging or walking and stretching. We did technical work for field events at the end. The throwers had a different practice from start to finish.

You'll do the kids a big favor for the future by working on form a lot. As a middle school coach you have the opportunity to set them up for a lot of success by improving form at this age while it's still possible to make a big difference. The drills and general strength training will be big. With their running stay general, have longer recoveries between intervals. Don't run them so hard that their form breaks down.

Also, talk to the high school coaches they will be with later. Make sure you're using the same lingo, teaching the same drills, etc.. This way the transition is smoother to high school.

If you have a special kid (the sub 5 min guy for example) then change things up for them. But don't forget it's just middle school track so keep it fun.
new coach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 4:26PM - in reply to who knows Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Did you start off running 1.5 mpd at the beginning of the season and run the same amount the entire season? Right now we are limited to running the halls inside so we've been doing runs as I mentioned before and playing a game or two at the end of practice. We don't have any mats or the equipment or facilities to really work on any field events until the weather gets better. So you would recommend just doing basic easy aerobic runs the entire season? I would imagine that would get boring for them doing the same thing day after day.

(About my previous post: I didn't mean I was going to have them do hardcore workouts like a high school team would. I was just showing how I would like to break the season up based on training emphasis. I was thinking about just adding the simple speedwork. The races would replace the VO2max and LT stuff I put in the phases.)

I know the main purpose for middle school track is for them to get a taste of the sport and enjoy it, but I also want to give the 8th graders a little experience and begin to get them "ready" for JV/varsity next year.

Keep the feedback coming. I appreciate all of the feedback and opinions.
MSCoach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 4:39PM - in reply to who knows Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

who knows wrote:

Middle School just try to have them running 5 days a week and enjoying it. Nothings gets kids excited about running more than learning about VO2max which I think I learned about when I started running in college. Our middle school program was the best in our area and we maybe ran a 1.5 miles a day. Mixing in some games of sharks and minnows and other stuff like that. We had a few 5 flat guys or just under in the 1600 off of that. It doesn't take much at that age. Its all about getting them running and having fun. The rest will come. Maybe you find a few that could use more and you add a little here and there but having phases and v02max and that stuff seems more for high schoolers. But your way might be fine.


I've been coaching middle school track and xc for 7 years after coaching high school for 5. The answer, OP, falls somewhere between the idea above and your original post. I'd say 5-6th grade "sharks and minnows" and 1.5 mile runs are fine. By 7-8th grade the training needs to be a little more intentional.

Being highly structured is necessary for the coach, not necessarily for the middle schooler. I usually set up a similar program as you stated and work off Daniels' because it's simple and I can adjust it easily. The kids don't really need to know everything you're doing BUT as they progress (by 8th grade) and become more involved, start teaching them about some of the basic training modalities. Explain how you set up their training, make sure they know the terminology, and they should have a basic understanding of nutrition, sleep, and hydration. Some will be able to digest it, others not so much.

My only goal is to make sure they are ready to contribute in high school. I want them to know what's going when they talk to their high school coach. I'd also make sure you enable a smooth transition into their high school program by having contact with their new coach and even set up training to transition into their summer preseason training in 9th grade. The more prepared they are, the better chance they have in high school. I constantly tell myself, and them, you don't win gold medals and set world records in middle school. You begin the journey to those medals and WR's in middle school and that is just as important.
MSCoach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 4:48PM - in reply to new coach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
We started 3 weeks ago. 8th graders are running 3 30 min. easy runs per week (slow pace, maybe 8:30/mi. for the fastest group), 1 longer run (35-45 min.), and 1 short tempo (15 min. with 5 min. warmup and down). 18-20 miles a week. They'll hit 25-28 at the most, drop down to peak in late April and then during May-June build up to 30-35 in preparation for their high school camps in July and August (they go to different schools; we are K-8).
new coach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 4:54PM - in reply to MSCoach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Do you coach boys or boys and girls, and are the 8th graders boys or girls? I only coach the girls and am working with the distance. What did you have them start out running? I'm assuming you've built up to the 3 30 min easy runs per week over the 3 weeks.
Middleschl
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 5:18PM - in reply to new coach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
No no no no no! Look my middle school track program was and still is the best in our league of (150 schools) for 25 Years running and we only had 3 practices a week not including races. Those practices would all be workouts, but before the workout we would jog a mile as warm up then walk a mile, but do strides on the backstretch and various skipping type exercises on the other strait. This would build base speed as a sprinter. Then we split up into groups and that would determine our workout. Throwers do 1 or 2 with sprinters then go throw. Sprinters do short workouts the most ever being a 200 and distance would do longer workouts the shortest being a 400. 400/800 guys would often be asked to switch groups depending on the day or race ahead of them. More than that though there was a huge emphasis on basic running tips that may be second nature to you, proper form handoffs and running all the way through the line. Also a huge emphasis on the unit of the team. Look I hate to say it but in middle school winning isn't worth shit. It's your job to produce team player athletes who know how to race and love their team. And despite the training if you produce those kind of athletes who truly love the sport, they will win whether now or later on.
MSCoach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 7:26PM - in reply to Middleschl Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Just workouts? 3 x a week and that's it? What did the distance team do? Did they do any aerobic base? I'm interested in how this works. 3 workouts a week seems excessive for a 6-8th grader. But if it works for you, it works. I've had great success with the distance runners simply building their aerobic base and adding more intense workouts as the season progresses.

And that's a really big "league". What state are you in?

OP, my earlier post was about the boys and girls. 8th grade girls and boys are pretty similar athletically. The boys haven't quite sprouted (heart hasn't grown, still uncoordinated but gaining strength) and the girls have been ahead for a couple years.
Your Next Bold Move
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 7:49PM - in reply to new coach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I would say wayyy too structured for middle school. Like someone else mentioned, just keep them running every day and enjoying it. There is no reason that they can't do a little of the stuff you mentioned, just so they have an idea of what it will be like when they're in hs- but keep it light and fun too!
Try having them play frisbee or capture the flag once or twice during the season as "surprise" workout days- it'll keep them running, work on leg turnover and agility and they'll go home having had a blast.
And remember, these are middle school girls we're talking about
W
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 7:58PM - in reply to Your Next Bold Move Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Track practice can be fun without having to play non-track games. Don't cater to the back end of the team. Design practice for the talent and the kids who love track, not for the kids who are only there because there parents need free day care. Games are for recess. Track practice just needs to be presented and structured better so kids buy in.
MSCoach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 8:11PM - in reply to W Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

W wrote:

Track practice can be fun without having to play non-track games. Don't cater to the back end of the team. Design practice for the talent and the kids who love track, not for the kids who are only there because there parents need free day care. Games are for recess. Track practice just needs to be presented and structured better so kids buy in.


YES
all depends
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 8:22PM - in reply to W Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Practices should be FUN for middle schooler--bottom line. Now the question is how do you get the work done while allowing them to engage in fun activities. I think this depends on the maturity of the program. If the overall program is established thenumbers are good and their is a tradition of excellence at the high school level then the middle school program will be more structure to get athletes ready. On the other hand, if your school has no tradition in place and/or has a bad turnout or drop rate each season then the something more geared toward fun should be the priority. Therefore, it will depend program to program on how to cater to your athletes. Each athlete, team and school district is different. Cater to yours..
MSCoach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 9:10PM - in reply to all depends Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

all depends wrote:

Practices should be FUN for middle schooler--bottom line. Now the question is how do you get the work done while allowing them to engage in fun activities. I think this depends on the maturity of the program. If the overall program is established thenumbers are good and their is a tradition of excellence at the high school level then the middle school program will be more structure to get athletes ready. On the other hand, if your school has no tradition in place and/or has a bad turnout or drop rate each season then the something more geared toward fun should be the priority. Therefore, it will depend program to program on how to cater to your athletes. Each athlete, team and school district is different. Cater to yours..



Here's the problem. How do you change that bad turnout/drop rate? If you accept the fact that you will have a small team at first and require a standard of excellence, you will produce high school ready, well prepared athletes. The kids you're looking for will recognize the value and the numbers will come. If you play games and cater to the masses that want to play around and not learn, you make it a bunch of games and fun, NOT a track team. They hit high school and the coach has a mess on his hands, a bunch of kids who have no clue and just want to play ultimate all afternoon.

The fun approach is fine and I think it does need to be fun. But there is a time and place for fun and that's after the work is done. There must be a concerted effort from the coach to recognize when it's time to have fun. However, all fun and no work and you get athletes that don't know what it takes to become great. It won't work in the long run and it won't produce consistently competent and high school ready athletes. If there is a clear delineation between practice and having fun as a team, the expectations of the coach are clear and the team will understand that the coach is serious and there is a standard to be held to.

They will respect the coach that expects something of them more than one who caters to their desire to have fun.
W
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 10:09PM - in reply to MSCoach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

MSCoach wrote:

a bunch of games and fun, NOT a track team.


This ^

If you play a bunch of games just to keep your numbers high in the beginning how do you change the culture of the team once you're ready to start doing track? I think the "games" coaches would be surprised how positively kids will react to being treated like real athletes. Middle schoolers are at a stage in their life where they want to be treated like teenagers, not like kids. They are still kids so they go goofy things. However, treat them like real athletes, like teenagers, and they'll respond. You adjust the real athlete like training for their age group but you do real athlete things. If you don't establish discipline from day one you'll never get it.
???afoehasappeared???
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/12/2011 10:22PM - in reply to W Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
cba to read all the other posts, but our coach had us do a few things, never a big run.
Like one was out and back to a shed (maybe like 1mi total)
Then some rest and a suicide on every 10 yard line of the football field. Then maybe these things where you run dow na hill, make a small loop (150m?) and back up the hill, do 30 sit ups/ pushups/whatever. OR we raced aroudn the baseball field 1vs1 and the lsoer had to run an extra lap, but it wasnt extra competative, and the coach would sometimes pit a really good guy vs a not so good one and yell go, then physically hold the good kid back for a while before letting him go.
Middleschl
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/13/2011 12:32AM - in reply to MSCoach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
the most base the distance team ever did were fairly quick 5k's on the track while sprinters worked out, i guess to consolidate practice to one location. as for the state Pennslyvania, the archdioscease of Philadelphia (270 parishes). though not all have a team.


MSCoach wrote:
Just workouts? 3 x a week and that's it? What did the distance team do? Did they do any aerobic base? I'm interested in how this works. 3 workouts a week seems excessive for a 6-8th grader. But if it works for you, it works. I've had great success with the distance runners simply building their aerobic base and adding more intense workouts as the season progresses.

And that's a really big "league". What state are you in?

OP, my earlier post was about the boys and girls. 8th grade girls and boys are pretty similar athletically. The boys haven't quite sprouted (heart hasn't grown, still uncoordinated but gaining strength) and the girls have been ahead for a couple years.
no one
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/13/2011 12:43PM - in reply to all depends Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
what "all depends" said ... some basic non coaching coaching things:

1. Talk to the schools girls PE teacher(s) - get an idea about who they would rcommend giving it a chance

2. Try to get some 'leaders' (yes-popular) girls to participate.

3. Have a bar-b-que at beginning of season - at one of the parents houses.

4. Touch base with EVERY kid EVERY day. Try to spend as much time with your slower compared to faster girls. Your slower girls may be your faster ones next year or ...

5. Run with them (if you can) - alternate between slow and faster ones. Easy on your legs etc.

6. Take them to or encourage them to go to a high school meet or 2 or 3

7. Introduce them to the HS stars.

8. Don't take things all that seriously when things don't go as planned.

9. and and and and
MSCoach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/13/2011 1:36PM - in reply to no one Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
This ^^^ is part of the fun stuff that works and builds their confidence and their confidence in you as their coach. All good stuff.
new coach
RE: Middle School Track Training 3/14/2011 9:45AM - in reply to new coach Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I currently have them running 10 min easy, 5 min rest, 10 min easy. What are the advantages of doing it this way compared to a straight 20 min run? What way would be better? Also, how much time would you recommend adding each week to that? 5 min per day?
Pages: | 1 | 2 |