From the conclusion of our CSAC championships in 2021 to the start of the same championship in 2022 there were exactly 365 days. Depending on your perspective, that is either a long time or not enough time. As a coach, I error on the latter. For an athlete, I would guess the former.
When attempting to discuss goals and long-term aspirations with athletes, I try to take a year by year approach to the conversation. We look at what went well, what didn’t go well, and what we think we can do differently for the upcoming season. In most cases, the typical concepts about training harder over the summer, coming back to campus in shape, and being more diligent (not sure how you track this without tracking what diligent is) during the course of the season.
Intentions always begin well and good. The athletes go home for the summer, they have a training program, and things go pretty well for a couple of weeks (maybe even 3 sometimes). Then the reality of training hits, disengagement occurs, and the athletes maybe don’t train as hard as they should. They might miss a session or two, which then snowballs into a week or two. Before they know it, they are back on campus at the end of August with two months of potential lost training time. And then the season begins…
I share this for a couple of reasons. First, last year at our CSAC conference championships, Dylan had a pretty good overall performance. He scored in the shot-put, discus, and hammer competitions.
Overall, he was well within 90% of his then personal best distances. He ended the season with a personal best of 46.16m in the discus and 49m in the hammer. The former set the school record. The week after the competition, at Regionals, we had a conversation about expectations for the upcoming 2021-22 season. We discussed goals, expectations (of course), and aspirations to reach and accomplish his upcoming senior season. Together, we developed a plan that would help him get 365 days later, to our 2022 CSAC conference championships.
So far this season, Dylan has thrown the discus 52.25m (+6m), the hammer 52.84m (+3m), and the shot-put 14.27m (+2m) compared to last season. It is often said that it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. In Dylan’s case, let’s say his collegiate experience (4 years). I’ve known Dylan for two years. He completes all of his weight room sessions, is attentive in practice, and is determined to accomplish his throwing goals. All while balancing a course load as a future engineer and a GPA over 3.8. And then mix in the social aspects of college.
For the younger or new throwers out there that see what I share via social media, if you close enough you’ll see some of the lowlights as well. I try to keep things honest with throwing and my perspective as a coach. We’ve grown from the lows of last year. The highlights are a manifestation of the work and diligence Dylan has put in over the course of the last 365 days. Hitting personal best throws in competition when it matters is great, but also take into consideration the misses and foul outs from prior years.
What I’d like to share is this. It takes hard work, persistence, an open mind, and a willingness to learn in order to develop into an elite level thrower. It does take time. There will be days when you will think to yourself why am I still doing this, or I’m not getting better, or it’s too hard. I can assure you that all of us at one time had thoughts like that. The perceived losses of today help build and illuminate a brighter path for the successes of tomorrow. It’s having a plan, sticking to the plan, and giving your best effort on that plan. It isn’t trying one path for a couple of weeks, then taking a detour for a week, then missing a week, then trying to come back where you left off. It is engaging in conversation with your coach(es) over the summer and figuring out what might not be working and tweaking the path a bit. It is about staying accountable to your process goals. It is about managing expectations. Your expectations. It is as simple as staying true to the course and winning the daily moments. It isn’t easy, but it is that simple.
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.