We were just here a couple weeks ago, (320 mile, 5 1/2 hour drive) watching Day 3 of the US Olympic trials: mens/womens 400m finals, mens 100m semis-then-final, womens pole vault finals, womens discus finals, mens shotput finals, and the mens long jump finals.
We had great seats right in front of the finish line…my daughter was totaly engrossed in every second of every race, she didn’t take her eyes off the track/field for hours it seemed…it had a huge impact on her watching her hero’s down on the track…up close and in person.
The “Track City Classic” track meet was last July 14-15 in Eugene, OR at the same track…Hayward Field. My daughter was so stoked to run on the same track as she just saw her idols run on weeks earlier.
This was a great meet, with athletes from all over the country, but mostly from the Northwest.
My daughter ran well, especially considering how late in the season this is, and her earlier training issues.
There is a new track club, coached by a “rival” high school sprint coach whom I’ve talked with quite a few times that would like my daughter to join his club. It would be something she and I would be interested in, except the town they live in is 90 miles away… we have talked about it a few times and still might consider it next season.
Anyways, after watching her run in this video (I posted it on my facebook, which he is on my friendlist) this coach sent me a somewhat strange message, here is a part of it:
“Next high school season, I look forward to watching her compete on a very high level, I also look forward to my athletes competing against her. In my opinion, she is very talented for her age but I will train my athletes to take advantage of her weakness which I won’t disclose to you as I’m sure you understand. (smile)”
She will be in the 10th grade this Fall and just turned 15, 2 weeks ago.
Here is the same video he watched of her running in the Girls Intermediate (15/16) 400m final, she is in lane 4:
Very weird interaction. Maybe he’s pissed off he couldn’t recruit her. Nothing stands out from the video as being a weakness to me, and I coach highschool sprinters also. She looked sluggish on the 2nd curve, but might have gone out slightly too fast.
Rich, I can understand your desire for your daughter to do well, but she is 15. There is no need to get caught up in the bush league antics that permeate high school track and field.
I realize it is difficult for parents to separate themselves from the kind of BS that occurs when adults pollute kids athletics, but there is no “weakness” to speak of. The guy is a loser, and he’s trying to play mind games with you. Ignore him, he is a bush league coach and has exposed himself as such with his pathetic interaction with you.
We have discussed this before- I think the only weakness is an unwillingness to focus on competing against herself for the time being, and forget about the competitors in her races. Lowering her 100 and 200 metre time is important for improving future performances at all distances, not worrying where she places in races at 400 and 800 metres NOW- junior races that frankly don’t matter at all. You are the coach, and I think your guidance toward a longer term approach is needed here.
As a case in point, my athlete has raced seven times this year, and has set six personal bests. He is focused, motivated, and thrilled with his results- and hasn’t won a SINGLE race. I think you should encourage here to leave “running to win / place / show” to the professionals competing for a prize purse, and focus on improving her speed, especially since you know the track programs in your area will not do this during the high school season.
I waited to reply…hopefully thinking your reply might change…but it didn’t…
As you already know, my daughter had an upsetting season with her schools track team…her sprint times were horrible and after finally going to the AD about how she was being treated, she was allowed to race in her “event”.
The summer track was for “FUN”…I let my daughter dictate what events she wanted to compete in…as you said, she just turned 15 and she CHOSE the events she wanted to race in…
So what if it’s not “perfect” for her training" she had a crappy season with crappy “controlling” coaches who did nothing but slow her down…she did her thing, and did well…
Sometimes…summer is for fun…
Your response really was something I did not expect…
Sorry if I was not tactful enough in my comments. I do really think the coach you interacted with is an idiot, with his cryptic claims to exploit “weakness”. That is exactly the kind of stuff I hate about developmental coaches. They start taking themselves too seriously, and then it just turns into a big mess.
I am genuinely hopeful that you both continue to enjoy track. It’s good that she ran for fun this summer, no question. The fact that you base family vacations around it is cool, but I think it bears mentioning that there will exist some implied pressure to continue this tradition into the future.
I would stand by stating that it doesn’t matter where she places in races. This kind of over-focus on results that classically appears in youth sports can easily blind a parent and youth athlete, and I’m not trying to be a jerk by bringing this up, it’s a real concern. You’re a good guy, and your daughter is a fine racer, but it’s easy to get caught up in the winning, losing, and rivalries in youth athletics (as the moron coach you encountered so brilliantly showed) and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Here’s my example. When I was growing up, I played ice hockey, while my friends in the neighborhood didn’t have this opportunity. Despite this fact, I was consistently one of the worst street hockey players in my neighborhood. Instead of playing creatively and with “joy”, I would have to revert to a very boring, defensive style of play to be able to hang with my friends on the street, which is of course the style I learned playing organized hockey. Thinking back, what they were teaching me in organized hockey was how to “win”, but there was little focus on the base athleticism that would allow me to turn first into a good overall athlete (adding speed, strength, power) which would then allow to better use the sport-specific technical skills I was being taught.
I never went anywhere in hockey- it actually ended up turning me off what is a really beautiful game. I’ve seen this happen to literally thousands of kids in my job as an elementary Phys Ed teacher, and it’s very frustrating to watch. It’s easy for parents to get caught up in the competitiveness of youth tournaments, playoffs, etc. that matter very little in the grand scheme of things. Last year, I even witnessed a 10 year old’s family move clear across the city leaving behind friends and family so that their daughter who is a provincially ranked 10 year old tennis player could focus on intense training. This particular child is among the five worst athletes in her grade- very little speed, and poor gross motor movement co-ordination. How is she going to fare once the better athletes catch up to her skill with the racquet? I don’t think very well.
Now you said yourself that the reason she decided to longer races was that she typically does better in them. It’s this focus on comparing yourself against peers as a very young athlete that is the reason I bring this up. She is a great racer- but being the best tactician and most fearless kicker will not be enough in a couple of years if the athletic base isn’t adequately developed. I question the appropriateness of focusing on how you rank against others performances at this stage. I am suggesting that focusing on personal development is more important, as everyone develops at different rates as an early teen of course, thus making meaningful comparisons at a single point in time very difficult.
Hey, maybe I’m overreacting- you of course are the ultimate judge because you are the coach and mentor, but I did put thought into these comments and even if you totally disagree, I hope you realize that I take you seriously. I just wanted to address what are seen by many as important topics. I wish you only good luck!
PS If you ever get a chance to check out Greg Hamilton’s film “Mystic Ball”, i think it does a great job of questioning sport and the nature of competitiveness.
I understand your just trying to help and my reply was a little over the top.
My daughter only ran one 800m race and I talked her into concentrating on sprints instead of mixing things up.
Since the day after school track was over, she worked out to the 12 week SPP workout we got from Derek last year…I just used the last 7 weeks, and she had “rest day” the 2 days before each meet.
As far as trying to place high, yes, she is extremely competitive and does her best to win in each race.
But… the main reason we travel to these meets is because she would rather race against athletes much faster than her in a quality meet, and maybe learn something than win every race in the local meets.
She gets very excited when she gets to run against the faster runners.
My daughter gets much more excited about placing 3rd or 4th running a good race against many very good runners than placing 1st running against average runners. In fact, one of her commonly said phrases is “I would rather place last running with the fastest runners, than place 1st against average runners”
The most excited she got this year was at the “BorderDuel” meet toward the end of the school year.
This High School meet has tough minimum qualifications and the top runners from Oregon/Washington/Idaho/Montana.
She didn’t get 1st, or 2nd or 3rd place…she didn’t even get in the top 5…she was in the top 10, but she ran a PR and got to run with some of the best sprinters in the Northwest and had a blast doing it.
There is no pressure whatsoever… in fact, I had to thin the meet list down from what she wanted, for a total of 4 meets, 2 in June and 2 in July, as even what we did do cost more than I should have spent.
She is enjoying the summer also doing many other things…
Believe it or not, she had me order her the Algebra II book she will be using this coming year and studies from it daily, for “fun”, writing down equations and other things she wants to memorize onto index cards… I know… I know…not “normal”… she enjoys learning very much
She is taking a summer Robotics class, which she really enjoys too.
Every week she reads a new/different book.
She plays Viola at school, takes weekly lessons and plays in the Youth Symphony Orchestra all during the past 5 years.
We also do alot of outdoor activities each weekend, kayaking at a local lake, swimming, hiking etc. She is very active in many things… track is just one of her loves.
I know about stressed out kids, I have seen them many times…so many pushed into sports they don’t even like, or feel pressured to perform. I have read about this long ago.
My daughter is a very calm, friendly and relaxed person. She likes to keep busy, but at the same time, is relaxed and sees much in life with humour.
She is often laughing, actually, it doesn’t take much to get her to laugh…she is very well liked at school.
I do know the stress signs of a child who feels pressured to “appease” their parents…my daughter has been an “over achiever” since she was very little, and I know that this can be something that the child “feels” they need to do for love/attention from the parents.
It was great to have this conversation. As a parent, you are of course the ultimate expert as you are managing expectations on a 24 hour 7 day a week basis. It sounds like you have thought about the same issues.
I don’t know what Derek’s SPP looks like, but I’d imagine that it has a fairly strong speed focus.
It will be interesting to see what she can do with her 100m and 200m times this year, and what kind of impact it has on results in longer races.