Some throwers returned to action this past weekend. Others will be returning to action this upcoming weekend. One piece of advice I would share with my throwers before they left for break was to continue training as they would if they were still here at Nazareth College. I always understood that some high school facilities or gyms do not offer the same type of equipment we had at Nazareth, but if they could continue to train at least three days a week they would be much better off than if they didn’t train at all. Unfortunately, for the better part of my coaching career, athletes would return back to campus after their four-or-five-week vacation in much different shape than they left. This is when things got a little tricky.
You see, as college coaches at the Division III level we really can’t make our athletes do anything over the course of any break. They are left to their own devices with regards to training and throwing. In all honesty, I really didn’t mind if they weren’t able to throw because at least that way they wouldn’t be developing poor habits without the assistance of a coach watching them. The weight training, on the other hand, often set us back quite a bit because you simply cannot make up that lost time under the bar.
When our athletes returned back from break, I would sit down and meet with each thrower to gauge what type of physical and mental shape they were in to start the spring semester. I would always ask about training and how their vacation went. I was fortunate that my athletes for the most part were always really honest with me. In their sharing, they would often reveal that they didn’t spend much time at all in a weight room. And yes, as coaches, we can tell especially after a five-week break. If looks didn’t reveal anything, that first training session back would.
For the athletes that stayed the course and didn’t fall behind with training, we were able to pick up where we left off. They often times had far better results through the indoor season compared to their peers that didn’t train during break because it would take about three or four weeks to get back into some resemblance of shape from when they left for break.
In re-evaluating expectations after break with my athletes, I would; 1) review their goals with them, 2) develop an action plan with them on how to get back on track, 3) input accountability metrics along the way, and 4) share with them that at least for the first couple of meets (usually through the beginning of February) to focus on the process of getting back into throwing shape and not stress or feel anxious about the distances they thought they should be throwing at this point in the season and weren’t.
In my coaching career, I think the process over outcome mentality is a difficult one for athletes to embrace. It seems as though our current society is about immediate positive outcomes and results without necessarily putting in the work to achieve those results. I’m sorry, but if you don’t train for five weeks you shouldn’t expect to walk back into the weight room and hit numbers you were hitting before you left for break. That in-part also has an impact on throwing outcomes as well. Holding yourself accountable to your action plan, making sure you complete your workouts, and taking care of your rest/nutrition will give you a better opportunity to hit your goals as opposed to the opposite (not training, not holding yourself accountable, and not taking care of your body).
As you prepare to compete again this spring semester, think about the training or lack thereof you put in over break. If you don’t achieve the results you expected when you returned, what can you do differently moving forward to give yourself an opportunity to reach your goals? What can you immediately begin to do differently in 2020 to realize your throwing dream(s)?
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.