Your first task as a track and field coach is to take an inventory of the equipment available for use in practice and in competition. All track and field teams should have the following basic equipment: high jump pit,standards, and cross bar(s); pole vault pit, standards, and cross bar(s); pole vault poles of varying lengths and weight ratings; long jump pit with takeoff board and rake(s); shot put and shot put ring; discus with discus ring and cage; starting blocks; relay baton(s); and hurdles.
The second task as a track and field coach is to make sure you have a whistle, a stop watch, a clipboard and at least two assistants or volunteers to help you coach the variety of events that track and field offers. However, if you are unable to recruit any assistants or volunteers, than you will be responsible for learning and then training and teaching techniques to each of these groups. If this is the case, consider attending a track and field clinic prior to the start of the season and reading at least one manual on coaching track and field.
Recruiting Athletes for Track and Field
The sport of track and field requires athletes of varying shapes, sizes and abilities. A competitive track team needs athletes with speed, strength, power, jumping ability and endurance.
The key word when planning practices is organization. Due to the variety of events in track and field, the workouts for each group will vary greatly. So if you have a group of assistants, each assistant can work with a specific group of athletes. However, if no volunteers or assistants are available, then you must plan a workout for each group.
Keeping Athletes Safe and Healthy
Safety is an important issue in track and field. As the coach you must instruct your athletes on safety issues while on the track, in the throwing areas, and along the pole vault and long jump runways. Additionally, you will need to provide your athletes with proper hydration and nutrition information so that they stay healthy. Finally, teaching your athletes proper warm up and cool down techniques is a key to reducing the risk of injury.
A track coach's job is challenging, but the payoff of watching your athletes being successful is definitely worth all of your time and effort. It is a great feeling to see an athlete set a personal best, win a medal, advance to a higher level of competition or simply get out there and participate.