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Warming Up for Sprinting in Track and Field

3 Essential Rules for the Warm up. 

1. Think relaxation in all things you do. If you are not able to perform the movement in a relaxed way do something easier.

2. Take your time. Don’t rush your warm up. I learned this lesson the hard way from former World and Olympic Champion in the men’s 100 meters Ben Johnson. I asked what he had thought of my race at one of my first national championships in 1991 in Montreal. He said “ okay , but you would have done so much better if you didn’t rush your warm up.”. I never forgot what he said and it changed the way I prepared for all training.

3. An excellent guideline to know you are ready for the actual work of your training is achieving a mild sweat on your forehead. This rule does not seem overly sophisticated but it works. I am not talking about profuse sweating before you begin. 

Some Guidelines for an extensive warm-up before Sprinting or Tempo

Note :
 Get in the habit of timing your warm up, pay attention to how much time various parts of your warm up and training take, and record it in your training diary.  

1. Jog slowly for 10 minutes or X number of laps around the track or grass if you have it. Usually 3 to 4 laps outside on outside track.

2. We used the length of the football field (post to post) to perform a lot of the drills and runs in the warm up. It was a predictable distance and most often easy to replicate in almost any location in almost any country. Approx. 100 yds or meters depending Canada, US or Eurupe. Soccer or American Football. 

3. Once the 10 minutes of jogging took place we usually launched immediately into side skips down one length and shaking back. Generally we would mix in one , maybe two exercises at one end of the field. Generally the end where we had all of our bags , water etc. The exercises would be a mixture of med ball throws, donkey kicks. sit ups mixed with stretches. 5 to 8 minutes

4. Side skips, grape vine, back ward arm circles and tripling were the main exercises on the way down the field and then usually we did what we called shaking back which was like a jog but shoulders are down and you are shaking your entire body. Some have commented on the silliness they feel doing this exercise but it promotes relaxation throughout the warm up.  

NOTE: Shaking promotes relaxation. It’s not a jog. It’s not a skip. Your hands should fall to your side and as you are shuffling along in somewhat of a jog as you are shaking your body. 

5. @ approx. 18 to 20 minutes Power Speed Drills = Power Speed was included in 99% of every warm up I ever performed in 7 years of training. 

• Bum kicks
• A skip
• B skip
• Running A’s 

The distances might vary. A typical progression might be =

3 sets of each drill over 10 meters , then 4 x 10 meters of each drill. As the drills improve so too does the distance maybe. Quality first , volume second. 

Total time up to this point = Not more than 45 minutes but not one hour. 

More is not better / Practice makes permanent

In my next blog I will discuss the things that need to be added after the power speed but often on tempo days the above warm up might be it. But maybe not. 

Often we used a series of med ball throws routinely in our warm up.

After the 10 min jog and within the back and forths and before and or during the power speed.

When I first started out , I did far more little exercises in the body of the warm up before Power Speed. ( see the bike workout for this) 

The reason for this was to gain FITNESS. So for all of you talking about how possibly fitness is not important for speed or the development of speed. 

Pay close attention to the details within the warm up. 

And I never lifted one weight for 2 full years. Instead I worked extensively with a very light med ball. I think it was 2 or 3 k. I remember complaining on deaf ears "when can I use a heavier ball". I got nothing back.

You are ready to move ahead when you are ready to move ahead. Most athletes all want to move ahead faster . No kidding.

I'd love to hear about your warm up. Thank you for all of your questions and feedback. I will do my best to respond to you.




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Coaching Standards and Certifications

Coaching Standards and Certifications  


One thing that strikes me about a recent conversation on LinkedIn around coaching standards and certifications has been how passionate coaches are as a group.   


Most people do not set out into the coaching world to get rich. 


While this might not be true of the elite professional sports, the large majority of coaches are working long hours at odd times of the day for less than standard pay. Ironically, we don’t hear great numbers of these coaches complaining and I think it’s like this because they simply love what they do.  


I bring a unique perspective to this discussion having been athlete, coach and also spending 20 plus years married to one of the most influential and interesting coaches in track and field.  My aim is to add into the current dialogue, encourage further discussion in a more organized way and attempt to initiate needed change.  


What are the models of other professional organizations already in existence? 


Many careers including medicine and law do not discriminate what type of degrees are needed before entering a specialized profession.  Why would coaching be any different?  Diverse degrees add perspective and depth to professions.   


Common Characteristics of Established Professions  



Having a BA as a minimal standard


This is a common approach for many careers.   Adding requirements with an emphasis of needed skills related to athletics and or coaching can easily be accomplished. Professional organizations require some form of a degree or post secondary education before applying to enter further training.  Nursing, Law, Medicine and Teaching are just a few. It makes a great deal of sense to use existing models that have been in effect for decades to adapt to the industry of coaching.




 A rule could be made to invite excellent candidates to take entry tests and build in exceptions to allow for years of both experience and accomplishment.


Entry Testing


The Coaching School Admission Test (CSAT) would be a collaborative effort set out by the existing top coaches in the world and could be sectioned off in varied sports or not.  The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) states this test is required for admission to most (not all) law schools and is offered at 4 times per year. The top law schools will be looking for scores that are close to perfect. This is one example of what could be done in any industry needing established, universal standards.  


Dictating length of program 


Any length of time could be determined and based on course material set out by the first run of CSAT creators.




Different sports could be a part of this or a decided list of development sports could be included initially.


Final Exam


How well has the material been learned?  It’s understood in many professions that once you get this far it’s difficult to fail.  It’s up to the governing coaches or group of people creating the exam (CSAT) to include all theory or include practical experiences as well. A combination of both theory and practice makes perfect sense for almost all professions. This needs to be a goal when establishing a coaching professional organization.




Cooperative programs that allow people to get their feet wet in areas of their interest and or work alongside established coaches with track records of success is not a bad way to create career interest, regulate readiness for performances and ultimately the success of the industry.  



Final thoughts



Coaching as a career has been excellent for some, lucrative for some and interesting for many people participating in this industry. Formalizing universal standards will not eliminate pitfalls but it will enhance consistency of knowledge and provide greater opportunity for individuals interested in coaching as a career with expected rewards.  The idea behind standardizing and certifications should not illuminate the aspects of the industry that make it unique or worthwhile for those whom have already been contributing and succeeding for years.  Collaboration, re-education and respect among fellow colleagues need to be requirements of this process.  A first step requires someone to lead the way. Conflict will be an initial reality but creating a vision for the future will not only be worthwhile it will operate as a framework for what is possible. 

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Navigating a USA College , University Scholarship 101

The reward and or the possible rewards of an athletic scholarship can be very exciting.

Listed are a few of the positive aspects to gaining an athletic scholarship.

  1. Moving to a new environment that has a full time focus around your sport
  1. Living in a new country or state which has ideal weather and or facilities for all year around outdoor activity
  1. Surrounding yourself with like-minded student athletes that compete at or near the level you are performing at.
  1. Having access to consistent and routine training as well as competition with the appropriate level of performance as you develop.
  1. Gaining financial assistance at school while doing a sport you love both training and competing for.

Athletics are not always a means to an end but rather an activity that might make attending post secondary education more interesting, enjoyable and rewarding.

Try and take advantage of all aspects your chosen school has to offer not just the athletic side of things. Focus on your sport but keep the bigger picture in your radar. This might be easier once your time approaches graduation.

It’s important to understand your priorities before looking or accepting an athletic scholarship. If your primary gain is to excel in your chosen sport, where you attend University or College will require some understanding of the history of that institution, what their priorities as a school are and are your goals in the best interest of the school you plan to attend?

Having some understanding of the schools budget as it pertains to your event is another area where you want to look at. Available online or from the school’s athletic department you will be able to see the records of performance, under who’s guidance and what level of performance has been consistent. Is the school spending enough money to attend the key events? ( who decides what the key events are? Do you understand what the most important events in your sport are? How will you find out if you don’t already know?)

What performance do you need to achieve to be apart of the travel, which delivers you to the competition you require to perform? Knowing this ahead might help you adjust your thinking before you accept a schools offer of scholarship.

Will everyone on the team be treated as an equal ? = This might make things a bit more comfortable and give you time for you to adjust to a new situation especially if you are travelling oversees? How likely is it that every member of the team will be treated equally? What might be some strategies to make the most of where you stand within your new team structure?


Below is a quote from Coach Charlie Francis who attended Stanford in the late 60’s and early 1970’s on an athletic scholarship for the men’s 100 yrd dash. Once ranked number 5 in the world in the men’s 100-meter dash. Francis comments.,


     “ As I approached the end of high school, I knew my destiny pointed south , to the US. The Canadian Universities had little in the way of indoor training facilities and virtually no track scholarships. America represented adventure and opportunity, and I wanted to be apart of it.


     When Stanford began recruiting me, it all sounded promising: The California climate, the best competition and the least the schools head coach, Payton Jordan, who had developed Larry Questad into the 1963 National Collegiate Athletic Association 100 yd. Campion. “ Charlie Francis with Jeff Coplon “ Speed Trap”. Inside the Biggest Scandal in Olympic History 1990 Page 23 ( Stanford) " 


To read more about Coach Francis’s experiences as an athlete, coach and his adventures of his take on his athletic scholarship, take a look here:




To read more about Coach Jordan and what was going on at Stanford at this time take a look at a book by one of Charlie’s team mates James S. Ward and John B. Scott.




My advice to anyone hoping to take advantage of an athletic scholarship is to understand that Universities are a business. A coach is getting paid to get results. Athletes are recruited to win on command. Often there is not much room for error for the school, the coach or the athlete. Many of these variables may make your personal performance secondary to collecting points for the larger team. Finding the best fit of school for you might not necessarily coincide with the schools that are recruiting you.


I would like to make a few more points which will not exhaust the list of points to be made in this conversation.


Point 1 = I did not attend a US school for my track career but it was a dream of mine. Why didn’t I go? My family believed (in error) that the only way to go and take advantage of a US scholarship would be to have it 100 percent funded. I later learned this NEVER happens. There are numerous incidentals outside of the actual “ business deal”.


Point 2 = this point is for all athletes not just scholarship takers or scholarship hopefuls. Use your coach and your family/ friends to gather information and knowledge on “ what to do, in what scenario’s “. Remember YOU are and will be in charge of the execution. Grow up, own your dream and desire and do your part. If and when you succeed at this, you will have succeeded in attaining a very beneficial, life time useful “ life skill”.

Point 3 = my final point made = As an athlete of a team or a member of a new team ( which you need to think of as a business ) the one thing you can do is keep yourself fully and routinely regenerated. Learning to consistently keep yourself 100 percent ready to take full advantage of all training on and off your game is again a life skill ( as per my point # 2).


Note : Readiness to train includes the preparation of your mind, body and nervous system to accept and hopefully adapt to the demands of the work getting administered to you with or without knowing what is to come. Regenerating properly gives you something to control in the face of a multitude of new experiences when away from your home base.


If you would like to understand more about Regenerating for the Men’s 100 meter dash or if you would like to understand more about Effectively regenerating to build speed, strength, agility and athletic dominance take a look a few things here.

To understand the theory read this =



To see the theory in practice / A regenerative workout to replace cardiovascular training if injured or needing to reduce impact




Get in the habit of asking open curious questions about what you need to do to enjoy, take advantage and succeed with or without your athletic scholarship.


I wish you luck and great fun trying .

Should you need any help with any of this send me a note. I’ll do my best to help or point you in a few places to get help.

take care,


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