Areas often overlooked in coaching high school distance runners have nothing to do with workouts, drills, or exercises. The most important intangible for high level success is “expectations.” No matter what the sport, the coaches who produce championship teams every year are those who truly “expect” their athletes to succeed. While some are hoping to place high in their respective league championships, the kids in the top programs are certain that they have a chance to win the state or national championship.
Former Mead High School (Spokane, WA) coach Pat Tyson always started out the cross country season with the statement, “We are going to be state champions this fall.” That actually happened 16 times during his 23 years at Mead. Expecting to win was the key.
Another non-running key to success is for the coach to ensure that all members of the team feel important. The best athletes in all sports gain the most recognition, but cross country is a unique sport where the slowest runner may never outrun anyone, yet that runner can work hard and at the least improve.
A good coach will note kids with these improvements and create a team with all sorts of winners.
written by Joel Pearson USATF Level 2 Certified Coach