High School Long Sprints Program Mistakes
By Coach Latif Thomas
The biggest mistake high school long sprints coaches make is wasting time and energy searching for solutions to problems that don’t exist.
You can write the most beautiful annual plan or the most individualized and specific workouts the universe has ever known.
But, if your sprinters secretly hate the 400, fear the 400 and/or don’t possess the level of inner confidence proven to fuel great performances, they’ll still get beat by inferior athletes running inferior workouts who Believe they’re going to run faster.
I’ll be honest:
I don’t excel at writing workouts. I don’t need to. Or try to.
The season is less than three months (and that’s only for your very best runners) of training little kids with low training ages. They don’t need nuanced workout progressions because they’re too inexperienced to absorb or apply that much detail.
The real secret to my High school long sprints program is simple:
I’m good at motivating kids. At developing self confidence. At inspiring them to buy into the program, system and philosophy… hook, line and sinker.
I look at it like this:
Like you, I only have so much time in the day. It means I can’t get to everything I’d like to do.
So I focus on what’s going to get me the most ‘bang for my buck’.
For my money, that’s spending more time studying and applying the ‘Science of Mind’ than the ‘Science of Periodization’.
We all coach for different reasons. But it’s generally a safe bet that near the top of that list is: 1) Help kids, 2) Develop faster long sprinters (200/300/400 runners), 3) Larger numbers of #2
All of which lead to more winning, which, last I checked, is a good time for everyone. So, if you want to experience more of the things I just listed, spend more time refining your system of developing self belief and less time trying to jack workout progressions from coaches whose programs have almost nothing in common with yours.
And remember this:
Since you coach one of the most disrespected and irrelevant sports your school has to offer, you have to think of yourself as a marketer. Because you’re competing against the soccer program, the basketball program, the lacrosse program and the baseball program. Against sports kids have been playing their whole lives.
If you want to grow your numbers, how are you going to compete with the Club Soccer or AAU coach who tells your young athletes that year round soccer or basketball is going to get them noticed by college coaches and scouts?
Or the dad who is reliving his failed baseball career through his son?
Simple. Make their experience on the track team more fun and rewarding. We have a unique opportunity in an individual sport like track and field because each personal best is an individual experience.
The ‘team’ didn’t PR in that 400, ‘I’ PR’d in that 400.
It wasn’t the starting point guard getting the credit while I stood on the wing. I did the work and I got full credit for reaping the full results of that work. It doesn’t matter if that result is winning an All State Championship or breaking 70 for the first time, everyone can take pride in their own individual improvement.
It’s going to take time to cultivate a default ‘I can’ mindset in your young athletes because right now they don’t really believe they can. They might BS you if you ask, but they won’t look you in the eye when they say it. They ‘hope’ to. They ‘want’ to.
But they don’t expect to.
If you want to find the Missing Link to sustained success, improvement and growth in your high school long sprints program, spend the bulk of your energy this season on the Periodization of Expectation.
My process isn’t random. I develop and apply it systematically, the same as I would if teaching acceleration mechanics or an Olympic Lift.
I do and say certain things at certain times in certain ways to certain people based on their current ability to receive and apply the lesson.
It’s a game changer. And the only thing more fun than winning is seeing the look on a kid’s face when you tell them they just achieved their goal time, something they thought was unobtainable just a few months before these changes in your High school long sprints program.