You Be the Coach

Many of our running partners have sons and daughters running on local high school cross country teams this fall. It’s fun to follow the progress of the 2nd and often 3rd generation kids from running families. It is encouraging to see the kids following the healthy habits of their parents and enjoying the sport.

Running is one of the few high school and college sports that can be a lifelong participant hobby. Most people don’t realize that Cross Country is the largest participative sport in the country at the high school level. It’s easy to have a team as costs are low, you can have a competitive team with only 5 runners, you can train almost anywhere, and both girls and boys can participate.

But many kids leave the sport after their high school experience for various reasons; including time and pressure from college and family commitments. Many find the competitive grind difficult and never equate their running with fun; it becomes work and full of pressure. Many get injuries during cross country season and become frustrated.

We feel it’s the coach and the parents responsibility to emphasize to high school runners that running is not only an individual challenge but it can be a lifelong way to health and well being. Student runners should understand the link between running and health as well as reasons for the types of training they are asked to do. The coach should explain the reasons for speedwork, running hills, gradually increasing distance over the course of the season, running drills, and other workouts they are asked to do.

One issue that always comes up in our discussions is if you were a high school coach would you allow runners to miss practice for other activities? Would you allow runners to run in competition if they miss several practices? Would you allow the talented faster runner that competes in another sport during cross country season to come out and run for the team, even though you have very hard working runners that practice every day that are not as fast?

We may be idealists, but if we were coaching in high school we would let any student run and compete for the top 5 spots, that wanted to. We would want to get as many kids running as possible. An uncertain and slow Freshman or Sophmore, if coached and motivated properly, may become a Senior Star.

High school students should be encouraged to try different things. If someone wants to be in band or math club or student government or drama, and it’s the same time as cross country practice, then make arrangements for the student to run on their own.

We still feel that cross country is an INDIVDUAL sport where the team environment can be extremely motivating in having runners go faster. Training together provides motivation and spirit and improvement but it’s basically an individual sport and improvement and performance is based on internal motivation and desire.

And what about fast talented runners that do other sports or miss practices due to other activities. We say “Let Them Run” in meets if they are faster than those that are practicing every day. In scholastic classes, do teachers on tests, ever make allowances for those that aren’t “intellectually gifted” by giving them extra credit for studying more, even if they do worse on the test?

Success in life and running depends on a combination of talent and hard work. It’s an important lesson that is best learned early.

Purchase The Running Life Book via PayPal button on right sidebar.


  © Blogger template The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP