Answers to track & field training questions

Posted by Kebba Tolbert

Today I’m guest blogging here at I want to share a few responses to some of the questions I’ve been getting. Since we’re ‘in season’ right now, I can’t commit to writing extensive responses, but I do the best that I can to share what I know.

Q: My son is with the Edmonton Harriers and is starting to gain great strides in the 60, 100 and 200m. What do you suggest for him to increase his leg strength? –Erich O.

Kebba: I would really try to make sure that he is a solid training program. So many areas of a good training program help to enhance leg strength. A good warm up, solid acceleration runs, mutiple jump routines, balance and stability routines all enhance leg strength. Obviously the weight room can make inroads here as well, but it’s only one part of the puzzle.

Here is a great article about in season weight training: Properly Programming and Scheduling In-Season Weight Training


Q: I live in Spokane, Washington.  I have a son that is a Jr. in High school.  He is a 3 sport athlete varsity starter.  He holds a few different school records, mostly in Track and Field.  He has done really well for having no formal training.  Track here is not a year round sport, and so come March, kids, coaches think about track.  I think my son has more potential then he has training for.  How do I find someone to evaluate his technique, his performance and put him on a training schedule to make him an elite athlete?  He has personal trainers but in Spokane, no one really specializes in speed and assessment.   He run’s a 4.35-4.38 (hand)  40 pretty consistently.  Holds the school record in 100m – 10.7,  200m – 21.9, was a state champion in the 4 x 400 as a freshman.   I maybe should have been looking long before now, but want him to have an opportunity to reach his full potential whatever that looks like. — Stephanie N.

Kebba: Thanks for your email. Those are good times for a jr in high school. There are a lot of club coaches in the Spokane area. I would look into working with a club that has a good reputation for working with sprinters. I would talk to the coaches at Spokane CC for suggestions or check with your local USATF chapter.

Q: What do you recommend when you have high school guys who just don’t have much speed and need strength? Thanks. –Jack B.

Kebba: I would suggest that you start in a systematic and progressive manner with those athletes. Even at the university and elite level we get athletes who exhibit *serious* shortcomings in the speed and power areas. We simply get to work.

This doesn’t mean that we load up and use extreme loads, instead we are patient and progressive. So for some athletes a steady diet of acceleration work, basic multi-jumps and a compatible and complimentary training system can yield big dividends.

Q: Good evening.  I have heard about “neuromuscular development” when it comes to training.  I do not have a sports science background and want to learn more about this as it applies to workouts and the weight room.  I have my Level I and it was suggested by Coach Schexnayder that I get my Sprints Certification through the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Assoc.  I know I will not have the money to pay for it this year.

So my question is, how can this be “dumbed” down so I can understand this concept until I am able to get my certification?  I am a volunteer coach working w/the women sprinters.  I do not have a lot of input w/workouts but I want to be able assist.  I did speak w/our men’s multi coach and he is willing to help but any additional guidance would be much appreciated.  Thanks. — Leon P.

Kebba: I would suggest looking at some of the work by Coach Boo Schexnayder (like Planning Training for the Jumping Events Master Class) and Coach Pfaff (there are several videos available on the Canadian Coaches website.)

That’s it for today.

In track,

Kebba Tolbert

P.S. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend investing a copy of the Learning from the Legends Seminar with Dan Pfaff and Tom Tellez.

I also recommend signing up here (at the top right corner of the screen) to receive regular updates, videos and training tips. I know there is a great middle distance program from Scott Christensen that you’ll want to see.

Kebba Tolbert - Kebba Tolbert is in his seventh season as the women’s sprints/hurdles and horizontal jumps coach for Harvard University for the 2017-18 school year, and is in his sixth season as associate head coach of the squad. 2018 was an award-winning season for Tolbert as he was named USTFCCCA Women's Assistant Coach of the Year. Tolbert guided Harvard's sprinters, hurdlers, and horizontal jumpers to historic feats and contributed 117 of the team's 164 points to win a fourth straight Ivy Outdoor Heps title. Eight of the team's 10 Heps titles came in events that Tolbert coached, (100m, 200m, 400m hurdles, long jump, triple jump, heptathlon, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay). For the third time in a row, Tolbert was again named the USTFCCCA Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for the outdoor campaign.

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