Why You Shouldn’t Coach Freshmen

Posted by Latif Thomas

The other day, while trolling the Interwebs, I saw a post about how a coach had an athlete run 4×8, 800, 1600 *and* 3200 in the same meet. I tweeted:

And he/she should.

Most coaches agreed because the types of coaches who follow me on Twitter are (generally) rational human beings who prefer not to abuse children to pad their personal coaching stats. ‘Abuse’ too strong of a word for your politically correct soul? Then I meant ‘incompetent’. That coach is incompetent.

Most states have rules limiting the number of events an athlete can do. It’s protection for the athletes because here at the high school level (and especially in a second class sport like track and field) the only coaching qualification you need is to have human DNA.

Then again, after the last school I coached at, even that is debatable.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.

I can write workouts that will make my athletes puke up the dog meat sandwich or whatever garbage their school served them for lunch. Doesn’t mean I should do it. (That also goes for eating school lunches.)

I can go buy crack, smoke it and roll up to practice looking like Tyrone Biggums. It doesn’t mean I should.

The whole incident reminded me of something I’ve found myself saying regularly this season:

“I don’t coach freshmen.”

I have two talented freshmen on my team. One male, one female. Two amazingly different human beings who each hold freshman school records in various events.

They don’t get much attention. Only one of them was even allowed in the weight room. And that was only in the spring. And that was only because he asked 50 times.

But, shouldn’t I be putting time and effort into molding ‘the future’ of the program?

Sure. And I am. But that doesn’t mean they should get any specific attention or coaching. Because they’re training age zero little children who don’t know what a warm up is and certainly haven’t paid their dues like the older kids.

Running a successful program depends on your ability to delay gratification and think long term. Because you can’t teach and stabilize performance in kids (who aren’t freaks) in less than 12 weeks.

In this this video from my HS 400m Development program, I explain a simple way to approach long term athletic development when dealing with short high school seasons:

To your success,

Latif Thomas

Links to places you’ll probably find interesting:

Follow me on Twitter: @latif_thomas

Links to coaching resources you should consider:

Complete Speed Training Volume 2
Complete Program Design for High School 400m Runners

And last, but not least…

The Complete Track & Field Summer Clinic

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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