New sprinter needing help (History Provided)

My 16yo daughter is trying indoor track for the first time and had her first meet two days ago. She is a multisport athlete and decided to run track this season instead of basketball because she wanted to improve her speed for her primary sport - softball. She has been involved in performance enhancement training outside of whatever seasonal sport she might be playing since she was about 8. We started this early because she had everted ankles and valgus knees to the point where it was almost painful to watch her run. The early focus was entirely ACL injury reduction. Since then we have strength trained with continued focus on injury production but have also been able to focus on force production.
For the past few years she has been the best sprinter and jumper on whatever basketball, volleyball, soccer, or softball team that she has played on. Not the best in all athletic qualities but the best in those. She expected to do well in track because of this and was interested in competing on a more individual basis for a change.
She has had exercise induced asthma that was diagnosed as vocal chord dysfunction. She has changed her diet within the past 6 weeks to a low glycemic index one that eliminated gluten. Her exercise induced asthma has apparently vanished and her dermatitis on her back has also disappeared. Subsequent reseach appears to indicate that these are symptoms of gluten intolerance/allergy.
She restrained her rectus femoris in her last fall softball tournament so went to her first track practice that consisted of a lot of jumping, hopping, and bounding and aggravated it worse. She was on the shelf for the first week and a half of practice. We took her to an ART/chiropractor who worked wonders and the the RF seems resolved.
Her events are going to be 55m, 300m, relay, long jump, and probably high jump and triple jump. She has had 5 practices before this meet. Her track team has consistently been last in the district. She has run a 55 twice in practice and hasn’t run the 300 yet. She hasn’t practiced any of the other events. She has done primarily med ball work, quick feet, and fartlek type conditioning. They practice primarily in the school halls and she had not put her spikes on prior to her first meet. The discussion about the thought process in the 300 took place on the way to the meet and (according to her) consisted of “start hard, don’t go as hard in the turns but still go hard, and go hard at the end.” The fastest girls were taken to a 2 day meet on a friday with the understanding that they weren’t coming back saturday regardless. The rest of the team went to a lesser meet on saturday.

Needless to say she did not do as well as her 16 year old ego thought she would. She only ran the 55 and 300 with the 300 coming first. The track was a 200m track with no bank at all. She drew the inside lane and it was obvious from the start that she was pressing and even appeared to be limping. She finished in 50.46. On the 55 she stumbled halfway through and then put the brakes on at what she thought was the finish line about 10 yards in front of the actual finish line. In that race she was on the outside lane of the 8 lane race and said that she was trying to avoid the people leaning on the rail. We didn’t get a time but she appeared to finish in the middle of the pack.

The 16yo ego took a big blow and I’ve spent some time trying to build her up. I’ve told her that this was a good thing because of all that she can learn from her mistakes and how much room she has to improve. We are continuing to train briefly after practice but I’m looking for some direction as to how to proceed to help her. Her training in the past has been for general speed for use in ball sports - not track specific. I’ve just purchased the master series of ebooks by Charlie but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

What area are you in? Alot of us on the forum know good coaches in certain areas

Start with the basics and build performance from the ground up (GPP).

Also keep in mind that Allyson Felix has EIA.

We’re in southwest virginia.

I think that her GPP is decent. We continue to attempt to develop it and I have a better idea of how to build her GPP (although not as good of an idea as I’d like) than I do her SPP or how to coach mechanics. I do have Charlie’s GPP dvd and I’ll review it again and as I said I’m just starting to go through the master set of ebooks.
The interesting thing is that I think that she doesn’t have EIA. I believe that it was simply due to a gluten intolerance.
I guess I was just looking for some quick and easy “most important” tips that I could employ.

My quick and easy most important tips would include =

Prioritize your regeneration and build it in as routinely as the training.

  1. slow down ( not meant to be condecending but I know it sounds this way)
  2. Read Speed Trap again if you have not read it yet. Learn the process which took years to develop and execute
  3. assist your daughter in deciding what are her goals. Softball? Prioritize and focus only on what it is you wish to accomplish.

IMO too many irons in the fire , expectations are unrealistic based on setting you and your daughter to fail not succeed and I dont hear fun anywhere in this.
I hope this comes out as constructive but do get back to us in January and tell us in a few weeks what you think.
All the best

A couple of things occur to me. First, you said she had had only five practices before her meet and she has never run track before. I don’t see how anyone is going to run a terrific 300 off of that. Somebody’s expectations were/are too high! And it sounds as if the 55 was a mess, so results there mean nothing.

She may have sprint success ahead of her and time will tell. However, having coached both sprinting and team sports, I can tell you that “soccer fast” or “softball fast” etc, don’t always imply “track fast.”

Assuming you have no reason to question the coaching and assuming she is enjoying track, both of you should just relax and see how it plays out.

Thanks, I haven’t read Speed Trap yet. Do you think this should be the first book out of the master series that I should read.
I believe her expectations were unrealistic but I don’t believe mine were. She actually exceeded my expectations in terms of where she placed among the other competitors.
Her priority in terms of athletics is softball and although she may not have her “pick of schools” it appears that she will have several opportunities available. She enjoys staying busy and decided that track would do more to help her improve in softball than basketball would have. I don’t believe in “early specialization” and although many kids do play one sport year round I don’t believe that it’s healthy. She enjoys doing different things and I agree that track would help her reach her goals more than basketball would have.

She actually placed better than I thought she would. This was considered to be a more competitive meet and she finished mid pack or better in both events. I understand this wouldn’t be the case in many places. She just didn’t do as well as she hoped she would. I tried to help her be realistic before the meet without saying, “You’re going to lose big.”

I agree that speed in other sports doesn’t necessarily translate to speed in track. My thought would be that getting faster in track would help her be faster in whatever ball sport she competed in later.

I’m just trying to find ways to make a less than ideal situation better. I’m not a track coach but much of what it seems that she is being coached appears to be inconsistent with what I’ve heard and read from other track coaches. I’m just thinking more in terms of basic mechanics, strategy, and relaxation cues to help her with. I’m not trying to get overly technical, just gathering information to help my daughter have a more enjoyable track experience. She enjoys her various sports experiences through the camaraderie that she shares with her teammates and the satisfaction of performing to your potential. She doesn’t like to think that her potential is “middle of the pack”. It may be but I like to help her as much as possible. Thanks

-Having lots of jumping, hopping, and bounding the first day of practice is dumb. Be on guard for bad coaches.

-Having an athlete that’s never participated in track compete in the 55, 300, relay, long jump, high jump, and triple jump also doesn’t make sense, particularly if you don’t practice for them. That’s an injury waiting to happen.

-Not sure why all those events would be considered if your daughter isn’t in the fast group of girls.

-It takes time to learn to compete in a track race such as the 55 meters. It’s different than conditioning races for softball.

-If it were my daughter and she played softball, I would have her compete in just the 55 and long jump. I think training for and competing in those events would have the most transfer to softball.

-I would also make sure she’s spending some quality time in the weightroom. That will help with the short track events and softball.

It is very difficult to make a big improvement in a short time. It is very easy to get hurt.

I suggest reading Speed Trap first. It’s a fast read that will help lay the foundation to understand training in general. It will also help you to identify bad coaches, which you are almost certain to encounter and may have already, considering all those events.

I agree with everything Ollie says. And I don’t see how running the 300 is going to benefit a softball player. Of course, the track coach is looking at her as a track athlete, not a softballer.

Speed Trap tells a story about so many things in life in and out of sport and I know you will enjoy it.
Mostly I believe you will gain some perspective from Charlie’s vast experience that most coaches do not have. It is almost like sitting down and chatting with him over his much adored coffee.:wink:
I look forward to hearing what you think.
all my best

She is considered to be in the fast group of girls. I’m not really sure what they are going to do in practice. Yesterday was the first day of practice after the first meet. She asked one of her coaches for some guidance as to how to run the 300. She was simply told “they call it a dash for a reason, you run all out the whole time.” She asked to clarify “You mean everything you’ve got the whole time? How is that possible?” Reply “You’ve just got to get stronger.”
The practice consisted of eight 50yard sprints with 15sec rest in between - 15 min break - six 50yard sprints with 15sec rest in between - 15 min break - four 50yard sprints with 15sec rest in between. I’m curious to find out what they did today.

Sent the last post before I was finished. I agree that the 55 and long jump would probably have the most transfer. She continues to lift weights and I just have to be careful to not overtrain her. She is lifting on the days that her track coaches are calling “hard days”. With the lifting we’re trying to keep volume low. I’ve just got to carefully monitor what the track “easy days” consist of to make sure that she has adequate recovery and that we don’t need to eliminate lifting.

This is typical. I don’t know if it’s worth fighting anymore. If you find a youth coach who follows CF type methods then you are a lucky one and have found the minority.

“She actually exceeded my expectations in terms of where she placed among the other competitors.”

I’m no expert, but one of the first things I learned with my young daughter about track is that where “she placed” is not important. What is important, how did she run compared to her PR (Personal Record) her PR and not that of others is the only thing important. As for my daughter, yes, she loves to win, but what is most important is how she ran, what she did right, what can be improved…it’s like a race with yourself, and the others around you are only props to give you an extra push.

When my daughter races, if/when she gets 1st, yes, she is very happy, but, in any race, if she can beat or match her PR, whether she got 1st or not, we REALLY get excited!

At this point, neither of you have really much idea of her potential…like others have said, just go with it, let her learn and enjoy.

I have a 13 year old daughter, and we both had to learn to slow down, and just do it as you can, and if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.

Just my 2 cents…

I wish your daughter the very best, you both will have a great time with this…who knows, next year track may be her favorite sport!


Thanks. The reason I said where she placed was because she has no times (even in practice) and I kind of thought her times might actually be a little better than they were. Now she has times and can focus on that.

Is it necessary to run track at all? This coach sounds like injuries and slowness waiting to happen. Special endurance and even speed endurance aren’t needed for softball, which is her primary goal, right?

I enjoyed Speed Trap a lot. I know how important recovery is but I was a little surprised to see the emphasis that was placed on massage. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a chiropractor in our area that is also certified in ART. She says that she feels a tremendous difference immediately after treatment. Too bad we can’t have him come along to meets.