Monday, April 28, 2014

Coach, Coach!!

Saturday was Sam's first track meet of this very short season.  I am the mid distance coach for the team of 10-15 year olds.  I had no idea how much work coaching was!  I totally wish I had given all those coaches in my kids lives more gifts or at least more acknowledgement!
Being an assistant coach is annoying at times.  I get a lot of work put on me by the very- good- at -delegating head coach, who has over extended himself.  Sometimes he doesn't even show up until half way through the practice and you never know when that will be.  Sometimes he has everything planned out and he wants you to follow it precisely and other times he's got nothing and well, "you should have a plan- your a coach" kind of attitude.  Love working with all kinds of different personalities!
Before this first meet we have had 4 practices- that's it.   Some of the teams have been practicing every day for 2 weeks, including Saturdays.  I don't even know most of the approximately 80 kids names out there and they don't know mine either.  There is a whole lot of Coach! Coach! going on.  Ok, kids, there are about 20 coaches out here.  I have no idea you are talking to me!
For the 4th practice we just decided to ask the kids what they wanted to do and wrote it down.  I also had an idea for my 4x400 relay for the boys, but other than that, I was lost.  We never had them run a 400 against each other, so I have no idea who was faster than whom.  We also practice on a non regulation track.  It has huge turns and is something ridiculous, like,  527 meters long.  It makes practice a little confusing and training them for a certain distance almost impossible.
We left at o-dark-30 Saturday morning for the meet and made it just in time for the coaches meeting.  Our head coach had sent them 3 different versions of our line up, because the first version was seriously messed up (in my mind).  Sam had been training with the sprinters, but coach put him down to run a 400, 800 and a 4x400.  Sam was like, "what the heck?  I am not running that many times around the track!"  He also put sprinters in other long distance runs and long distance runners in sprints.  He only made 15 changes, however.  He said he had over 30 calls and emails after he put out the first version.
In the end Sam was taken out of the 400 and put in the 200.  He got 2nd or 3rd in his heat for the 200 and was 4th overall on the team for 200's.  He won the 800, however.  He did it in 2:32.  Not bad for someone who has never run an 800 and who was training as a sprinter for 4 whole days.  He started off running crazy hard after a guy who shot out of there like a cheetah.  Thankfully, the head coach was on the first turn and yelled for him to let the other guy go.  There was no way that guy was going to sustain that kind of a pace.  Sure enough, he died soon afterwards.
I was extremely nervous about the 4x400, because I put Sam as the anchor.  Remember, I have never seen these guys run against each other in a 400.  A guy from one of the other bases had just won the 400 in 54 seconds and I knew he would be the anchor of that team.   Our whole team performed well, however and Sam had almost 1/2 a lap ahead by the time he got the baton.  He didn't push it at all and still got the second fastest time on the team.  Our other 4x400 team got second!  Whew!!
We hadn't worked on technique or hand-offs or anything before this meet, so I had to go around telling them how the 3 turn start worked.  Some of them really didn't get it and since they were the second runners, I had to make them understand before their race.  It was not easy.  "But why would I want to be in the first lane?"  Seriously?  I had to start at the basics of how a track gets longer and longer the farther out you get.  Finally, I just said, "you see that flag?  Don't leave your lane until you reach that flag, then cut in to the first lane and don't leave it unless you are passing somebody- ok?"  Then I had to explain to the other guys how they would receive a hand-off and this was another confusing point for them.  Thankfully, I think they all understand now!
This was obviously a first time track meet for everyone.  The timers were killing me.  I was tasked with getting all the results written down, so I hung out with the timers and recorder the whole day.  The timers were doing stuff like bringing the person over that they had timed and saying "she got second" and then leaving.  Yes, but what was her time?  "I didn't know I had to get a time for her?"  What?  Why do you think you have a stop watch then?  They kept mixing up  who was timing whom and they were reporting the times wrong, like 2:03 was said 2.3.  Twice they made one of our girls not win this way and I had to correct them.  "No, no, no, our girl just won and now you've placed her second with that time.  That's wrong!  Try again!"  I heard many of the others that were helping to run it, however, were really helping the kids out- especially at the shot put and the long jump where they were actually let them take practice shots and showing them the proper technique.
Overall it was a great, busy day!  I was able to run to the bathroom once (the track meet went from 8 am-4pm) and grab 2 hand-fulls of trail mix.  They had volunteers that went around and gave the coaches water- which I was so thankful for!
I really worked with Sam, getting to eat and drink at the right times.  I could have been so much better myself, if someone had explained these things to me.  I rarely drank water at the meets and never ate.  I didn't want any food in my belly when I was running, and my races were pretty evenly spaced throughout the day, so I just didn't eat.  I would sit out in the hot sun between races.  I can't believe I did as well as I did with all that!  I had Sam eating and sitting under trees and drinking water and Gatorade.  I was really proud of the way he performed!
Of course, now that we have times, I think there is going to be some changes to whose training with whom.  It should be an interesting practice today!


Anonymous said...

sounds like you a natural for coach- good job Sam- the only better coach you can have is uncle Karl