How Do You Know When You Are Ready to Compete?
Yesterday I was on a coaching call with one of my holistic coaching clients. We were having a great conversation about competing, competition, and when to open up the season. This particular thrower has international experience, is a national record holder, and is on the cusp of hitting the 2024 Olympic Games mark in the hammer.
They have the opportunity to open the season at an international competition in Europe in early March. Our conversation went something like this:
Athlete: Yeah, I can open up in early March. It’d be a long flight with the prospects of only taking three throws.
Me: It sounds like a great opportunity to open the season in an early major competition.
Athlete: I’ll go compete if I feel excited enough and I’m ready to compete.
Me: How do you gauge your excitement and readiness to compete in terms of preparing for this competition?
As we continued our conversation, I asked what type of markers or data points they tracked in regards to being ready to compete. We discussed some items that most would suggest, such as; throwing distances in practice with the competition hammer, throwing distances in practice with hammers of varying weights, and weight room numbers.
I shared a story of hearing Lance Deal speak in Ohio back in December 2015. He shared that he expected himself to be able to walk off a plane after an international flight and be able to throw at least 90% of his personal best within an hour or two of landing and competing.
After we completed our coaching call I started thinking about all the things (or lack thereof) we ask our athletes to do. But do we ask them to do things because we know it will help them get better, or do we ask them because we think they will help them get better. Here is a list of some items we as coaches ask our athletes to do and keep track of:
I believe the physical items are probably on a majority of coaches lists. Taking them one step farther, how do you use the numbers you gather to inform training decisions? How do you know that what you did in the weight room a couple of weeks ago had a positive or negative impact on your throwing session today? Do you track your throwing volume and weight lifting volume and schedule throwing sessions accordingly to the intensity of your weight lifting sessions?
I’m surely missing a few items, but I think you get the idea. If we ask our athletes to keep track of the non-physical traits, how do we incorporate that knowledge into training sessions? Do you as coaches acknowledge whether an athlete pulled an all-nighter and got minimal sleep the night before they are to have a high intensity throwing session? Do your athletes realize that they have taken X number of throws this week in preparation for the upcoming meet? Were all those throws at a high intensity over 90%? Did your athletes have breakfast or lunch before a training session? Does your athlete take into consideration how they feel when they wake up every morning?
What I’m getting at is that we ask a lot of our athletes. We ask them to do a lot of things. Hopefully those things are planned out and incorporated in a systematic manner in which will give your athlete the best opportunity to be successful. We ask them to track things. We should use that data to inform training decisions that will give them the best opportunities to reach and hopefully far exceed their goals and aspirations.
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.