I’ve recently written a couple of blog posts about expectations and coaching through a pandemic. When you look around at what is happening, a couple of things strike me as interesting. First, making the best out of a difficult situation looks different for everyone. At Alfred State, we have been fortunate enough to be able to continue practicing under guidelines issued by the college and county. We have limited time to practice, as well as limited days to practice, but we are still able to practice. Some colleges in New York have sent their students home and have transitioned to virtual learning for the remainder of the fall semester. I feel for the athletes that had nothing to do with the decision made by their college/university. I especially feel for those who were planning on having an indoor track season and winter season in general.
I think it’s important to really dig down and make the most out of each session I have with our athletes. We are able to practice for one hour, two times a week. In that time I’ve tried to keep things focused and very consistent. The athletes know what to expect when we are practicing. And even though I’ve only had a handful of sessions with them, establishing a sense of trust and mutual respect is going to go much farther than how many throws they take a week. Trust will be critical for when the athletes go home in a couple of weeks, they will be home until the end of January. They will be returning back to campus for classes beginning on February 1st. That means the athletes will be off campus for close to 10 weeks and without contact with coaches for almost 13 weeks. That is almost a whole semester unto itself!
Second, creating an easy to follow routine has helped us immensely. We have been able to get quality reps in over the past couple of weeks because of a consistent and easy to follow routine and a sense of what is expected during practice. For example, last night our throwers each got over 20 quality throws in within a relatively short amount of time. In the past, when we had ample time at practice, I would have each athlete count the number of reps taken per event (shot-put, discus, hammer, weight, and javelin). Now, more than ever, being flexible and adaptive to each athlete’s needs has proven most fruitful.
We only have a couple of practice opportunities left before the athletes are required to quarantine for the remainder of the semester through finals. Having established clear routines and expectations has proven quite helpful during this time. While others across the country have fewer restrictions than we do, others have already lost the indoor season. I think our athletes have adapted quite well to what lays before them. Nobody has complained. Everyone understands what they need to do in order to achieve their goals. At this point, each athlete needs to take firm control of their actions and how they will either assist or hinder them moving forward. As coaches we try our best to instill a sense of work ethic and dedication to the craft of throwing, but ultimately the next three months will prove more in regards to who has taken a step forward or step backward as we make a transition to the spring semester.
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.