Fluctuations in times for young sprinters.

To the high school coaches on the forum (and I would love to see Charlie chime in as well and relate his experiences with Ben and the other Optimists when they were this age):

How much of a fluctuation do you usually see in practice times and in meets with your athletes? Does it usually get better as the season goes on and is the first meet usually pretty bad because the athletes tighten? Are the fluctuations similiar in training to those in meets or do the athletes usually run more consistently in meets?

Charlie, Pioneer, Viking, DaGovernor, and all the other high school coaches I would love to hear what you guys have to say on this.

There is a fluctuation with the novice high school sprinter with practice and meet times. One reason in my opinion could be because lack of fitness. Another could be the fact that they have not ran enough races and trained long enough to gain any kind of consistency to their performances.

As the season goes on though, they begin to get more consistent, as long as the training is consistent as well. I have an athlete that is a sophomore, and in her first indoor meet this season ran 10 seconds slower that her PR in the 400. But I know as the season goes on, and her training gets more consistent, she’ll be fine. One other reason, at least in this athletes case, was the fact that she ran XC and the distance coach was giving her the wrong kind of training. So maybe her body took time to become acclimated with my training sessions. Thoughts?

I would agree with Dagovenor. Most of our kids run pretty well in the beginning but they really come on towards the end of the season. Our best female sprinter at our school ran 12.44 her first meet of the year and at the state meet ran 12.07 into a decent breeze. Most of our kids that sprint don’t do cross country, they either play football or girls soccer. Our distance kids do xc, but anyone from 400 down we (I) kind of discourage them from running inthe fall. I really don’t buy into the whole “building a base” stuff for sprinters…at least in that mode. As far as consisten between practice and meets, our kids don’t really run anything in practice that would give us a chance to really make any kind of comparison and in our meets they are pretty consistent with the exception of some just simple brainfarts or sickness coming into play.

I don’t know if that really helped. I am in a complete fog and a basket case trying to work through the stuff we are doing now.

good luck!

Pete, what sort of fluctuations do you see between one training session and another?

Up to .6 seconds in 45-55m, but it’s actually within the training session! We use yelling GO! at the finish line and then waiting for it to start and then subtracting a small amount of time for the sound to travel to get a FAT approximation. It seems to be very accurate because even when I see a .05 improvement in 30m if I do 45m and 55m later in the session I will see a proportionally larger improvement. But if I am doing a 55 session that will have a best time of 6.6 FAT approximation I will sometimes go run 1-7.1, run 2-7.0, run 3-7.0, run 4-6.8, run 5-6.6, run 6-6.8, run 7-7.0. Then on other occasions my second or third time will be fastest. Unfortuneately beacuse it’s so cold here and we’ve been having relay meets on weekends I haven’t gotten any times in practice in the past few weeks so I can’t really guess what my curve is going to be like to try to repeat this in a meet.
When I was getting times training sessions were actually pretty consistent in what I would get down to in one point in the training session, usually within .05 of PB and even closer for 30m.

Thanks for the replies Viking and DaGovernor, the two examples you gave helped reassure me some because the meet I ran today was our first in spiked shoes. Unfortuneately we only have two more before the season ends but I imagine I’ll get more consistent in outdoors.

Hey Viking,

Do any of your athletes play basketball during the winter instead of indoor track? If so, could you give me some examples of how they improve as far as time from their first meet of joining the track team and the peak meet? Thanks in advance.

Yes, some of them do…mostly the girls. At our school when they are in a sport I completely leave them alone, just like I want the other sports to do when they are in track. Basically all the basketball and short sprints they do get them to us in decent shape to build off of. Don’t get me wrong, they have a lot of work to do when the spring rolls around, but for the most part they are ok. Honestly, most of those kids are either jumpers or compete in multiple events with only one or two of those actually being a sprint. As far as indoor gos we don’t have an official season, our kids just go to some of the local university open meets to have fun and knock the rust off a little. We are very hamstrung with what we can and can’t do in the offseason by our state affiliation. Mostly in the offseason they simply lift and do some simple stuff with acceleration development so when the season starts we can take it out a little farther and then by Mid April we can start adding in some SE stuff.

Hope this helps

That’s what I figured. But give me some example if you can of how some of the sprinters that play basketball improve from their first meet of joining the track team and the peak meet. Like what was their time at the first meet and what was it at the last? Just as an example.

For our guys they will typically start the season off in the mid 11’s…11.6 ish and by the end they will usually hit 11.2 sometimes in the rare instance 11.1. We honestly haven’t had but 2 kids that could run under 11 so this is pretty typical of most hs. track teams where we are from.

Girls I would say that they would drop about the same. 12.9 or 2.7 to 12.5 ro 12.4. If they don’t do hoops they start out a little better but the time drop is about the same. ie. 12.85 to 12.21. Last year we had a freshman girl who was little and no strength at all start out at about 13.5 and finished the season off at 12.8

Hope this helps

Dcw23, any thoughts on this?

I ask this because I have 3/4 of the basketball team that are important parts of the track team. One girl last year as a freshman ran 13.3, 28.5, 1:06.0 in the 100, 200, and 400 respectively. She missed the last month and a half of the season with an injury. Another girl as a freshman last year ran 1:05.1 in the 400 before missing the last 3 weeks of the season. I have yet another one who ran 54.2 in the 300 hurdles. When they come out for track they will all be conditioned from basketball, but what can I expect from them time-wise. Give me an estimated guess, I’d just like to know what you think.

I have a question for you guys. What times would be considered excellent for a high school sprinter (male) just starting the sport.

Would 11.1-11.2 be considered good?


Just starting the sport? 11.1-11.2 is outstanding.

Thanks for the info :slight_smile:

I was curious to how my times compared to average when I first started.

My first race ever in track was in highschool at 17 years old

The first time ever in spikes was 11.2 with a slight tailwind (legal) in the heats and 11.1 in the final.

I used to play soccer competitively (highschool and other teams) but got hauled into track by the high school coach who saw me on the field.

Makes me wonder if I would have gone a lot faster with proper coaching back in the early years.

We had no indoor track at the time and our training was basically GPP stuff year round haha!

I didn’t improve much after that (I only managed to get down to a 10.8 after several years of hard training but the average was always 11.0-11.2)

Oh well!

Wow all this is pretty interesting. I am a sophore in high school and have never had any experience running track and this year will be my first year. I’m in basketball season now and don’t know what event I would be running. I am interested in running the 100 and I set a goal of breaking the school record bye the time i’m a senior. Our school record seemed not that fast compared to what you guys are saying, as it is 12.01. So thats not a real good time or anything? Could you the 12.01 a comparison to a 40 time, like would it be as good as somebody running a 4.3 or something? Thanks

The only way to find out how you would do would be to try a couple of 100s and see how your times look.

If you are fast on the court and have good explosiveness and fitness I wouldnt think sub 12 would be a problem.

12.0 seems a little slow for a mens highschool record though. Our old high school female record was 12.2 or so. I think if you have natural sprint talent you could crush that easily.


He did say 12.01, which is most probably electronic.

High School hand times are always, shall we say… interesting.

A guy over on trackstars ran 7.2 for the 100 in high school… true. Just thought that one was quite funny :smiley:


Pete, re your post, I was just looking to see the fluctations from session to session to see if it is recovery related. Fluctuations within the same training session of the nature you describe are most probably because you are learning how to run fast… or your timing method could be a bit dodgy. :wink:

Thanks a lot for the reply Dcw. Assuming that the timing is accurate (and I’m pretty sure that it is, one of the main reason’s being that I’m always within a tenth of a second of PB on the fastest one unless the weather is really awful) would just getting more experience be the best way to deal with this instead of looking for a quick fix?

My bad guys, the 12.01 time was incorrect. The website had the time wrong, and I looked at the board at school today and the 100 record is 11.01 for guys. The same guy has the 200m record at 22.7…I’m gonna try to break one of those before i graduate