2017 Season Flashback Series: March 28
Almost a month into track practice and it still feels chaotic. There continue to be miscommunications between coaches and athletes, and I’m unsure of where my role ends and other coaches’ roles begin. I’m not even completely sure who is on our teams.
I feel especially out of control on the high jump apron, where it takes so long between turns that athletes lose focus and occasionally one wanders off to another part of the track! I’m having flashbacks to the powerlessness I felt as a first-year classroom teacher.
One successful strategy among my missteps and uncertainties has been high jump centers. Just like the rotations teachers use to keep short attention span preschoolers engaged. Big kids sometimes do better with a little structure, too.
I divide the group into clusters of 1–3 kids and assign each cluster a center to start. One of the centers is actual high jumping and one is helping with the bar and standards. Depending on how many kids I have, other centers include practicing a mental skill, frog jump drills onto the side of the pit, abs and arms exercises, and shin splint prevention exercises. After the high jumping group takes 2–3 turns each, we rotate.
Even the first time I employed it, this made a huge difference. I hope this will train my athletes to take responsibility for helping with the bar and for their supplemental skills. Now they seem to enjoy high jump practice more — they are more engaged with their learning.