Steal Success From These Coaches?

Posted by Latif Thomas

“The best coaches make the best thieves.”  – Somebody

I don’t know who said it. But, I liked it. So I stole it.

Because that’s pretty much the secret to my success. Rampant thievery of superior methods.

If I think I can use it or it’s better than what I’m currently doing, I will steal workouts, drills, cues and progressions like it’s my job. Actually, in a certain sense, it is my job.

Don’t get me wrong, I give credit where it’s due. But, I’m an unapologetic information junkie and thief. Anyone who has an issue with that probably spends a lot of time posting in forums under a false name.

So, despite a never ending arctic vortex, no track access and not being allowed to long jump or high jump in practice all winter, our sprints/hurdles/jumps group had a pretty successful season, at least in terms of overall improvement and group depth.

Since I’m having a sale on all programs at CTF this week, I thought I’d share the areas we improved over last year and the programs I leaned on most heavily to facilitate such success. If you’re in the market for new information, consider utilizing the materials I borrowed from with positive results.

(If your reaction to our performances is ‘That’s it? My kids are so much better’ then yes, you are fricken awesome! I beg you to showcase your talents by contributing an article/blog post or video that I will happily post on the site. Help our sport by sharing your insight into the true nature of reality. Please send your content proposal to at your earliest convenience!)


Some highlights:

-5 girls under 7.89 FAT in the 55m and 3 girls in the final at our State Divisional Championship (I’ve never had more than 4 girls under 8.00 and all 5 are back next year)
-A boy dropped his 300m time from 38.09 in 2013 to 35.68 in 2014, good for 3rd at the State Championship Meet (not bad for a sophomore)
-Qualified 3 out of 4 relays for the All State Championship (including our 3rd boys 4×2 State Divisional Championship in 4 years)

What I steal from:

1. Complete Speed Training 2

Yes, a no brainer since I created it. But, it’s our top selling program for a reason and it’s pretty good. If you’re looking for a foundational resource you can use with your *high schoolers* competing from 55m – 400m, that’s what it focuses on since, like you, I don’t get to pick the kids I want to coach. I get what I get and what I get is not Jamaican… And my indoor facilities are *awful*.

2. Marc Mangiacotti’s ‘Complete Program Design for 100m’

You simply can’t be a good sprints coach if you don’t understand the 100m. So, I refer to Mang’s 100m program on a regular basis when I need an idea, a workout or want to make sure I’m not going off the rails with my 55m-200m sprinters.


THE SPRINTS-ISH? (aka 400/600 runners)

Some of the highlights:

-A girl dropped her 600 time from 1:46.92 in 2013 to 1:39.85 in 2014 and dropped her 400 split from 64.0 to 60.8 (can’t wait to work with her this spring…just kidding…she plays tennis…)
-Girls 4×4 goes from 4:12.54 in 2013 to 4:08.74 after graduating half of last year’s team. (good thing half of this group won’t be doing track in the spring! go tennis and lacrosse!)

What I steal from:

Ron Grigg’s ‘Complete Program Design for 400/600/800 Runners’

Oh man this program is good, especially if you have a team full of kids who are more Type IIA than Type IIB. And by that I mean you coach, um, suburban kids. I started doing considerably more aerobic work with this group, a change in approach which led the girls group to label themselves ‘Team Hell’. Yeah, 10×200 @ 10k pace with a very short active rest isn’t that fun. But PRs are fun and everyone set several. The charts are awesome. The ‘Pace Continuum’ is awesome. The ‘Multi Pace Workouts’ are awesome. The awesome is awesome.



Ok we didn’t have a magical season in the jumps. I watched two boys high jump repeatedly off of two feet in dual meets and it really made me feel sad inside. But, we weren’t allowed to practice any jumps all winter so I can’t actually get upset about it.

The highlight:

-A girl placed 2nd at the State Division Championship clearing every height on her first attempt until she got to school record (she already has the school record) and personal best heights. (Can’t get too upset when the kid didn’t see a high jump mat in practice until the Wednesday before the Saturday State Meet.)

What I steal from:

Boo Schexnayder’s ‘Complete Technique & Teaching for the Jumps’


Just the Jumping Event specific DVDs

Everybody knows 90% of success in the jumps occurs before the takeoff. So we did a lot of remedial and postural work as a foundation for spring when we can actually practice the sport. Boo is smarter than pretty much all of us, but he and Todd Lane explain things in a way that I can comprehend and also teach to kids whose kinesthetic awareness is questionable at best.

I don’t know. If you coach jumps and don’t have Boo’s DVD program/s, I can’t do nothin’ for ya man. That’s just a no brainer.



Some of the highlights:

-Boys and Girls League Titles in 55H (girls went 1-3-4, boys went 1-2)
-Girl who didn’t even qualify for State Division Championship in 2013 places 6th in 2014 and runs lifetime best in the final. (If she doesn’t, we don’t win the Team Championship. #ClutchPerformance)

What I steal from:

Both of Tony Veney’s Hurdle programs.

For my inexperienced kids and first year assistant, Tony’s first program.

For my ‘experienced’ kids, Tony’s second program: Advanced Sprint Hurdle Development.

Tony did a great job establishing a hurdle teaching foundation in the first (Complete Program Design for HS Sprint Hurdles) program and it is a foundational tool for our young hurdlers. His progression/s in ‘Advanced Sprint Hurdles’ really helped me evolve my hurdle knowledge especially since I never hurdled so my understanding is purely intellectual. In fact, his skill acquisition section in Advanced Hurdles where he talks about ‘The Big Four’ (Stimulation, Adaptation, Stabilization and Actualization) significantly changed the way I view, plan, teach and refine skill development in *all* event groups.



*Multi Events: Athletes competing in multiple event groups (such as hurdles and high jump or long jump, 200 and high jump)
**Combined Events: Athletes competing in the Pentathlon, Heptathlon and/or Decathlon

I’m responsible for the sprints (including 600), hurdles and jumps. I don’t have the time, resources or emotional stability to write separate programs for all event groups every day. I need to apply a ‘commonalities based approach’ to training so my brain doesn’t explode.

I’ve been doing this online thing for 10 years. In that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at a lot of conferences all over the country. So I know it’s highly likely you are responsible for multiple event groups or, at the very least, you have athletes competing across multiple event groups. If that’s the case…

What I steal from:

Boo Schexnayder’s ‘Multi Event Training and Practice Organization’

This program is definitely better suited for outdoor track and field than indoor track and field, especially if you’re not an experienced coach. I can’t tell you how many times I opened up the program design template during various training phases to compare/figure out/steal ideas/not ruin my kids.

Such a good program! If you coach multiple event groups, you’ll love it. If you share athletes across event groups with other coaches (you coach sprints and someone else coaches jumps or whatever) it will help your whole staff get on and stay on the same page.

Reuben Jones’s ‘Workout Planning & Progressions for the Combo Sprinter/Jumper’

Reuben is one of the up and coming stars of the coaching ranks and someone I consult with regularly when I need help with my sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers. His new program (~45 minutes) is great, especially if you’re looking for some wrinkles to add to your program and not a full fledged foundational program.


So, in summary, I’m not going to use this space to brow beat you into buying stuff. I don’t market to people who need to be convinced they need to spend some money to get better at coaching.

I learned how pointless that is when coaching *spring* track at a previous school with the most appropriate mascot in the history of mascots.

I’ve gone over some of the specific programs I used a lot this past indoor. Depending on your situation, I think you’ll benefit from any and all of them. Plus, they’re all on sale so hopefully you won’t have to choose between nerding out to new track stuff and eating dinner this week.

If you have questions, post them below and I’ll do my best to give you acceptable answers.

Latif Thomas


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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