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Volume 8 Number 2 / November 2014

in every issue


4 A Letter from the President 5 USTFCCCA Presidents 56 Updates from the NCAA Eligibility Center


6 Acceleration

Mechanics, Drills, Synthesis

By Tommy Badon

10 Verbal Instructions and Cues

Providing THESE for Enhancing Athletic Performance

By Adam Benz, MKin, CSCS

20 Training With Data

In High School, College and The Professional Level: Insights into how mid to long distance coaches perceive and use data to drive performance and progress

By: Briana Boehmer

Collaborative Authors: Jeff BoelĂŠ, Jason Drake, and Ben Rosario

30 Outstanding Cross Country Coaches


A Systematic Investigation of Commonalities

By Matthew T. Buns and Jason W. Harle

39 Torsion Angles

Discus Throwing

By Andreas Maheras, Ph.D.

45 Breath Based Training

A Different Approach to Distance Training

By Sean Severson


52 USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Class of 2014 54 The Bowerman Finalist 2014


Photograph courtesy of Kirby Lee


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Executive Editor Mike Corn

hope this letter finds you all well and enjoying the fall on your university campus! At this time of year, all of us are in the middle of the fall academic courses, the cross country season and in the midst of preparing our track and field teams for great campaigns in 2015. This time of year always produces great energy and positive focus among our teams and I am confident all of us are highly motivated to produce great results this year. Though the fall beginnings are similar for each of us, there is a lot of change in the air as well. The NCAA is formulating large and sweeping changes for Division I membership and those changes will have an impact on Division II and III institutions as well. These discussions and potential future changes seem to have all of us in a “wait and see” mode. Unfortunately, many of us as Track and Field and Cross Country programs feel somewhat powerless and in a position where we will need to be reactionary when these inevitable changes do come out. My message to you all is simple on this November day….we need to have our voices and our visions heard! We need to become unified in our vision for our future and we need to come together to do so. We need to work within the structure that our organization has created and work together to affect future changes for our sports. We need you, each and every one one of you, to focus your energy in a positive manner and work effectively to make change. Over the past year and a half as your USTFCCCA President, I have encountered so many coaches with passion to see our sports progress and continue to be relevant within the NCAA and beyond. But I have also spent many hours dealing with internal issues of mistrust, gossip and frustration when one does not seem to get what they want. I am now asking each of you to attend the USTFCCCA convention in Phoenix, Dec. 15-18, 2014. Come with your voice and your vision to make a positive impact and help our organization move forward. Each of us is relevant to our futures and our convention is the place and the process to make change and grow us forward. I hope we can have full and lively discussions on all topics of importance and that we can continue to support and respect all opinions and passions. We do not let our teams just “go through the motions” and we certainly should kick ourselves in the backside if we are not working hard to participate in the development of our sports’ futures!! So, as you prepare your teams for future successes, let’s each do our part in preparing our sports for future successes as well. I hope to see you in Phoenix!

Beth Alford-Sullivan President, USTFCCCA Beth is the Director of Men’s and Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country at the University of Tennessee. Beth can be reached at


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Contributing Editors Matt Cohen,



Dennis Young Membership Services Dave Svoboda Photographer Kirby Lee Editorial Board Tommy Badon,

Boo Schexnayder, Derek Yush,

Published by Renaissance Publishing LLC 110 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 USTFCCCA

National Office 1100 Poydras Street, Suite 1750 New Orleans, LA 70163 Phone: 504-599-8900 Fax: 504-599-8909

Techniques (ISSN 1939-3849) is published quarterly in February, May, August, and November by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner, in whole or in part, without the permission of the publisher. techniques is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in techniques are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the magazines’ managers or owners. Periodical Postage Paid at New Orleans La and Additional Entry Offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: USTFCCCA, PO Box 55969, Metairie, LA 700555969. If you would like to advertise your business in techniques, please contact Mike Corn at (504) 599-8900 or


NCAA Division I Track and Field Dennis Shaver is the Head Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Coach at Louisiana State University. Dennis can be reached at

sean cleary

NCAA Division I Cross Country Sean Cleary is the Head Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country coach at West Virginia University. Sean can be reached at

DIVISION II james reid

NCAA Division II Track and Field James Reid is the Head Track and Field Coach and Assistant Athletic Director at Angelo State University. James can be reached at

Scott Lorek

NCAA Division II Cross Country Scott Lorek is Head Men’s and Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country coach at Northwest Missouri State University. Scott can be reached at


NCAA Division III Track and Field Gary is the Associate Head Track & Field Coach at Carnegie Melon University and can be reached at

Robert Shankman

NCAA Division III Cross Country Robert is the Head Cross Country and Track & Field coach at Rhodes College and can be reached at shankman@

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kirby lee photo

Acceleration Mechanics, Drills, Synthesis Tommy Badon


ostural issues dominate the mechanics of track and field. Conserving posture throughout a race or trial in a field event is a key to optimal performance in any event. Initial postural issues from the start will be carried throughout the extent of the effort. These postural considerations are established during the entire accelerative process. Therefore, acceleration mechanics should be paramount in the overall mechanical development of a track athlete. Because initial postural positions are established in this phase of the sprint, and are therefore conserved in the max velocity and maintenance phases of the sprint, it is inherent in our coaching philosophy to place a high degree of emphasis on this area. Start mechanics, drive phase positions, foot contacts and posture in the early phases of a sprint should be placed as a high priority as we plan our training modalities.

General Considerations: As we begin to look at the body positions required to achieve proper sprint mechanics, there are some general considerations to consider at any level. Feet should be staggered 6-12 inches apart. Weight should be centered on the front foot. Knees are fixed, and the shin angles are acute. Shins should be parallel or near parallel to one another. Hips should be higher than the shoulders, and the head and neck should always be in a neutral position relative to the spine. These standards are non-negotiable. There are no stylistic differences when posture is being considered. We should always be cognizant of the fact that accelerative posture establishes posture for the remainder of the run.

Getting in position to Push: Block position Blocks starts are often difficult to accomplish properly. It is an area that requires high power output levels to execute efficiently. Proper positioning in the blocks allows the sprinter a greater chance to achieve suc-

cessful postural positions. Positioning the sprinter in the blocks requires some coaching expertise. The stronger leg (usually the left for a right handed runner) would be fitted to the front block, the smart (or quicker) leg fits in the back block. Individuals with lower power components are often more difficult to assess. The blocks are then set two feet (from the start line) to the front block and three feet to the back. Using a tape measure, this same distance can be determined by measuring .55 of the leg length to the front block, .42 to the back block. Again, these are general rules, and may have to be adapted to the individual. Once measured, the athlete then follows a standard protocol to enter the blocks, always backing into the blocks front to back. The feet are pressed firmly against the blocks with toes on the track, the athlete kneeling on rear knee only. Arms are placed firmly on the track, arms perpendicular to the track, thumbs under the shoulders. The hands form a bridge, maximizing the distance of the shoulders off the track. The head and neck should be in a neutral position relative to the spine. The front knee should be in line with the elbow, the back knee positioned 3-5 inches in front of the front foot. Taller and longer-legged athletes may need to fine-tune their position for optimal effect.

The set position: Good angles make a difference As the athlete rises into the set position, angles become extremely important to the future success of the start. Proper force production is established through the angles represented in the set position. As the athlete pushes on the pedals through the angle of the shin, the pedals will push back on the athlete with an equal and opposite force at the angle at which it was produced. In reaching the top of the set position, the athlete’s hips will be raised slightly higher than the head. The front leg is set at approximately 90 degrees. The rear leg is flexed at approximately 130 degrees. The athlete

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biggest coaching emphasis at this time should be placed on the displacement of the body. The entire body as a unit should be displacing at this time, with significant flight time a result of the large forces being applied to the blocks.

Common Cause/Correction scenarios:

should be focused on a motor task, not opponents, the starter’s pistol, fans or anything other than the motor task previously established. Shins should be parallel to each other. The front shin determines the 45 degree angle to the track required. Shoulders will remain directly above the hands, with an emphasis on balance. Shoulders should not be past the hands, nor should the athlete be in a seated position with shoulders behind the hands either. Bodyweight should be evenly distributed between hands and feet. Hip-ankle relation must not be compromised. Full footed pressure on the blocks is preferred for the majority of athletes.

The start: Initiating the accelerative process The initial propulsion of the body down the track from the set position comes from the hips. The hips are the locomotive engine of the body and all force production is initiated form the hips and pelvic areas. As the start is initiated, the back foot pushes against the back pedal with great force. This is a common error in many starting techniques and is the cause of incomplete hip extension in most cases. As the back foot pushes hard against the back pedal, the front leg pushes through full extension. Because of the time required for the front foot to push and clear the front block, the arms must move with a powerful, aggressive action with large amplitude of movement. The head and neck continue to stay in a neutral alignment with the spine. The 8

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What are the most common errors occurring in the start. We have all seen on a practical basis commonalties occurring at the initiation of the sprint. The accelerative process can only be considered efficient if these common errors are corrected. When asked, most coaches can outline a series of common faults at the start. Most would say “stepping out,” “popping up,” lateral deviation in the preliminary step pattern, bending at the waist in an attempt to “stay low,” and impatience in drive phase mechanics are the most common issues easily identified. All of these issues are directly caused by improper push mechanics at the start, whether it is due to improper angles and position in the set position or a power component incapable of achieving the positions required. So how do we repair these insufficiencies? Repetition of proper motor tasks and sequencing start mechanics from simple to complex are the two most obvious answers. Knowing the positions the athlete should be hitting prior to the start, during the initiation of the start and in the early stages of the drive phase goes a long way in affecting change. Stepping Out = This fault is a direct result of improper force production and incomplete push on the pedals. As the back foot pulls off the back pedal rather than push back on it, the from leg cannot reach the full extension required to put the athlete in the postural position desired at foot contact. To repair this problem, focus on full push on the back pedal and complete extension of the front leg. At the point of clearance, a first step contact point at an acute angle is then cued. If the base of support is not significantly behind the hips at this point, the athlete will not be able to produce the forces in the proper direction necessary for the remainder of the acceleration process. Popping Up = This fault is directly proportional to stepping out. As the athlete produces incomplete extension and pulls the back foot of the pedal without pushing, the stepping out effect that occurs causes the athlete to put his or her foot out in from of the hips. At that point, the foot contacts the ground vertically, or directly perpendicular to the track. This angle of contact can and will result in only one reaction, a return force directly vertically in the opposite direction which causes the body to stand up prematurely. To correct this issue, focus on the same solution as the one provided for stepping out. The athlete must achieve full extension and proper block clearance for an acute foot contact to occur on the first step out of the blocks. Lateral Deviation = As a general rule, this fault occurs when the athlete does not fully push off the back block mike corn photo

and then makes an attempt to “make up” for the incomplete push by staying on the front block longer and pushing at an angle instead of straight back. This results in the proceeding steps deviating side to side until at some point down the track the body adjusts. Once again, two full footed pushes and complete hip extension will assist in correcting this issue. Bending at the Waist = This particular fault normally occurs as an athlete attempts to achieve a coaching cue. “Staying low” is a common cue coaches give athletes at the start. Almost without exception, this results in an ineffectual and even damaging posture that severely impairs the sprinter from achieving optimal sprint posture later in the race. Eliminating this cue from a coach’s vocabulary is the first step in correcting this error. Then, focusing on positive postural positioning, cuing correct pushing applications and keeping the focus on “pushing down to stand up” is the key to success. Impatience in Drive Mechanics = Sprinters are often impatient individuals. They want to get up and run. The drive phase requires patience. Constantly cuing “push, push, push” and focusing

on big, longer amplitudes of movement at the start will eventually affect change in this area.

Synthesis The starting process is much more complex than it appears. Developmental synthesis in order to incorporate proper postural positions is a must. Two point starts are followed by rolling starts. Rolling starts are followed by crouch starts. Crouch starts are followed by three point. Three point starts lead to four point and then eventually to the blocks. Synthesis means that until one stage is mastered, it will be difficult to move to the next level of complexity.

The Final Product The distance achieved during acceleration depends on the level of the athlete. The duration of the accelerative process ranges between 4-6 seconds. The initial postural positions established at the start and in the initiation of the spring must be conserved throughout the acceleration phase. The head, neck, spine, and pelvis remain in the neutral position established in the set position. A misalignment of the pelvis will result

in gross mechanical issues later on and will result in incorrect force applications during the sprint. Posture should be in a straight line from the head to the feet. Pushing mechanics established at block clearance must be conserved throughout the acceleration process. Processing the complex nature of start and acceleration mechanics is inherently difficult. The coach has a huge responsibility to put the athlete in the best possible position to succeed. In sprinting, this means the coach has a responsibility to ensure the athlete maintains proper posture at the beginning of the sprint to ensure a greater opportunity to reach maximum velocity mechanics in proper arrangement. Hopefully, this short guide can serve as a starting point for coaches to have a better feel for coaching start mechanics.

Tommy Badon is the Head Track & Field Coach at Lafayette Christian Academy in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is a longtime instructor in the USTFCCCA Track & Field Academy Sprints/ Hurdles/Relays Specialist Certification Course.

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Verbal Instructions and Cues

Providing THESE for Enhancing Athletic Performance

By Adam Benz, MKin, CSCS

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Verbal Instructions & Cues What Are Verbal Instructions and Cues? Verbal instructions are medium-to-long goaldirected, task-oriented phrases of generally three or more words in length, verbally administered to an individual prior to motor skill performance in order to enhance athletic performance and, or motor skill learning. There are various types of verbal instructions that can be communicated to an athlete and these various types can have differing effects on how one focuses their attention during sport performance. External focus instructions are instructions that direct a person’s conscious attention to outcome or performance results (i.e., movement effects) or specific environmental features (e.g., an implement or some external stimuli) during movement. Analogy (metaphor) instructions are medium-to-long phrases that utilize a biomechanical metaphor in order to reduce the amount of information consciously processed during movement. For example, move in a piston-like motion during the acceleration. External-near instructions are medium-to-long phrases that instruct the individual to focus on outcome or performance results or environmental features closer to the individual. External-far instructions are medium-to-long phrases that instruct the individual to focus on outcome or performance results or environmental features farther from the individual. Internal focus instructions are instructions that direct a person’s conscious attention to the body’s movements or to specific body parts during movement. Neutral focus instructions are instructions that direct a person’s conscious attention to nonawareness by not promoting a specific attention allocating strategy (Porter et al., 2013). Verbal cues are short goal-directed, task-oriented phrases, generally one or two words in length, verbally administered to an individual prior to or during a motor skill performance to direct the performer’s attention to task relevant stimuli in order to enhance athletic performance and, or motor skill learning. External focus cues are goaldirected, task-oriented verbal cues that directs conscious attention towards performing an action without specifically mentioning any body parts. Analogy (metaphor) cues are short phrases, generally 1-2 words in length, that utilize a biomechanical metaphor in order to reduce the amount of information consciously processed during movement. External-near cues are short, 1-2 word phrases that instruct the individual to focus on outcome or performance results or environmental features closer to the individual. External-far cues are short, 1-2 word phrases that instruct the individual to focus on outcome or performance results or environmental features farther from the individual. Internal focus cues are goal-directed,


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Figure 1

task-oriented verbal cues that direct conscious attention towards performing an action with specifically mentioning body parts involved in the movement. Neutral focus cues are verbal cues that direct a person’s conscious attention to non-awareness by not promoting a specific attention allocating strategy.

Why is Providing Verbal Instructions and Cues Important for Coaching and Athlete Performance? (See Figure 2) From a coaching perspective, communicating with the athlete is a vital and necessary component of sport performance, the quality of which can have an acute and potentially long-term impact on the performance outcomes of the athlete. As a coach, two of the main objectives when communicating with an athlete during training and competition are to a) enhance motor learning of a particular skill or set of skills and b) to enhance athletic performance (Craig, 2013; Peh et al., 2011). The coach typically transmits information about sport performance to the athlete via verbal

instructions, verbal cues, augmented (extrinsic) feedback, video feedback and demonstration. In a case study using one of the most successful coaches (in terms of championships) in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the legendary University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) basketball coach John Wooden, who coached his team to seven consecutive NCAA men’s basketball titles from 1967-1973, was observed and recorded during afternoon practices throughout the 19741975 basketball season (Tharp & Gallimore, 1976). It was determined that 50 percent of what Wooden verbally communicated to the athletes during practice was instructions (what to do, how to do it) and rarely provided instructions lasting over 20 seconds (Gallimore & Tharp, 2004). This study supports the conclusion that a large percentage of what a successful coach communicates to an athlete during training is brief verbal instructions, and thus how one provides those instructions then becomes of high importance as it can affect how the athlete performs

Verbal Instructions & Cues Figure 2

motor skills. When the coach provides verbal instructions or cues to an athlete, the athlete can then process that information and determine how to focus their attention on the subsequent performance as a result of the instruction or cue provided by the coach. This process can either help or hurt the athlete’s performance depending on how they decide to focus their attention. The literature indisputably supports that focusing externally can enhance sport performance (Wulf, 2013), while focusing internally can be detrimental to sport performance (Porter, Ostrowski & Wulf, 2010; Schücker et al., 2009). In this regard, coaches can enhance athlete performance by altering the wording of their instructions and cues. However, coaches should be careful with using internal focus instructions or cues, as the majority of sport science and motor learning research has shown that they can have a detrimental effect on athletic performance when compared to external focus and control conditions (i.e., neutral focus group) in some cases. As a track and field coach, one may work with a wide range of populations over one’s career. In this regard, coaching instructions and cues that direct the athletes attention externally (and in some cases neutrally) have been shown to have beneficial effects on males and females (Porter, Ostrowski, Nolan & Wu, 2010); children (Ashraf et al., 2012; Chiviacowsky, Wulf & Ávila, 2012), young adults (Makaruk et al., 2012), older adults (Chiviacowsky, Wulf & Wally, 2010); nov14

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ices (An, Wulf & Kim, 2013), intermediates (Wulf et al., 2002) and experts (Bell & Hardy, 2009; Porter & Sims, 2013); individuals with injuries (Laufer et al., 2007), motor impairments (Fasoli, 2002) and intellectual disabilities (Chiviacowsky, Wulf & Ávila, 2012). (See Figure 3)

How does Verbal Instructions and Cues Influence Athlete Performance? There are numerous theories describing various intricacies regarding attentional focus and how it may affect performance; however, the main theory that has widely been upheld in the majority of studies conducted involving track and field sport performance is the constrained action hypothesis. The CAH purports that an internal focus induces a conscious type of control, causing individuals to constrain their motor system by interfering with automatic control processes, disrupting or deteriorating performance. In contrast, focusing on the effects of a movement (i.e., external focus) allows motor behaviors to happen automatically or with unconscious control – this automaticity facilitates efficient motor control and coordination, resulting in enhanced motor skill performance (Kal et al., 2013; Makaruk et al., 2012; Peh et al, 2011; Porter, Wu & Partridge, 2010; Schücker et al., 2009; Wulf, 2013; Wulf et al., 2007; Zachry et al., 2005). Within the spectrum of external focus instructions and cues, external-far (also known as distal external focus of attention) instructions have been shown to elicit significantly better motor learning

(McNevin, Shea & Wulf 2003) and performance outcomes (Porter et al., 2013) compared to external-near, internal and control conditions. Multiple motor learning and sport science researchers have stated that external far instructions may potentially enhance movement automaticity of the athlete by providing the individual an easily discernible difference between the body and the movement goal, thus potentially being the reason for the augmentation of the external far effects on athletic performance (Craig, 2013; Wulf, 2013). The sport skills within track and field that have been shown to benefit from external or neutral focus of attention instructions and, or cues include running (Schücker et al., 2009), sprinting (Ille et al., 2013; Mallett & Hanrahan, 1997; Porter & Sims, 2013; Porter et al., Forthcoming; Sims, 2010), horizontal jumping (Porter et al., 2010; Porter et al., 2013), vertical jumping (Makaruk et al., 2012; Wulf et al., 2010), discus throwing (Zarghami et al., 2012) and shot putting (Makaruk, Porter & Makaruk, 2013). One such case where providing neutral focus of attention instructions and, or cues may benefit sport performance is for expert sprinters. As Porter & Sims (2013) found that expert sprinters performed significantly better in the neutral focus condition than either the internal or external focus conditions for a 9.14 minute split. In regards to the beneficial effects of external focus instructions and cues on track and field sport performance, it is likely that the improved performance outcomes for running, sprinting, throwing and jumping are a result of improvements in biomechanical, physiological, psychophysical and motor learning outcomes observed when the athlete focuses externally. For coaches desiring to enhance the sport performance of athletes, one simple and beneficial way this can be done is to provide external focus of attention instructions and cues to athletes during practice and competition.

References An, J.; Wulf, G.; Kim, S. (2013). Increased carry distance and X-factor stretch in golf through an external focus of attention. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 1, 2-11. Ashraf, R.; Aghdasi, M.T.; Sayyah, M.;

Verbal Instructions & Cues Figure 3

Taghibiglo, N. (2012). The effects of internal and external focus of attention on children’s performance in vertical jump task. International Journal of Basic Sciences & Applied Research, 1(1), 1-5. Bell, J.; Hardy, J. (2009). Effects of attentional focus on skilled performance in golf. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 21(2), 163-177. Chiviacowsky, S.; Wulf, G.; Ávila, L.T.G. (2012). An external focus of attention enhances motor learning in children with intellectual disabilities Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 1-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01569.x Chiviacowsky, S.; Wulf, G.; Wally, R. (2010). An external focus of attention enhances balance learning in older adults. Gait & Posture, 32(4), 572-575. Comani, S.; Di Fronso, S.; Filho, E.; Castronovo, A.M.; Schmid, M.; Bortoli, L.; Conforto, S.; Robazza, C.; Bertollo, M. (2013). Attentional focus and functional connectivity in cycling: An EEG case study. 16

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Paper presented at the XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing, Seville, Spain. Craig, L.C. (2013). The effects of focused attention on batting performance of collegiate athletes. (Master of Arts in Psychology), University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma. Fasoli, S.E.; Trombly, C.A.; TickleDegnen, L.; Verfaellie, M.H. (2002). Effect of instructions on functional reach in persons with and without cerebrovascular accident. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56(4), 380-390. Gallimore, R.; Tharp, R. (2004). What a coach can teach a teacher, 19752004: reflections and reanalysis of John Wooden’s teaching practices. The Sport Psychologist, 18(2), 119-137. Ille, A.; Selin, I.; Do, M.C.; Thon, B. (2013). Attentional focus effects on sprint start performance as a function of skill level. Journal of Sports Sciences, 31(15),

1705-1712. Kahneman, D. (1973). Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. United States of America: Prentice Hall. Kal, E.C.; van der Kamp, J.; Houdijk, H. (2013). External attentional focus enhances movement automatization: A comprehensive test of the constrained action hypothesis. Human Movement Science, 32(4), 527-539. Laufer, Y.; Rotem-Lehrer, N.; Zohar, R.; Khayutin, G.; Rozenberg, I. (2007). Effect of attention focus on acquisition and retention of postural control following ankle sprain. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 88(1), 105 - 108. Makaruk, H.; Porter, J.; Czaplicki, A.; Sadowski, J.; Sacewicz, T. (2012). The role of attentional focus in plyometric training. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 52(3), 319-327. Makaruk, H.; Porter, J.; Makaruk, B. (2013). Acute effects of attentional focus on shot put performance in elite athletes.

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Kinesiology, 45(1), 55-62. Mallett, C.J.; Hanrahan, S.J. (1997). Race modeling: An effective cognitive strategy for the 100 m sprinter? The Sport Psychologist, 11, 72-85. Marchant, D.; Greig, M.; Bullough, J.; Hitchen, D. (2011). Instructions to adopt an external focus enhance muscular endurance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82(3), 466-473. Marchant, D.C. (2011). Attentional focusing instructions and force production. Frontiers in Psychology, 1(210), 1-9. McNevin, N.H.; Shea, C.H.; Wulf, G. (2003). Increasing the distance of an external focus of attention enhanes learning. Psychological Research, 67(1), 22-29. Ong, N.; Bowcock, A.; Hodges, N. (2010). Manipulations to the timing and type of instructions to examine motor skills performance under pressure. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 1-13. Peh, S.Y.; Chow, J. Y.; Davids, K. (2011). Focus of attention and its impact on movement behaviour. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 14(1), 70-78. Porter, J.M., Ostrowski, E., Nolan, R., & Wu, W. (2010). Standing longjump performance is enhanced when using an external focus of attention. 18

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Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(7), 1746-1750. Porter, J.M.; Anton, P.M.; Wikoff, N.; Ostrowski, J. (2013). Instructing skilled athletes to focus their attention externally at greater distances enhances jumping performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(8), 2073-2078. Porter, J.M.; Nolan, R.; Ostrowski, E.; Wulf, G. (2010). Directing attention externally enhances agility performance: a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the efficacy of using verbal instructions to focus attention. Frontiers in Psychology, 1(216). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00216 Porter, J.M.; Sims, B. (2013). Altering focus of attention influences elite athletes sprinting performance. International Journal of Coaching Science, 8(2), 22-27. Porter, J.M.; Wu, W.F.; Partridge, J.A. (2010). Focus of attention and verbal instructions: strategies of elite track and field coaches and athletes. Sport Science Review, 19(3), 77-89. Porter, J.M.; Wu, W.F.; Crossley, R.M.; Knopp, S.W.; Campell, O. (Forthcoming). Adopting an external focus of attention improves sprinting performance. Manuscript submitted for publication. Schücker, L.; Hagemann, N.;

Strauss, B.; Volker, K. (2009). The effect of attentional focus on running economy. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27(12), 1241-1248. Sims, B.A. (2010). Focus of attention influences elite athletes sprinting performance. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale: OpenSIUC. Southard, D. (2011). Attentional focus and control parameter: effect on throwing pattern and performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82(4), 652-666. Tharp, R.G., & Gallimore, R. (1976). Basketball’s John Wooden: What a coach can teach a teacher. Psychology Today, 9(8), 74-78. Vance, J.; Wulf, G.; Töllner, T.; McNevin, N.; Mercer, J. (2004). EMG activity as a function of the performers’ focus of attention. Journal of Motor Behavior, 36(4), 450-459. Wulf, G. (2013). Attentional focus and motor learning: a review of 15 years. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6(1), 77-104. Wulf, G.; Dufek, J.; Lozano, L.; Pettigrew, C. (2010). Increased jump height and reduced EMG activity with an external focus of attention. Human Movement Science, 29(3), 440-448. Wulf, G.; Höß, M.; Prinz, W. (1998). Instructions for motor learning: differential effects of internal versus external focus of attention. Journal of Motor Behavior, 30(2), 169-179. Wulf, G.; McConnel, N.; Gärtner, M.; Schwarz, A. (2002). Enhancing the learning of sport skills through external-focus feedback. Journal of Motor Behavior, 34(2), 171-182. Wulf, G.; Zachry, T.; Granados, C.; Dufek, J. S. (2007). Increases in jump-and-reach height through an external focus of attention. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 2(3), 275-284. Zachry, T.; Wulf, G.; Mercer, J.; Bezodis, N. (2005). Increased movement accuracy and reduced EMG activity as the result of adopting an external focus of attention. Brain Research Bulletin, 67(4), 304-309. Zarghami, M.; Saemi, E.; Fathi, I. (2012). External focus of attention enhances discus throwing performance. Kinesiology, 44(1), 47-51.

Adam Benz is an accredited Level 2 sprints coach for Athletics Australia. Current sports science Ph.D. candidate within the Faculty of Computing, Health & Science at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Perth, Western Australia, specializing in coaching, motor learning and sprint performance. Cedric Ng photo


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Training With Data

In High School, College and at The Professional Level: Insights into how mid to long distance coaches perceive and use data to drive performance and progress Narration by: Briana Boehmer Collaborative Authors: Jeff BoelĂŠ, Jason Drake, and Ben Rosario


hen I first decided to have a go at distance running I was a sophomore in high school. I was old enough to know that if I wanted to do well, I would have to be diligent in following a well laid out plan. I had watched my father methodically train to compete at local road races, logging everything daily in a spiral bound notebook. The first thing I did when I went out for my high school team was purchase a notebook to log everything I did, just like dad. At the time, I did not have a full understanding of what such a simple act could do for my long-term development. Fast-forward to 2014, and we see high school and collegiate athletes in the United States competing internationally and winning with regularity. It is a trend versus an anomaly. The athletic community has been debating the differences between generations past, and there is no doubt that a part of the equation is that we are training with more resources and information than ever before. To me, coaching has always been part art and science. A coach has hard data at a training session – distance, pace, splits and maybe even metrics like elevation and grade changes and heart rate. Yet with this hard data they have the communication aspect – what the athlete is telling them via conversations and body language. How these components work together is where science meets art. The question I wanted to ask is this: Does it matter what level the athlete is at as it relates to using data and communication? How does a high school coach view and use data versus a professional coach? What about college? In this article we will dive deeper into how coaches and athletes are communicating from high school to college and beyond. At the end of the day, there is a lot each can learn from the other to help move our athletes to better levels of achievement.

Photo Courtesy Jen Rosario NOVEMBER 2014 techniques


TRAINING WITH DATA Training With Data At The High School Level: Jeff Boelé of Lyons High School takes a big picture view to describe how he perceives data collection and the value of using data with high school athletes Every coach has his or her own method for laying out training – plan the entire season, write a month in advance, go day by day or something between. Whatever the methodology employed, coaches draw on information to prescribe what their athletes are going to do to progress. That information is data and it is collected and utilized in particular ways by all coaches. Coaches collect data in a variety of ways. A few simple possibilities include past experiences, asking athletes questions, making observations on a daily basis and reviewing training logs. This collected data is stored and refined as time passes. Next, what kind of data does a coach look for during the training process? Some options might be distance, pace, duration, heart rate, repetitions, perceived effort or even proprietary metrics offered by a training software company. Data, in the case of cross country or Track & Field training, is essentially any information that offers insight into what an athlete is doing or feeling. The penultimate and culminating steps with using data are analysis and implementation, respectively. Once a coach analyzes the collected data, he or she makes decisions on how to progress. The more comprehensive the data, the more appropriate future planning can be. The caveat here is that the information provided by the athlete has to be meaningful to the coach. Depending on the collection methods, it becomes the coach’s role to inform the athlete what he or she needs to provide. In regard to mid-distance and distance events, an example would be one coach valuing duration, while another prefers distance as a measuring metric. Either choice is correct given the particular coach’s experience and ability to interpret that collected data. At the high school level, a coach deals with a vast variety of abilities and commitment to training. Coaches in a team setting often balance administering individualized training with the demands of keeping a multitude of athletes on task. If the goal is to help athletes of any ability and interest level improve competitively, collecting data becomes key to adapting training within the team setting. Establishing groups has long been a successful method employed in team situations to help with athlete management. Often times, race results are the only qualifying method used to assign athletes to certain groups. Not that this method isn’t appropriate, but more data, especially at the high school level, may allow for more accurate group set up on a given day. Factors such as training age, athlete strengths, favored workouts, inter-team relationships or injury risk could be other considerations to parcel athletes. As the coach-athlete relationship is established and grows, the process of collecting meaningful and useful information becomes more efficient. The coach knows what kinds of questions to ask different individuals and the athletes know how best to describe what they are feeling and perceiving. This type of communication allows the coach to adapt a general team oriented training program for each athlete based on sound data. Another primary goal for many coaches at the high school level is instilling good habits. Knowing that data is important, a


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training log is the simplest and most comprehensive means for getting usable information from athletes. Imparting the importance of recording daily activities and any feedback associated with those activities is time well spent by a high school coach. An up-to-date training log becomes a great source of documented information for both the athlete and the coach. Recording information with an intent to assist planning into the future can be helpful to an athlete. A critique of the U.S. “system” has been the lack of continuity between each level of an athlete’s advancement (high school to college to pro). A number of reasons exist for this assessment, but there are also ways to mitigate the potential breakdowns between each step. Coaching education is one method that tries to bridge these gaps. Having basic knowledge of training theory and exercise science can go a long way to assist coaches in best serving an athlete. Recorded data is another imperative element that can be used to allow for smoother transitions between the different U.S. levels. Starting the process of collecting data in a training log as a freshman in high school can provide a longitudinal glimpse into an athlete’s training history. If coaches are truly trying to best serve an ath-


lete, knowing what has worked in the past is a good place to start on getting ready for the future.

Practical Application: Communication is key when coaching our athletes. There is not much that compares to a cup of coffee with an athlete laying out the goals and plan for an upcoming training cycle. The personal connection a coach will have with their athletes is why most of us enjoy the coaching profession. Sitting down with an athlete and laying out the season training plan, mapping out the next cycle through the conference championships, or simply discussing how they felt during yesterday’s tempo run is critical for success. Fundamentally, it is crucial for the athlete to have an idea of where we are going. With a cup of coffee and an hour of time, we can get a lot accomplished and be on the same page. The challenge of a college coach is that we typically carry 40 athletes. I drink plenty of coffee, but 40 cups is hard to do in a week! Technology has allowed the coachathlete relationship to become stronger. Most college teams carry 15-20 distance runners. Here at Washington we have 45 distance athletes and three coaches. With numbers like this, we are constantly challenged to keep everyone on the same page while still making sure each individual athlete is getting what he or she needs. We have tinkered with several online running logs, but this year we moved to the TrainingPeaks software. This software has helped keep all of our


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athletes and coaches moving towards a common goal. Using technology has become a vital component for our team. We constantly use it to communicate. Technology has allowed us to lay out individual training plans that are easily accessible for the individual and our entire staff. Technology has also improved the logging process. Simple apps are easily mastered by members of the “tech-ready” generation. The ability to quickly record information is preferred over the cumbersome task some athletes face in turning in weekly or monthly logs. What’s more, we now have the capability for devices to easily record and send distance, pace and heart rate to an online training log. The quick and easy access to this information, combined with daily comments allows our staff to stay on top of how our athletes are doing. Another huge benefit is that we are now able to receive so much more data to track what is happening when we can’t see our athletes. Let’s face it, the life of a distance coach is often spent watching athletes leave the building for a run, and then talking to them when they return. We can now collect more data and look at what was going on in that hour they were away. What an athlete says transpired on their one hour “easy run” is often different than what actually happened. This concept goes even further when an athlete or coach is traveling or are simply far away from each other. Technology allows for real time notifications about what an athlete is doing no

matter where they are. When coaching a couple athletes this may not be a big deal, but when trying to monitor 45 athletes, often this notification allows me to intervene before an athlete veers too far from their prescribed training. All this said, nothing will ever replace face-to-face conversations with our athletes. This is still the lifeline of what we do. But having real data to look at and discuss in our conversations is good. This technology helps us get our athletes ready to perform at the highest level. Going For Gold: Ben Rosario, coach of professional team Northern Arizona Elite, discusses using data as a critical piece to athlete advancement and trust. In just about every training talk I have ever given, to athletes of all ability levels imaginable, I sing the praises of keeping a training log. My own logs go back to 1995, my sophomore year in high school. Little did I know it at the time, but the data in those logs would in many ways be the foundation for my future as an athlete, and ultimately, as a coach. At its most basic level, training data gives us a sort of treasure map that shows us how we got to our peak fitness, even if that peak fitness wasn’t when we wanted it to be. On the flip side it can also be a book on “what not to do” in terms of identifying patterns that lead to fatigue and injury. No matter the level, you can analyze athlete data and make improvements moving forward. For the most part, the more data available the better, as there are variables far beyond pace and mileage that can play into an athlete


not to mention all the assistants. That means a lot of different philosophies, but I need them to believe 100 percent in what we’re doing. Data is proving to be an invaluable tool in terms of getting them to feel confident in our program here at Northern Arizona Elite. We do a lot of steady state runs, a lot of tempo runs and a lot of miles. With good data recording the athletes can go back after a good result and clearly see, in black and white, how much time we spent in each particular training zone and how ultimately what they did led to said result. The mind can play tricks on us when we’re going off of memory or a simple hand-written training log. High quality data does not lie, however. Once they see the method behind the madness, they’re hooked. And there is no better situation for a professional coach, or a coach of any level for that matter, than to have an athlete that truly believes you are the person that will get them where they dream of going.

Taking It All In...What Does the Future Hold?

reaching peak fitness or to that athlete being fatigued or even injured. For professional athletes, training data is absolutely vital. It’s vital because they’ll fool you. At that level, the athletes are so smooth and so good at getting proper rest, proper treatment, etc. that they rarely appear tired. They begin to seem like machines. But they’re not. They’re human just like the rest of us. Often times, it’s the data that allows us to catch a fatigue cycle coming on in a pro. Left to the naked eye, we might not realize telltale signs like elevated heart rate, pace change on easy runs, trouble on inclines, etc. Recognizing these things via data can mean the difference between a perfect peak and having to go into scramble mode to try and dig an athlete out of a fatigue-induced “hole.” I personally use training data with the professional athletes I coach in a variety of ways, but 26

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probably nothing is more important to me than analyzing how they recover from certain workouts. As we continue to build a Northern Arizona Elite training database, I can really dig into their data from a hard workout and then look at the corresponding data from the following day or two of easy running. This is starting to give me a blueprint for future training segments. I can fairly easily see what workouts cause the most stress, based not only on the data from the workout itself, but also from the next two days’ data. Beyond that I can see where their numbers need to be before a workout in order to be sure they are ready to go hard. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the athletes themselves, they need to believe. The buy-in process for a professional athlete is no easy task. By the time they reach me they’ve likely had at least two to three head coaches in their lives,

In listening to these coaches at each level of the athletic time-line discuss their use and theories on data, I get excited by what the future holds. I think back to when I was in college and the multitude of injuries I sustained throughout my career. Would access to data and information transfer from high school to college have helped my coach know my weaknesses? Would I have been able to better communicate with my coach day to day with consistent data logging? How much more would I have gained from simply having a more complete picture of what I was doing? There is a consistent theme I see at each level, and that is the value in keeping an open dialogue of what is happening day-to-day and season-to-season. Whether it is simply stating how a workout went, or actually tracking the metrics of a workout, this communication paints a picture. The better we can record and keep a solid record of progress and set backs, the better we can make informed decisions for the future. Planning, tracking and ultimately analyzing all becomes more accessible and timely. I know we are just scratching the surface of what data can do. The beauty in data is that we can adapt and mold what we see to the individual athlete in a real way. At the end of the day, data helps a coach do what he or she does best – make critical decisions and guide an athlete to their ultimate potential.

Briana Boehmer leads team sports development at TrainingPeaks. Additionally, Briana is a former Division I runner, and current high-level triathlete, who has been coaching endurance athletes from novice to elite for most of her professional career. kirby lee photo

Al Carius has been the Cross Country Coach at North Central College for over 40 years. His teams have won 15 NCAA Division III national championships.

Outstanding Cross


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North Central photo

Country Coaches A Systematic Investigation of Commonalities Matthew T. Buns and Jason W. Harle

INTRODUCTION Being a successful cross country coach involves more than drawing a line in the dirt, sending athletes out for a run and winning races. Coaching is a complex and demanding profession involving far more than just training athletes to compete (Vallee & Bloom, 2005). It is about mentoring young men and women to become successful athletes, students and human beings. Many coaches are committed to teaching their athletes how to excel not only in athletics, but in life as well. And, despite cutbacks in funding for many athletic programs across the country, participation in sports has never been higher (Brown, 2009). With the impact that coaches can have on student-athletes’ lives, it is important to prepare and maintain quality individuals to serve in this challenging profession.

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Outstanding Cross Country Coaches

So, what do effective cross country coaches do to produce quality athletes? Are they concerned about the moral development of athletes? Do these coaches have unique philosophies? Are they masterful psychologists? Are they strict disciplinarians? Do they employ superior strategies during practices or meets? How do they lead? Research has focused on common elements and characteristics shared by expert coaches in other sports. For example, numerous studies (e.g., Bloom et al., 1997; Horton, Baker, & Deakin, 2005) have examined the practice and game behaviors of expert coaches, finding that they all had well-established routines, which enabled them to accomplish the tasks leading up to and following a competition. Doug and Hastie (1993) reported that effective coaches not only have a set of established behaviors, but also have an ability to observe, analyze, synthesize and modify their coaching to fit their unique situation and the needs of those involved. Bloom and Salmela (2000) found that expert coaches have an ongoing quest for personal growth and knowledge, display a strong work ethic, communicate effectively, empathize with athletes and are good teachers. Hardin (2000) reported that expert coaches display very similar characteristics to expert teachers in that they plan extensively, rely heavily on experience and value content knowledge and continuing education. Expert coaches have also been shown to have extensive libraries, to possess extensive knowledge in their field, to organize knowledge in a hierarchical fashion and to be highly skilled problem solvers (DeMarco & McCullick, 1997). The goal of the present investigation was to examine the coaching philosophies and views of outstanding college cross country coaches across the United States. The intention was to determine whether these coaches used unique or innovative techniques or strategies that contributed to their success. Ultimately, it is hoped that the knowledge shared from outstanding coaches might help aspiring coaches to avoid common pitfalls and reenergize veteran coaches who may be frustrated with certain aspects of their career.

METHOD National Collegiate Athletic Association 32

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and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics websites were searched to identify coaches that had led their teams to a top-25 finish at their respective 2011 Cross Country National Championships (NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA). One hundred-seventy five (175) coaches were identified in eight final season rankings by the described process. Thirty-one coaches (18 percent) completed surveys satisfactorily. Of these 31 coaches, 15 (48 percent) coached NCAA Division III, 8 (26 percent) coached NAIA, and 4 (13 percent) each coached NCAA Division I or NCAA Division II. The responding coaches were predominantly male (n = 26; 84 percent). Sixteen percent of respondents reported having a bachelor’s degree, and 71 percent reported having a master’s degree as their highest degree earned. Three (10 percent) of coaches held doctoral degrees. The respondents indicated their highest level of participation as a long distance runner as follows: college (63 percent), professional (27 percent), high school (7 percent) and never (3 percent). These individuals had coached cross country an average of 22 years, and reported being a head coach for an average of 18 years. Collectively, these coaches won a total of 357 conference championships (M = 11.5), 199 regional championships (M = 6.6), and 63 national championships (M = 2.3).

Outstanding Collegiate Cross Country Coach Survey The coaches were asked to complete an online survey that included demographic questions, as well as open-ended questions concerning coaching philosophies, coaching practices and coaching challenges. Open-ended questions were designed to help identify common coaching philosophies and characteristics. Coaches were also asked about the primary challenges they had faced and how they overcame these challenges. The questions addressed below were deemed to have strong face validity. What do you think are the most important qualities of a good coach? Important qualities included a vast array of skills from which three general themes emerged: communication (31percent), care (23 percent), and knowledge (19 per-

cent). Eight coaches specifically referred to “hard work” to explain their coaching success. Six coaches thought that knowledge was the most important quality of a good coach. Simply put, one coach’s advice was “not underestimating one’s role but not overestimating it either.” Some coaches suggested “being able to relate to the athletes” and “the ability to be flexible in training” were critical. The importance of demonstrating patience, enthusiasm, organization and integrity was also stressed across responses. What important lessons do you teach your athletes? Coaches responding to this question provided suggestions in two main areas: hard work and values for life. Respondents strongly recommended “hard work” (42 percent) as a critical component of cross country success. One coach remarked, “Working hard in all aspects of life pays off in the long run.” Another coach stressed that “my goal is to introduce values and characteristics that will help them to be successful in the classroom, running, and throughout their lives. There are age-old values that are always true.” Several coaches suggest that “sport is a microcosm of lifem” “treating people well” and “making a difference for the future.” Others suggested that preparedness, fun and respect were important lessons to teach their athletes. Sixteen percent of coaches addressed the importance of defining success as “more than just the end result.” The identified themes can be summarized in one coach’s response: “I want to instill values and lessons in young student-athletes that allow them to not only better themselves in running as a sport, but also in life altogether. I also want to teach them ideals that they can carry with them long after their time spent with me. As athletes, I want them not only to train and race harder, but smarter, and to gain an advantage by making more intelligent decisions both on and off the track. To have every one of my athletes achieve a significant feeling of accomplishment.” How do you evaluate yourself as a coach? Respondents to this question suggest that coaches overwhelmingly evaluate themselves in three main ways: athlete improvement (48 percent), formal sea-

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Outstanding Cross Country Coaches

Damon Martin has guided Adams State University’s cross country teams to a combined 25 NCAA Division II national championship titles.

sonal evaluations (26 percent) and race results (16 percent). Most of the coaches based their evaluations on the progress of the individuals within the program. Some coaches suggested seasonal evaluation meetings with athletes, personal review of training, race results and feedback from assistant coaches. Many respondents included specific questions that they ask themselves or other constituents (e.g., athletes, assistant coaches, etc.). One coach asked “Are the athletes happy? Are the athletes improving? Does the program culture promote academics, athletics and god?” Another coach remarked, “Do all of my athletes improve from season to season? Have all of my athletes performed in the classroom? Am I graduating my athletes? Did we accomplish the goals we set? How well did we finish at conference or nationals?” What are the primary challenges you have faced which are directly related to being a 34

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head coach? How did you solve or overcome these challenges? Primary challenges included a vast array of situations from which six general themes emerged: difficulty recruiting, finding dedicated assistant coaches, financial resources, time, administration and discipline problems. Interesting examples representing major themes in this area are listed in Table 1. Coaches had many different pieces of advice to impart to those just starting in the profession. Previous research (DeMarco and MucCullick, 1997) has indicated that expert coaches have extensive libraries and read a great deal on a variety of topics. Much of the advice centered on being patient with limited resources and hard work. Coaches reported learning to juggle the many responsibilities of a head coach—coaching, recruiting, administration, fundraising, alumni outreach and others, while also individualizing coaching methods and making athletes feel impor-

tant. Though 26 percent (n=8) of coaches reported tremendous challenge in hiring high-quality assistant coaches, zero coaches were able to report a single solution for solving or overcoming this challenge.

CONCLUSIONS These findings support other research concerning expertise in coaching. Most of the coaches reported following commonly accepted best practices, and they display traditional leadership characteristics— effective organizer and planner, hard worker, knowledge seeker, compassionate and reflective (Miller, Lutz, & Fredenburg, 2012). They are clear about their expectations for themselves, their assistants and their athletes and stress effective communication, character and effort. Though it was partially the intent of this study to try to unlock unique coaching philosophies, the majority of responses from these successful cross country coaches were less about uniqueness and more mike corn photo

Table 1. Primary Coaching Challenges and Solutions What are the primary challenges you have faced?

How to solve or overcome these challenges?


“Try new and different ways to attract athletes to your school.” “You are resigned to the challenge—be motivated by it.” “Find athletes that are a good fit.” “Work to convince high schoolers they can be successful at your institution.” “You may not be able to overcome this unless you win the lottery. Do what you can with the talent pool you can get. Stay satisfied that you are doing your educational job well.”

Finding Quality Assistant Coaches

No solutions offered.

Financial Resources

“Keep at it. Be good at what one needs to be good at and don’t get in a big hurry.” “Fundraise.” “We haven’t completely solved this.”

Time Management

“Hire good assistant coaches committed to the program.” “Learn to delegate better with assistant coaches.” “Preaching balance in life, so provide ample space to everything—running just being one piece.” “Balance time between home life and nightly phone calls. Balance office hours with enough time for conferences with athletes.” “Give athletes “independent” work—you don’t have to be with them for every workout.” “Be available to athletes at all times—but have boundaries.” “Stay organized so that details are not lost.” “Coaching is about a lot more than just practice, it includes: building relationships with the athletes, boosters, administrators and other coaches, planning trips, fundraising, budget management, monitoring students academically, pushing athletes to be better students, athletes and persons. All of these things require time, dedication and passion. You must be passionate about what you do and outwork your fellow coaches if you want to be successful.”

Dealing with Administration

“Help administration understand the unique qualities of cross country through research, professional and respectful presentation.” “The paperwork each year becomes greater and greater. You overcome this by being organized and having good people around you. You must be able to delegate and trust those around you.”

Dealing with Athletes

“How you talk to one person or structure their training isn’t necessarily going to work for another athlete. Also, the way to relate to the mean and women is completely different; be as individualized as possible and give everyone attention (both through relations and training).” “Work with the student-athletes and try to get them to learn from their mistakes.” “Be patient and celebrate small successes/improvements along the way in building expectations, discipline and success.” NOVEMBER 2014 techniques


Outstanding Cross Country Coaches Former University of Arkansas coach John McDonnell won 42 NCAA Division I championships (11 in Cross Country) including 5 “Triple Crowns.”

about clarity and consistency. It appears that the coaches in this study know what they want and the specific strategies to reach their goals—which involve more than just “winning.” As aforementioned, hiring committed assistant coaches has been a problem that even outstanding collegiate cross country coaches are not always able to resolve. Head coaches may benefit from further training for assistant coaches and from additional coaching resources from national track and cross country coaching organizations.

APPLICATIONS Championship cross country coaches continue to experiment with new training methods and don’t feel as if they “have it all figured out.” These outstanding collegiate cross country coaches want to help runners reach their potential in and out of athletics. As one coach stated, “Coaching is about a lot more than just practice…it includes building relationships with athletes…and pushing athletes to be better students, athletes and persons.”

Journal of Sport Pedagogy, 6, 56-76. Bloom, G.A., Durand-Bush, N., & Salmela, J.H. (1997). Pre- and post- competition routines of expert coaches of team sports. The Sport Psychologist, 11, 127-141. Brown, A. (2009). High school sports participation increases for 20th consecutive year. News Release, National Federation of State High School Associations. DeMarco, G.M., & McCullick, B.A. (1997). Developing expertise in coaching: Learning from the legends. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 68 (3), 37-41. Douge, B. & Hastie, P. (1993). Coach effectiveness. Sport Science Review, 2, 14-29. Hardin, B. (2000). Coaching expertise in high school athletics: Characteristics of expert high school coaches. Applied Research in Coaching and Athletics Annual, 15, 24-39. Horton, S., Baker, J., & Deakin, J. (2005). Experts in action: A systematic observation of 5 national team coaches. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 36, 299-319. Jones, D.F., Housner, L.D., & Kornspan, A.S. (1995). A comparative analysis of expert and novice coaches’ practice planning. Applied Research in Coachign and Athletics Annual, 10, 201-227. Miller, G.A., Lutz, R., & Fredenburg, K. (2012). Outstanding High School Coaches: Philosophies, Views, and Practices. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 83, 24-29. Vallee, C.N., & Bloom, G.A. (2005). Building a successful university program: Key and common elements of expert coaches. Journal of Applied Psychology, 17, 179-196.

Matthew T. Buns is an Assistant Professor of Human Performance and Assistant Women’s Cross Country and Track Coach at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

REFERENCES Bloom, G.A., & Salmela, J.H. (2000). Personal characteristics of expert team sport coaches.


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Jason W. Harle is an Academic Mentor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

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The Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of the Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor are: Sam Seemes, Mike Corn, Sylvia Kamp and Mason Cathey 1100 Poydras St., Suite 1750 New Orleans, LA 70163. Techniques is owned by USTFCCA, 1100 Poydras St., Suite 1750 New Orleans, LA 70163. The Average Number of Copies of Each Issue During the Preceding 12 Months: (A) Total Number of Copies (Net press run): 9,120 (B3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: 0 (B1) Paid Circulation through Mailed Subscriptions: 8,998 (C) Total Paid Distribution: 8,998 (D4) Free Distribution Outside the Mail: 0 (E) Total Free Distribution: 0 (F) Total Distribution: 8,998 (G) Copies not Distributed: 121 (H) Total: 9,120 (I) Percent Paid: 100% The Number of Copies of a Single Issue Published Nearest to the Filing Date: (A) Total Number of Copies (Net press run): 9,280 (B3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: 0 (B1) Paid Circulation through Mailed Subscriptions: 9,148 (C) Total Paid Distribution: 9,148 (D4) Free Distribution Outside the Mail: 0 (E) Total Free Distribution: 0 (F) Total Distribution: 9,148  (G) Copies not Distributed: 132 (H) Total: 9,280 (I) Percent Paid: 100%  Signed, Mike Corn

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Torsion Angles Discus Throwing

Andreas Maheras, Ph.D.


uring the process of discus throwing, wound up positions are observed where the upper parts of the thrower and discus system rotate clockwise in relation to the lower parts. In other words, the hip axis rotates clockwise in relation to the line connecting the two feet, the shoulder axis is rotated clockwise in relation to the hip axis and the right arm is rotated clockwise in relation to the shoulder axis. Subsequently, the system kirby lee photo

unwinds and the upper parts catch up with the lower parts. There are two main cycles of the windunwind sequence. The first is at the back of the circle, during the preliminary swings, where the upper parts of the system rotate clockwise in relation to the lower parts and a very wound up position is observed as the discus reaches its furthermost and backwards point. Following, the upper part unwinds until approximately the time the right foot lifts

off the ground. Then, the lower parts of the body catch up and eventually get ahead and result in another wound up position as the thrower lands somewhere in the middle of the circle. The maximum value of this second wound up position occurs before the left foot touch down in the front of the circle. Finally, the system unwinds again resulting in a tremendous transfer of angular momentum from the thrower to the discus. There are a few torsion angles a pracNOVEMBER 2014 techniques


Torsion Angles

Figure 1. The four lines (axes) that determine all possible torsion angles at the moment of maximum torsion of the system.

titioner can observe as part of a rudimental analysis of the throw. All angles are formed approximately during the second double support just before release. To form those angles, four lines can be drawn (Figure 1). The first line would pass through the middle of both feet, the second through the right and left hip joints, the third through the right and left shoulder and the fourth through the right shoulder and the center of the discus. Figure 2 shows the six individual torsion angles that are formed as a result of those four lines. The lines show the degree and location of the system’s wound up position. Figures 3, 4 and 5 show how those angles typically change during the throw. As far as the time periods, the main focus in most cases is during the period between the landing of the right foot (RTD) and the release of the discus (REL). During this phase, the torsion angles of the shoulders in relation to the hips, of the hips in relation to the feet and of the throwing arm in relation to the shoulders, all of those values reach a local maximum which expresses the maximum magnitude of winding up just before the final unwinding. In most throwers maximum torsion of the hips in relation to the feet is reached first, followed by that of the shoulders in relation to the hips. Similarly, maximum torsion of the shoulders 40

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Figure 2. The six possible individual angles formed at maximum system torsion.

relative to the hips is followed by maximum torsion of the right arm relative to the shoulders. A careful consideration of the fluctuation and order of the angles described above reveals a pattern where the lower parts of the thrower plus discus system begin their actions before the upper parts, something that is typical in throwing activities. The most prevailing explanation for such an order of action (Alexander, 1991) is that during the throwing action greater demands are required from the musculature of the lower parts of the system rather than that of the upper parts. It seems that the muscles of the lower parts of the system are required to accelerate the lower parts in addition to supporting the acceleration of the upper parts. On the other

Figure 3. Typical torsion angle changes between the hips and the feet, the shoulders and the feet, and the right arm and the feet during the course of a discus throw. Note that negative values indicate that the upper parts of the system are behind the lower parts. RTO= right take off, RTD= right touch down. (Adapted from: Dapena & Anderst, 1997).

Figure 4. Typical torsion angle changes between the shoulders and the hips, and the right arm and the hips, during the course of a discus throw. (Adapted from: Dapena & Anderst, 1997).

Figure 5. Typical torsion angle changes between the right arm and the shoulders during the course of a discus throw. (Adapted from: Dapena & Anderst, 1997).

hand the muscles of the upper parts of the system are required to accelerate the upper parts only. Another observation is that the musculature of the lower parts is stronger than that of the upper parts but the greater demands placed upon them makes them act slower as they complete their task. Because of that, the leg muscles need to start their actions before the muscles of the upper body so they can complete their task at the same time as the muscles of the upper body, which have a lighter task to do compared to their own strength. If the upper body is activated too early, the discus will be released before the muscles of the lower body and torso have had the chance to fully participate in the throw, resulting in a reduced throwing distance. The torsion angle that is of most interest is the angle between the line connecting the feet and the orientation of the right arm. This angle expresses the total torsion of the system and is the sum of the angles between the hips and the feet, the angle between the shoulders and the hips and the angle between the right arm and the shoulders. Figure 3 shows that this total torsion angle reaches a maximum value during the single support on the right foot. It is worth pointing out here that, during actual throwing, this angle is not as large as the sum of the maximum values of the three angles just described. This is because those three angles reach their maximum values at different times, as implied earlier. Figure 6 shows an average magnitude of the six torsion angles at the moment the right arm reaches its maximum torsion relative to the line connecting the feet. The larger the value of the torsion angle between the right arm and the feet (their respective lines) the better. If the value of that angle is smaller than the average, one may have to observe the values of the angles between the hips and the feet, the shoulders and the hips and the right arm and the shoulders to ascertain as to which one of them may be responsible for such a discrepancy since those three angles add up to the total torsion angle of the system. Figure 6 also shows an average magnitude of the six torsion angles at the moment of release. Those angles show how well the thrower may have unwound during the transfer of the angular momentum from the body to the discus, following the double support in the middle of the circle. Ideally, the thrower would like to obtain a large angle between the right arm and the feet at release. One NOVEMBER 2014 techniques


Torsion Angles

Figure 6. Average torsion angles at the moment of maximum torsion of the system and, at release. (Data from: Dapena & Anderst, 1997).

should keep in mind though that if the thrower is airborne during release, that torsion angle may not be very useful. Instead, the angle between the right arm and the hip axis may be the preferred way to evaluate as to how well the thrower unwound. Again, large values of this angle are desired at release. The separation between the hip and the shoulder axes has been a well known technical point in discus throwing where the thrower aims to increase the angle between the hip axis and the shoulder axis during the final double support. Figure 3 shows that this angle typically reaches its maximum value between right and left foot touch down in the front of the circle. In addition to separating those two axes during the final double support position, many practitioners also advocate an active separation of those two axes in the back of the circle dur42

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ing the transition from double to single support over the left foot. To achieve this, the shoulders, in at least some throwers, literally stay back and “negate” the leading of the lower part of the body. This action may inhibit the maximum development of momentum in the back of the circle which is of paramount importance in discus throwing (also see Maheras, 2008). An examination of Figure 4, shows that after reaching a local maximum during the winds, the hip and shoulders angle becomes progressively smaller all the way to and even past the right foot take off. Eventually, at the end of this unwinding phase, the shoulders completely catch up with the hips just before left foot takeoff. Indeed, there is no need for an active separation between the hip and the shoulder axes in the earlier part of the turn in the back of the circle. In most cases, all the thrower

needs to do in the back of the circle is to make sure that the shoulders neutrally follow the lead of the right leg. The shoulders should not “negate” the turn in the back of the circle. In the best case scenario, for those throwers who are capable of doing it correctly, the left arm could be “thrown” to the left during the turn in the back of the circle so it can aid in the development of momentum (also see Maheras, 2011). Regarding the hips and shoulders separation, all that matters is that those two axes are well separated in the final double support phase only. Attempting to separate the axes in the back of the circle does not facilitate that.

References Alexander, R. McN. (1991). Optimum Timing of Muscle Activation for Simple Models of Throwing. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 150, 349-372. Dapena, J., & Anderst, W. (1997). Discus Throw (Men). Scientific Services Project, U.S.A Track & Field. Biomechanics Laboratory, Dept. of Kinesiology, Indiana University. Maheras, A. (2011). The Function of the Extremities in Discus Throwing. Techniques for Track and Field & Cross Country, 4 (4), 8-16. Maheras, A. (2008). Momentum Development in Discus Throwing. NTCA Throwers Handbook, J.A. Peterson & Lasorsa R. editors, p.p. 132-136.

Dr. Andreas Maheras is the Throws Coach at Fort Hays State University in Kansas and is a frequent contributor to techniques. kirby lee photo

Breath Based Training A Different Approach to Distance Training


or the past eight years, our cross country teams at Grove City College, an NCAA DIII school in western Pennsylvania, which competes in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, have been using breathing-based training. My background in athletic training partly led me to BBT. I envisioned the many different injuries, illnesses and negative psychological effects that time-based training can have on cross country runners, so I chose to stay away from it. I compartmentalized the different areas Dave Miller photo

Sean Severson of cross country, determining what was critical and what was not. I decided the things that were critical were the things runners did 100 percent of the time, so our program spends almost all its teaching and training time focusing on the things runners do all the time, like stepping and breathing. Runners take steps and runners breathe. I am not sure a person could find two more reoccurring aspects of distance running that we have some control over. Therefore, we put everything we have into our steps and our breaths, which means that dozens

of auxiliary issues take a backseat. Knowing what kind of paces everyone should be running for their recovery, long, cool-down, etc. runs, was something I decided was not important enough to spend any time on. So, I came up with a system that fit my coaching philosophy and, I believe, stumbled onto something better than traditional training programs. BBT is simply using our breathing patterns to determine our training intensity. Our workouts are pretty standard (Long Runs, Lactate Threshold Runs, VO2 Max NOVEMBER 2014 techniques


Breath Based Training Repeats, etc.), with the exception that we use breathing patterns instead of time to determine our intensity. BBT’s basic format is an eight-step breathing pattern (4 steps exhale/4 steps inhale) for recovery runs, a six-step pattern (3 steps exhale/3 steps inhale) for threshold runs, and either a five-step (3 steps exhale/2 steps inhale) or four-step (2 steps exhale/2 steps inhale) pattern for VO2 max workouts, with breathing always trumping pace. We focus on breathing rhythmically and on the duration of our exhales. The duration of our exhales has a direct negative correlation to our effort. The harder we are working, the shorter our exhales become. This is why we will use a 4/4 breathing guideline for our recovery runs and a 2/2 breathing guideline for our VO2 Max workouts. An eight-step breathing patterns allows for a significantly longer duration exhale than a four-step pattern does. It is important to understand that we do not take a quick inhale or exhale every (X) steps. Rather, we continue an inhale or exhale over the course of (X) steps. Because rhythmic breathing is connected to cadence, we check the athletes’ stride frequency on the first day of fall practice. We want all of our runners to be as near as possible to 180 steps per minute. We recheck spm a few more times over the next two weeks, so we know where we are all at and if we have any outliers (runners either below 170 or above 190 spm). Our guidelines of Recovery = 4/4, Threshold = 3/3, VO2 max = 3/2 & 2/2 are what we use for people with about 180 spm. Out of our 40 runners, we will usually have several outliers at the beginning of every season. For these people, we still use BBT, but we adjust their program and either add a step or take a step away to each breath depending on if they are high or low. The duration of the exhale is the most important component of BBT, so for people above 190 spm we will adjust their breathing guidelines until we get their stride frequency under 190. We will use 4/3 instead of 3/3, 3/3 instead of 3/2, 3/2 instead of 2/2, and 2/2 instead of 2/1. For the people with stride frequencies in the 160s, we will drop them a step and make them run at 3/2 instead of 3/3, 2/2 instead of 3/2 and 2/1 instead of 2/2, while working on increasing their turnover. Ultimately, we do not leave an outlier in the 160s or 190s spm. The adjusted breathing patterns are only temporary and for the opening workouts to make sure they are 46

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exhaling for long enough, pacing themselves and will still be standing at the end of the season. But none of that will get them to their potential if you do not get their stride fixed. That underachieving stride or turnover will add up to more time lost than what the protection of the breathing program can gain for them. We protect them with the added or subtracted step until we make the necessary progress with their stride. We look at why they are not optimizing their stride and work towards getting closer to a stride frequency of 180. We will get a few of our outliers into the 175-185 spm range before the season ends and the rest we will get to where we need before the end of the next season. Once they get between 170 and 190 spm, I have them use our standard BBT rates just like everyone else. These runners make huge improvements, because they not only are they becoming better breathers, but also they are developing a more efficient stride. If you use the breathing program you must know your runner’s stride frequency and keep tabs on their improvements with it. When they get their stride frequency into the 170 – 190 range, we give them the same guidelines that the rest of the team gets. Don’t give up on their stride or turnover. We keep after them until they get near 180 spm, and often times the improvements in their stride length and frequency gain us faster times than any kinds of workouts I can provide. I chose my method of training because I believe the pros outweigh the cons. Some of the benefits of BBT are a reduction of illness, injury, burnout andstaleness, a more relaxed running state, an improved ability in delaying lactic acid buildup, more effective recovery days, optimized stride length andfrequency, the opportunity to run your best at the end of the season and an increase in your ability to get air in and out of your lungs efficiently, a benefit unique to BBT. In how many other forms of training does the method of monitoring intensity itself give an added benefit? In heart rate training, the perk is becoming really good at checking heart rates. With TBT the perk is smoother pronation of whichever wrist is wearing the watch. But in BBT the “perk” is developing stronger primary and auxiliary breathing muscles. The runner actually becomes a stronger breather, which in turn makes them an even better runner. How many of us can say our method of monitoring intensity actually physically improves the athletes’ running ability?

Many coaches use some form of timebased training, which usually uses pace prediction charts to give their runners a certain per-mile pace for their workouts and races. I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but I do not believe in using pace prediction charts for cross country. There are just too many variables for me to feel confident that the paces given to the runners are accurate or conservative enough. What if we are training on a course that is more difficult than the one we did our baseline test on? How much time do the hills and turns and obstacles add? What if it were cool, dry and the grass was short when we ran our baseline time trial? Then it is hot, humid and the grass is long when we do our workout. Do you adjust your goal times? If so, how much? I do not know and am not comfortable risking the athlete’s health by guessing. Hydration status, mental fatigue, oncoming injury, recovering from injury, temperature, humidity, rain, snow, mud, wind, hills, falling down, caffeine, gains from improvement, etc.; all of these things and more are variables that can change from the baseline test to the actual workout. BBT takes all of these things into account and just requires each runner to run at the proper effort and intensity called for. And if it is more humid or the grass is longer or the runner is getting sick, he will probably run slower. However, he will be less likely to get injured, because BBT will protect him. Basically, BBT asks us to focus on what we can control and not to force the training. TBT runners often try to do things that their bodies are not capable of doing in certain conditions. BBT does not ask you to do anything you are not capable of doing. That means there may be a time when a runner is still recovering from a previous race and their 3/3 is slower than normal during a threshold workout. If that is the case, we accept it. It is just slower that day, but we are still working at the correct intensity and getting better in that area of fitness. We do not force the training and make ourselves race the workout just to hit a predicted time. If we are doing a threshold workout, we just tell the runners to run 3/3 with wind and without it, on right turns and left turns, in long grass and short grass, if they are tired or fresh, if it is raining or snowing, etc. Wherever that 3/3 puts us, it puts us. BBT makes for better workouts. By focusing on the breathing patterns and keeping a long duration exhale, you can delay the

Breath Based Training buildup of lactic acid. If the only thing you are focused on is hitting a certain time and you are not paying attention to your breathing, you will eventually pay for it. Even if you can hit your goal times, without rhythmic breathing you will accumulate unnecessary lactic acid. The avoidance of accumulating unnecessary lactic acid also comes into play on recovery days. Remember that the duration of our exhales is the critical factor; it is what allows us to expel enough carbon dioxide to keep running at our desired pace. In theory, a runner can unknowingly accumulate more lactic acid on their “easy” days than they do on a more difficult day if they use proper breathing patterns for their “hard” workout and no rhythmic breathing for their recovery runs. Running is very social and some runners can talk for an entire recovery run. I believe that such a runner is not getting the full benefit from the day of recovery, because they are not emptying their lungs of carbon dioxide the way a 5-step, 4-step, or even a 3-step exhale can. I want my runners to have fun and be social on their recovery runs, but I also want them to recover. I advise them to talk when they want to talk, but then breathe when it is their turn to listen and their partner’s turn to talk. Not only does BBT protect runners from burnout, it also allows for “breakouts.” We do not emphasize times, because they can put unneeded stress and pressure on our runners. They also can limit their performance. We have had many runners who ran faster than they thought possible, because they did not bind themselves to the barrier of a specific time. If a runner’s current PR is a 17:20, but he is capable of running a 16:40, yet his goal is breaking 17:00, he may become a slave to the idea of breaking 17:00 and never reach his full potential. Times and places are benchmarks to be used by us, not for us to be used by them. What if our best effort isn’t fast enough? Will we be failures? If we idolize that specific time it does. But if we humble ourselves and just focus on what we can control (like our steps and breathing) we will have peace of mind and self-satisfaction in knowing we tried to become the best we were capable of becoming. Why hold a runner to a predetermined workout time based on a race they ran in the past? With BBT the runner is allowed to reach his potential in every workout and is not bound to previous expectations. BBT opens the door for “breakouts.” Another benefit of BBT is that the rhythmic breathing has a calming effect to it and 48

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keeps the runners from tensing up and wasting excess energy. It also gives the runners something purposeful to do and focus on during their workouts, instead of worrying about their time, place or other things out of their control. Think about the psychological benefits of this training. It leads to less dread, anxiety and burnout. Knowing that you must hit a certain time can be stressful. Focusing on what you can control, obeying the breathing guidelines, and just letting your times fall where they may takes a lot of pressure off and make the experience more enjoyable. Our retention rates are evidence of it. We have graduated 31 seniors in the past two years, which is very good for a school our size. BBT is a great way to set a standard and get everyone on the same page. For example, I can simply say, “Today is a 3/3 day for everyone,” and after practice the 10th runner and the top runner can both know that they worked as hard as the other. With BBT, the top runners do not look down at the runners that are running two minutes slower, because that is where their 75 percent or 80 percent or whatever the prescribed intensity for that day, puts them. No. 10 is working just as hard as No. 1, he is just slower. BBT fosters an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration. For many runners, the social aspect of being on a team can be every bit as rewarding as the competitive aspect. I have seen first-hand the positive team-building and social influence BBT can have. However, as with any program, part of the coach’s challenge is getting the athletes to buy into what you are trying to do. Our former runners and upperclassmen recognize the value of BBT. But some freshmen struggle with it, because it is new for them. Inevitably, it is new for every runner I coach, which means I have to teach it to and get every single runner to buy into it. For some it comes easy, but a few do struggle with it. It may take a few weeks, but we believe so much in BBT that we are willing to go through those growing pains. Once they do buy in and make it their own, the sky is the limit. Another thing a BBT coach must emphasize and work on is the 3/2 (three steps exhale to two steps inhale) breathing pattern. Some runners initially aren’t very skilled at this breathing pattern. Most do fine with 4/4, 3/3 and 2/2, but many struggle with 3/2 and can only hold a decent 3/2 pace for a brief period before they need to go 2/2. Our freshmen often struggle with 3/2, so we drill 3/2 a lot early in the season.

Coincidently, this works fine for us and our upperclassmen, because it is during the early part of the season when we use 3/2 in our VO2 Max workouts. We have had significant success using BBT with our cross country teams at Grove City College. In the past decade we have won 16 conference championships, had an Olympic Trials Qualifier, three NCAA AllAmericans, 12 National Qualifiers and 131 All-PAC Runners. But more important than those facts is the reality that our runners are allowed to reach their potential and have a fun and positive experience with BBT. In addition to all of the benefits and improvements the athletes receive from BBT, we use it because we believe it is the simplest and most time-efficient way to train a large group of athletes. I coach 40 runners by myself. I always have great student-managers and captains, but I am the only coach. I am also a full-time assistant professor, an advisor and the assistant men’s basketball coach, as well as a husband and a father. Trying to predict what our runners’ goal paces should be for a specific workout, on a specific course, with a specific temperature, humidity, fatigue level, etc. is something I do not have time for and probably would not be very good at. I think BBT would be great for any cross country coach, but particularly for someone that is either new to cross country, is coaching beginning runners, has a wide range of ability levels on their team or has a too many runners for the number of coaches on staff. BBT does not need to be used exclusively by beginning coaches or by people coaching beginning runners. We get great results from it in every range of ability level we see, including our absolute best athletes. In the past decade we have had at least six female runners run 6k times between 21:30 – 22:10. None of those runners ran a faster correlating 5k time prior to college, and in some cases, were almost two minutes slower than their 6k pace in high school. BBT certainly didn’t keep our best runners from reaching their potential, and I do not think it would keep other teams’ best runners from reaching theirs.

Sean Severson is the Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania The GCC women’s team has won the Presidents’ Athletic Conference title in each of his eight years and the men have won six conference crowns in that span.

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techniques NOVEMBER 2014

NOVEMBER 2014 techniques


USTFCCCA Coaches Hall Chris Daymont

St. Olaf College Since forming the St. Olaf women’s cross country team in 1976 with just five student-athletes, head coach Chris Daymont has been the constant that connects a tradition of more than 1,000 women who have come through the program since. Not only one of the nation’s most prominent female coaches but one of the most successful regardless of gender, Daymont remains at the helm of what she has developed into one of the MIAC’s winningest programs. Her squads have been to the NCAA Championships 19 times, finishing as high as fourth in 1999 among 12 total top-10 team finishes. In guiding the Oles to those national successes, she has mentored 33 student-athletes to 81 total All-America honors. St. Olaf’s national success under Daymont has been built on the foundation of excellence at the conference level. During her tenure, the Oles have claimed nine MIAC cross country team titles, including five consecutive wins 1998 through 2002 and three straight titles from 1993 to 1995. She also served as the head women’s track & field coach through 2010 when she announced her retirement from the winter and spring seasons. Twenty-nine of her student-athletes combined for a total of 70 All-America certificates with two individual national champions. Her teams finished runners-up at the indoor MIAC Championships seven times and at the outdoor MIAC Championships five more. Beyond St. Olaf, she facilitated the Minnesota State High School Championships’ move to St. Olaf’s campus, has served as the meet director for several championship events (1982 AIAW track & field championships; 2002 and 2007 NCAA cross country championships) and has been a pioneer in water training as a distance and middle-distance clinician around the region. She was inducted into St. Olaf’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013 alongside her daughter Megan, who ran for her both in cross country and track & field. Daymont is an Associate Professor in the Exercise Science Department at St. Olaf, specializing in exercise physiology.


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Tom Donnelly

Haverford College While Tom Donnelly of Haverford has said the impact a coach makes on a student-athlete is “maybe one percent,” the long-running thread of successes his Haverford men’s track & field and cross country squads have achieved during his 40-year-and-counting career as the head coach of the Fords says otherwise. Since taking over at the small liberal arts school of little more than 1,000 students in 1974, Donnelly has become one of the most influential distance coaches in the country. Even though numerous world-class athletes have trained under his tutelage over the years including sub 3:50 milers Marcus O’Sullivan and Sydney Maree, Donnelly has remained loyal to the program he built in Haverford. That program-building culminated in 2010 with his cross country team winning the school’s firstever national team title, led by individual national champion Anders Hulleberg and five All-Americans. The team title is part of a streak of 29 consecutive team appearances at the NCAA Championships, and an overall total of 33 team appearances. Hulleberg was the second national cross country champion Donnelly coached, along with Seamus McElligott in 1990, and his All-Americans were among 32 different men who have earned the honor in cross country during his tenure. He has been equally as successful on the track as on the trails, with 66 men having earned outdoor All-America honors and 59 earning the award indoors, including 15 outdoor event champions and 10 indoor champions. His teams have dominated at the conference level both indoors and out. Since the Centennial Conference was formed in 1994, Donnelly’s Fords have claimed 18 of 21 outdoor track & field team titles and 17 of 21 indoor team crowns. Those victories were powered by the largest number of event champions in conference history. His men have combined for 106 event wins at the Centennial Conference Outdoor Championships, and 130 indoors. Before beginning his legendary Haverford coaching career, he contributed to the track & field and cross country legacy of another historic Pennsylvania institution in Villanova. He was a member of a Wildcats program from 1966 through 1969 that won three-straight NCAA cross country team titles and another in track & field.

Joey Haines

Southeast Missouri State, Austin Peay University, Lipscomb University Whether it be the NAIA, Division II, or Division I, no matter where his programs competed for titles during his 38-year head coaching career, one aspect remained constant for Joey Haines: he produced winning student-athletes and winning teams. He retired from coaching in 2008 to conclude a 26-year tenure at Southeast Missouri. Previous coaching stops included Austin Peay from 1978-82 and his alma mater Lipscomb from 1971-78. Haines’ Southeast Missouri squads of the mid-eighties through the early nineties, when the school still competed at the Division II level, were particularly successful. His men’s and women’s teams combined for 24 MIAA titles during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Haines led his men’s team to the 1985 NCAA Division II indoor team title in the meet’s inaugural season, and would finish runner-up in 1991 in SEMO’s final year in Division II. All-told, his men’s team recorded five top-four indoor finishes and a pair of national runner-up showings at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships while claiming 17 individual titles between the two seasons. His women’s teams were equally successful on the national level with three finishes among the top four teams indoors and a fourth-place finish outdoors in 1991, powered by 10 national champions along the way. Though Southeast Missouri stepped up from Division II to Division I and the Ohio Valley Conference in the early nineties, Haines’ teams kept achieving. His men’s teams have won six OVC team titles between indoor and outdoor since 1995. These teams boasted more than 100 conference champions along with a national indoor champion at 500 meters in 1994, while his women’s program has racked up 14 OVC team crowns with another 100-plus conference champs. Of those more than 200 combined conference titles, 17 have come in the javelin, the event in which Haines specialized while a student-athlete competing at Lipscomb in the sixties. Beyond his collegiate accomplishments, which have earned him numerous honors including National Men’s Coach of the Year in 1987 among many others, he was named the U.S. Olympic Festival sprints coach in 1994 and was inducted into the Missouri Track & Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002.

of Fame Class of 2014 Lance Harter

University of Arkansas and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo A legendary figure in the distance running community for his dominance in Division II cross country before building Arkansas into the present-day perennial contender at the conference and national level that it is today, Lance Harter has achieved success matched by few others during his forty-year-andcounting career. Prior to his arrival in Fayetteville, Harter amassed a Division II legacy at Cal Poly of historic proportions. His teams earned 13 national titles between cross country and track & field, a figure that still ranks as the fifth most ever by a Division II coach in any sport. Following a runner-up finish in 1981, his teams won eight consecutive national titles from 1982 through 1989. The success carried over to the spring, where his Cal Poly women won five NCAA Division II outdoor track & field team titles, including the first three editions of the championships in 1982 through 1984, followed by two more in his final two seasons in San Obispo in 1989 and 1990. His women won 30 individual event national championships during that span – including an all-time DII-best seven by Teena Colebrook (800 and 1500 meters) , and swept the CCAA conference cross country and track & field titles from 1981-82 through 1989-90. In 1990 he made the move to Division I, taking a position at the University of Arkansas. His teams won the SEC Cross Country Championships in each of their five seasons from 1991-95. His squad would rattle off another streak of five straight from 1998-2002, three more in a row from 2006-08, and most recently another in 2013 for a total of 14, winning more than half the SEC meets since his arrival. On the track, his women have won eight SEC Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons, most recently in 2014. Nationally, his indoor teams finished as high as third with three more fourth-place podium finishes, and another fourthplace team showing outdoors. Harter has been inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Honor, the Mt. SAC Relays Hall of Fame and the Cal Poly Hall of Fame. Internationally, he has served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and the head coach of the United States’ 1999 World Championships team.



University of Wisconsin In a conference as steeped in track & field history and tradition as the Big Ten, to hold the distinction of being the winningest coach in league history is something special. Special is also an apt way to describe Ed Nuttycombe’s 30-year tenure at the helm of Wisconsin’s men’s track & field program. Of the 60 total Big Ten track & field team titles awarded during his three decades at the helm in Madison, 26 went to the Badgers , 13 indoors and 13 outdoors, for a total greater than each of the next three teams combined. In 2007, his Badgers accomplished what no other Big Ten team in history had ever done when it won an NCAA Division I Indoor team championship. The 2007 title was preceded by a third-place team finish in 2005 and followed by another third-place showing in Nuttycombe’s final season in 2013. Twelve men won indoor and/or outdoor track & field national titles during Nuttycombe’s tenure, and his men finished as high as fourth outdoors to tie the program’s all-time best NCAA finish from the 1930s. All told, his athletes went on to earn 187 AllAmerica honors. His squad won the outdoor Big Ten team title in his second year in 1986, but nearly a decade would pass before Nuttycombe’s Badgers truly hit their stride with three-in-a-row both from 1995-97 and 2001-03, four in a row from 2004-07 and final one in 2012. His indoor squads followed a similar pattern with league crowns in 1986, 1995-97, 2000-01, six in a row from 2003-08 and one in his 2013 indoor finale. Along the way he guided 165 student-athletes to event championships at the Big Ten meet, with 10 Big Ten Athletes of the Year, 13 Athletes of the Championships and four Freshmen of the Year honors. Prior to taking over in Madison, Nuttycombe graduated from Virginia Tech in 1977 as a fouryear letter winner in the pole vault and decathlon. He served at Northern Illinois as an assistant until 1980 while earning his master’s degree.

Johnny Thomas

Southern University Few individuals have dedicated their lives to not only developing track & field and cross country, but using the sports in their hometown to develop outstanding young men and women so completely as did the late long-time Southern University coach Johnny Thomas. A lifetime resident of Baton Rouge, La., Thomas devoted much of his adult life, until he lost his battle with cancer in June of 2008, to coaching highachieving teams and student-athletes at Southern for 20 years, while also opening the world of track & field up to youth and high school student-athletes throughout the region. Up until the time of his death he remained the head coach of the track & field and cross country programs at Southern, the school at which he competed as a standout sprinter in the early 1960s and from which he graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a testament to the “nevergive-up” attitude he instilled in each of his studentathletes throughout the years. Those student-athletes, many of whom were walk-ons who developed and flourished under Thomas’ tutelage, followed his example to 45 Southwest Athletic Conference titles between men’s and women’s track & field and cross country over the course of two decades. In 1991 he led the Jaguar men to the program’s first outdoor league title in 20 years, kicking off a 13-year span that saw Southern win 11 outdoor team titles and eight indoor crowns. His women achieved similar success after breaking through for their first-ever SWAC title in 1994 and winning eight outdoor and nine indoor crowns through 2004. His Jaguars achieved success on the national stage, as well. In addition to nine men and three women scoring at the NCAA Outdoor Championships during his tenure, he coached 2003 NCAA Division I indoor long jump champion Brian Johnson. Johnson later went on to represent Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Prior to taking over at Southern in 1987, he served as a volunteer coach for three years. He also coached Southern University Laboratory School girls to three consecutive high school state championships, and formed Baton Rouge’s Track Club for Girls and later the Baton Rouge Express Track Club for ages 7-18.

NOVEMBER 2014 techniques



Sharika Nelvis

Arkansas State Nelvis is the first person to represent Arkansas State and the Sun Belt Conference as a Finalist for The Bowerman. The senior won each of her 11 finals in sprint hurdles events 100 meters or shorter, including a sweep of both the NCAA indoor and outdoor titles. She came up clutch indoors with a 60-meter hurdles win in 7.93 by just thousandths of a second to move to No. 7 all-time among collegians. Outdoors she won the 100-meter hurdles national title with a windy 12.52 to jump to No. 6 on the alltime, all-conditions collegiate performances list. She also finished with second-team All-America honors at 100 meters. She owned the Sun Belt Conference Championships this season, scoring 40 points with four wins indoors and 38 points outdoors with three wins and a runner-up finish. She concluded the outdoor season among the top 25 collegians in the 100-meter hurdles, 100 meters and in the long jump. Indoors she was top-25 in the 60-meter hurdles, at 60 and 200 meters, and in the long jump.


techniques NOVEMBER 2014

Courtney Okolo

University of Texas The sophomore is one of only two women in outdoor collegiate history to have recorded two current all-time topfive performances at 400 meters. The collegiate record fell to her at the Big 12 Championships as she won in 50.03, surpassing the previous record by just under a tenth of a second. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships she again posted a historic time, winning the title in 50.23 for a share of the No. 5 performance all-time among collegians. She was undefeated in three finals at 400 meters outdoors, and won once and finished runner-up twice indoors. She was fourth at the indoor championships. Okolo was also a crucial member of the Longhorns’ NCAA meet-record 4×400 relay outdoors with a 49.57 anchor split, and ran a leg of the thirdplace 4×100 relay. She also played a significant role at the Penn Relays, where she split 49.7 to help Texas break the meet record.

Laura Roesler

University of Oregon The senior was dominant at 800 meters throughout the season, winning each of the six races she finished between the indoor and outdoor seasons. She swept both the NCAA indoor and outdoor crowns in the event, winning by more than a second each time. Roesler moved to No. 2 on the alltime, all-conditions indoor performers list at 800 meters with a 2:01.32 on Kentucky’s oversized track, and won the Mt. SAC Relays in 2:00.54 to move to No. 8 all-time outdoors with the fastest-ever non-NCAA Championships performance. She was also a key member of the 4×400 relay that clinched the Ducks their indoor team title and broke the collegiate record. She ran a leg of Oregon’s third-place 4×400 at the outdoor championships, and the Penn Relays saw her run the 4×800 and the DMR as the 1600meter anchor.

finalist 2014

Edward Cheserek

University of Oregon Cheserek made a significant splash on the collegiate scene in his freshman year, sweeping the indoor 3000 and 5000 meters national titles and adding a 10,000 meters national title outdoors. Additionally, he narrowly finished runner-up to Lawi Lalang at 5000 meters outdoors in the NCAA Championships’ all-time fastest race at that distance. He finished the year No. 8 all-time among collegians outdoors at 5000 meters in 13:18.71, and No. 9 alltime at 1500 meters after a slim runner-up finish to Lalang at the Pac-12 Championships in 3:36.50. He also ran key legs of the Ducks’ winning DMR and 4xMile relay teams at the Penn Relays. In the history of the award, Cheserek is only the second freshman to be named a Bowerman finalist.

Lawi Lalang

University of Arizona Several records fell to Lalang throughout the course of his senior campaign, including the collegiate indoor mile record in 3:52.88 and the NCAA Outdoor Championships 5000 meters record in 13:18.36 to edge out rival and fellow Bowerman finalist Edward Cheserek, moving him to No. 4 on the all-time collegiate list. His 5000 meters title outdoors came in addition to three national runner-up finishes: indoors in the mile and 5000 meters, and outdoors at 1500 meters. While Cheserek finished ahead of Lalang in the NCAA titles race, three to one, the Wildcat senior got the better of the young Duck in head-tohead competition, two wins to one. He outkicked Cheserek at the Pac-12 Championships to run the fastestever time in a conference championship race at 3:36.34 to move to No. 7 all-time among collegians. Lalang joins an elite group of other two time Bowerman finalist that includes Ashton Eaton, Kimberlyn Duncan and Brigetta Barrett.

Deon Lendore

Texas A&M University No one could touch Deon Lendore in his signature event, the 400 meters. The junior won each of his eight finals in the quarter-mile, including a sweep of the indoor and outdoor national titles. He was particularly dominant in SEC competition, setting personal bests at the conference championships in a world-best 45.03 indoors and 44.36 outdoors to jump to No. 4 and No. 8 on the respective all-time top-10 lists for those seasons. Texas A&M’s relays also leaned heavily on Lendore as an anchor throughout the year, including the 4×400 relay that came within onehundredth of a second from equaling the collegiate record at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and the runner-up 4×100 relay.

all ph otos by kirby l ee NOVEMBER 2014 techniques


updates from the ncaa eligibility center


his installment of Updates from the NCAA Eligibility Center focuses on important reminders for high school teachers, coaches and counselors who help the NCAA Eligibility Center educate college-bound student-athletes about NCAA eligibility requirements. The high school community plays an integral role in the initial-eligibility certification process, which means the relationship between high schools and the Eligibility Center is very important. The certification process is most successful when responsibility is shared between students, families, high schools, colleges and universities. That being said, the Eligibility Center recognizes that everyone’s time is valuable and we greatly appreciate all involved parties’ willingness to help. Outlined below are helpful hints for high schools that have college-bound student-athletes seeking a certification from the Eligibility Center:

transcripts electronically is the fastest way for high schools to send transcripts to the Eligibility Center. Electronic transcripts are received and processed much more quickly than mailed or even overnighted documents – usually within 24 hours.

ACT and SAT Scores All domestic and international collegebound student-athletes must achieve the required score on the ACT or SAT before enrolling full time at an NCAA Division I or II college or university. The student’s ACT and, or SAT scores must be reported to the Eligibility Center directly from the testing agency because the Eligibility Center does not accept any scores that appear on a transcript. When a college-bound studentathlete registers for the ACT or SAT, it is important for them to use the score recipient code “9999” to have scores reported directly to the Eligibility Center.   

the student has completed his or her registration with the Eligibility Center.

Updating A High School’s Core-Course List As high schools prepare for the second half of the school year, they should ensure their list of NCAA Courses is up to date. An inaccurate list can delay student-athletes’ progress through the academic certification process or prevent them from meeting the requirements. High school administrators may add courses, archive those no longer taught and change titles quickly and easily on the High School Portal. The High School Portal web address is: web1.ncaa. org/hsportal.

Contact Info The Eligibility Center’s toll-free line for high school administrators is 877/622-2321.

Fee Waiver Submission Six-Semester Transcripts Any college-bound student-athlete who has finished his or her sixth semester needs to have his or her transcript on file with the Eligibility Center. Sending 56

techniques NOVEMBER 2014

Students must meet fee-waiver eligibility requirements in order to receive a fee waiver for their Eligibility Center registration fee. An authorized high school official will need to submit the fee waiver approval online after

leigh ann kennedy Leigh Ann Kennedy is the Assistant Director of Amateurism Certification at the NCAA Eligibility Center. She can be reached at

Techniques November 2014  
Techniques November 2014