On Sunday our team competed at the Brockport Invitational meet. Yes, the meet was held on a Sunday. The week of practice and preparation leading up to the meet went pretty well. Lots of good throws in practice, the throwers’ technical efficiency improved, and we had some strong performances in the weight room. Then the competition began.
As a whole, the competition went fairly well. We had lots of personal best and season best performances. It was the distance of those performances that I think most of our throwers didn’t like.
In my experiences as a throwing coach, I’ve come to learn, understand and accept the fact that the best week or weeks of practice does not always necessarily translate into a great or even good performance on meet day. Ah, why is that you may be asking. Well, he is a conversation I had with my athletes today about just that.
Coach (me): We won’t have practice today. We’ll get back to it tomorrow.
Thrower 1: Are we still lifting today?
Coach (me): Yes, you are still lifting, but no throwing.
Thrower 2: Thank you coach.
Thrower 3: Does anyone else feel tired, or is it just me?
Coach (me): Although the actual volume of work conducted yesterday was relatively low, the intensity was very high-hence your fatigue today.
Thrower 3: Oh, you’re a lot smarter than me coach.
Coach (me): Well, let’s not get carried away here. I think it’s important to take into consideration that a lot of factors play a role in fatigue. Yesterday definitely plays a huge role. Other factors like CNS, rest, recovery, and nutrition are also critical.
Thrower 3: I just thought I didn’t sleep enough. My brain lacks the wrinkles yours possesses.
Yes, that is the actual text exchange from earlier this afternoon. And yes, that is how I respond to my athletes in our group chat. And even further, those factors listed above do indeed play a role in fatigue and to a greater extent, performance. So what’s the catch???
There isn’t one really. Our performances as athletes, and in this case throwers, is often pre-determined by the factors above. That isn’t 100% always the case, but in my experiences the few days and certainly weeks leading up to a meet determine the likelihood of perceived athlete success or less success (failure).
Now, in my humble opinion, a personal best is a personal best. Even a 1cm improvement is better than the previous performance and outcome. I always take a win or find the silver lining in a meet or performance. We build on win’s. Our growth as individuals is supported by those small wins. Every little bit helps.
In 2015, I attended a throwing conference held at the Spire Institute in Ohio. One of the guest speakers was world record holder in the weight throw and current American record holder in the hammer Lance Deal. In his presentation he spoke about a 10% rule that he has maintained and incorporated when working with the athletes he has coached in the past. I’ll leave you with the talk he gave on the topic and how it’s relevant today with the idea and notion about expectations around performance and what we should expect to throw at any given competition.
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.