Well, as I mentioned in my last blog post, I went to the meet to watch the kids perform and lend my expertise where I could. It has been a while since I visited a high school track competition and I was quite surprised at some of the things I saw. One of the most interesting thing was the shock that seemed to come over some of the athletes because of the many events that were happening at the same time. Some of the young jumpers found it very disconcerting to have to do the high jump and the long jump at the same time. I thought it was funny to watch the eyes of the jumpers and see them “bug-out” like a deer caught in headlights.
The problem was the lack of time management and energy conservation. Knowing when to relax and being prepared is key to the success of a talented high school track athlete . One can’t arrive at the meet and forget to warm up or get your step on the runway. Those things have to be done in advance. Athletes in high school have to learn how to check in and out with the judge of the event. Maintaining an even flow of the competition is vital. Since the high jump is done incrementally, it is best to gauge the schedule around that event. The long and triple jump can be done out of sequence so there is a little more flexibility in the timing of your jumps. Just make sure the judge has cleared your departure. Focus on the jump and not the competition. If you ignore the distances and the heights and just concentrate on jumping you can conserve energy and have it available when it is needed, while jumping.
Coaches need to be conscious of their athletes and help them calm down and understand time and energy management. Not enough education of this phenomenon is taught in high school, which I think is a bit of a shame. Athletes need coaches to know the problems and “pitfalls” of the competition, so it is the responsiblity of the coach to teach this important aspect of the track meet.