go *here* if you want to get recruited by college track and field coaches

Posted by Latif Thomas



Are your personal bests all you need to get college coaches to recruit you?

Eh. Maybe…

But, go on Milesplit or Athletic.net and take a look at how many people in the country have almost identical times/heights/distances as you. Now think about the fact that coaches are recruiting athletes from multiple other countries as well.

Even if you’re a blue chip prospect ranked Top 5 nationally, the same 5 schools are talking to the same 5 kids and can’t bring them all in so how do they differentiate? Even top schools are evaluating the same information to make those decisions and it trickles all the way down.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “Sure Latif, but you’re just trying to convince me to register for your Complete Track and Field Combine so what else are you going to say? Plus, you’re not even a college coach so what do you know?”

Well, generally speaking, not much. But I do know track and field. More specifically, I know the data college coaches care about.

In the high stakes (big money) process of getting recruited, separating yourself from the hordes of athletes with similar personal bests and grades is simply the smartest decision you can make.

And that means performing certain tests in a setting college coaches will trust.

But if I haven’t convinced you, let’s go directly to a few college coaches you would be quite fortunate to be recruited by, starting with the best of the best:

 

Boo Schexnayder (LSU)

Currently the Director of Strength & Conditioning at Louisiana State University (LSU), Boo has long been regarded as America’s best educator of coaches and one of the world’s best trainers.

“College coaches are constantly bombarded with performance marks and lists. They face the daunting task of sorting through them all in the recruiting process.

It’s so complicated, because the athletes with the best marks now aren’t necessarily the best in two to three years.

So the college coach has to use the “eye test” to figure out the single most important recruiting variable… who has the most upside?

College coaches in other sports use the combine process as a major recruiting tool, it’s time for track and field to move out of the dark ages.



Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has even eliminated the eye test, and these coaches are grasping more than ever to make good recruiting decisions.

These same coaches constantly use certain tests in their programs with their current athletes to assess talent, measure improvements, and make decisions about what event the athlete should be in to enjoy the most success.

So many times in my coaching career, I recruited an athlete with modest, subpar marks, thinking they had “It”. Upon bringing them into the program, these tests confirmed the “It” factor and those athletes had great careers.

Sadly many athletes never get this chance to demonstrate their upside.

Enabling a recruiting coach to have an idea of performances in these tests would solve huge problems and enable more attention (and scholarship dollars) for the athlete in the recruiting process.

Taking the guesswork out of the “Eye test” is a win -win for recruiters and the athletes search for attention in the recruiting process.

College coaches in other sports use the combine process as a major recruiting tool, it’s time for track and field to move out of the dark ages.

For example, the overhead back (OHB) shot throw is one of the most critical tests. Nearly every college program uses it regularly with all athletes in all events. It’s a simple test, learned fairly quickly, that tells a lot.

It’s a test of explosive power, and success in this test normally correlates to success in the block start, acceleration capabilities, as well as indicating good throwing event candidates.

Don’t let the fact that it is a throw test fool you… our school records in the overhead back are held by some of the greatest sprinters and jumpers in our school’s
history.”


Ron Grigg, Jr. (Jacksonville University)

You can (and should) listen to my interview with University of Jacksonville Director of Cross Country / Track & Field Ron Grigg (20x Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year) on how the pandemic has affected the way college coaches evaluate prospects and why personal best performances alone aren’t necessarily going to get you recruited, let alone earn a scholarship or spot on the roster…

…but if you want the super short version here is what he sent me in an email prior to the more in depth interview discussion:

 

“When it comes to projecting an athlete’s potential, results from power tests such as the block 30, fly 10, standing long jump, and over head back shot throw are “leading indicators”, i.e. we’re seeing it in practice but not in meets so we know it’s coming.

On the other hand, track meet performances are “lagging indicators”. It means that sometimes the true ability of an athlete is hidden inside a meet result because that meet result comes after attaining the ability to achieve the result.

Running a full race or competing in full field event requires levels of mastery that may not YET be achieved by a high school aged athlete.

Even a 100- meter race result is significantly influenced by proper acceleration concepts and execution, the ability to distribute a race model, and proper speed endurance training.

A long jump requires accurate approaches and take off mechanics to yield a good result.

These “shortest” events still require significant development for them to be an accurate assessment of an athletes “potential.”

But a flying 10, or a standing long jump, or an over head back shot put throw are all very good tools for assessing an athletes current levels of power as well as “potential.”

More importantly, these tools are universally understood by college coaches.

If a college coach can get accurate testing information from a reputable search it can help us find the athletes that have to tools to be excellent, even if those excellent results haven’t appeared in a track meet yet.

Coaches are looking for data in recruiting.

In this time of pandemic, we have fewer data points, and those data points tend to be older than we are accustomed to evaluating. We look for trends in the track performances we find on www.milesplit.com or www.athletic.net.

High school aged athletes are in the midst of rapidly changing physical characteristics. In many cases, 12 months of mother nature can completely change the level of athletic performance of a high school aged athlete.

As college coaches looking to recruit these athletes, we have missed the opportunity to see these performances. We do our best, but we are extrapolating, we are guessing.

If we can get some reliable testing data to help us add context to the performances we see in competition, it can help us to fill in the gaps in our assessments.

Most importantly, perhaps, the power pentathlon testing events, are themselves GREAT speed/power training tools.

While we test block 30, doing activities similar to block 30s in practice regularly will greatly improve speed/power in general and acceleration abilities specifically.

While we test fly 10s, doing activities similar to fly 10s in practice regularly will greatly improve speed/power/coordination/technique generally and top speed specifically.

While we test standing long jump, doing standing long jumps in practice regularly will improve power expression through improved neuromuscular coordination.

The same pattern follows for overhead back throws with shot put or med ball.”

 

At this point you’re probably starting to see the pattern, but here’s some more proof of the value of adding the results you’ll get from attending the Complete Track and Field Combine to your Prospective Recruit resume:


Marc Mangiacotti (Harvard University)

 

“Our testing in the fall consists of measured Standing Long Jump (SLJ), Standing Triple Jump (STJ), Overhead Back Shot Put Throw (OHB), and timed runs including the Block 30m or 40m as well as either a 150m or 300m.

These tests help me understand the strengths and weaknesses of each student-athlete and they also help me understand each student-athlete's potential.

The testing reveals a lot, much like opening a wrapped gift on your birthday. If you hold a wrapped gift you are probably excited about finding out what you have inside once you unwrap the gift.

I am excited to add new student-athletes to my group each fall but I really don't know their potential until I have more information than just their PR's from high school. This testing helps me unwrap this information each fall. Many times, I wish the student-athletes came in with these numbers so I can compare high to college and from year to year.

I feel badly for student-athletes that have lost parts of their track & field experience due to the pandemic. A lot of student-athletes have lost opportunities to compete all together and even when there are competitions, they are not always normal because of all of the necessary safety protocols.

Recruits have asked me on many occasions about other ways to get recruited other than normal competitions. Each time I get this question, I suggest our testing events since I understand the meaning of the results much like most other college coaches. There is a lack of data because of the pandemic. The more data the better we can evaluate a prospect.”


IN SUMMARY...

1️⃣ Pandemic or not, college coaches continuously collect and analyze data.

2️⃣ There are specific ‘Power Pentathlon’ tests they do…and have done for decades:

✅ Block 30m
✅ Fly 10
✅ Standing Long Jump (SLJ)
✅ Standing Triple Jump (STJ)
✅ Overhead Back (OHB)
✅ 300m (or something similar)

3️⃣ If you and I have essentially the same personal bests (and grades), but I have verified results in these tests that speak a college coach’s native tongue…

…I am a more attractive recruiting prospect than you are and I am going to draw more interest from more coaches at more of the schools we both want to go to.

It’s as simple as that.

➡️ ➡️ Register now for the Complete Track and Field Combine & Showcase hosted by The Nutmeg Games ⬅️ ⬅️

 




Latif Thomas - Latif Thomas owns and operates Complete Track and Field and serves as the Co-Director of the Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University, the largest track and field clinic in the United States. A popular speaker and presenter at some of the largest coaching clinics across the country, Latif has true passion for the sport and it definitely shows. Over the past 19 years, he has coached more combined League, Division, All-State, and New England Champions in sprints, hurdles, and jumps than he can count. Follow @latif_thomas on Twitter.

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