Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top 10 Tips for being a good Cross Country Coach

We're Going to State!!!
     I don't want to pretend that I am the most amazing Cross Country Coach out there - but I was voted ISL Coach of the Year...  This season was certainly a learning process for me, to say the least, but I think it is important to pass on some of the things I learned throughout this season.

1. A Plan for the Day!
      I know this probably seems like a no brainer but it is harder than one might think to plan out the activities for the practice.  Doing this keeps the flow of practice going, as well as keeping practice on time and helps the runners to hit their goals.

2.  A Back-Up plan for the day!
      Something that could be done inside if the weather unexpectedly turns nasty.  We had a few practices this season where I was flying by the seat of my pants to make sure they had a good workout because what I had planned couldn't happen because of inclement weather.

3.  Spice up the Workouts!
       It is so easy to get bored with the workouts if they are the same thing over and over.  Add in a variety of things like Long Runs, Conditioning, Core Exercises, Speed Work, Fun Runs, etc.

Fun Friday - Yoga and Just Dance!

4. Have consequences!
      This one probably sounds HARSH but it works.  If your team knows in advance if they don't meet certain goals that there will be repercussions, they are more likely to push themselves to do better.  Something we would do were mile repeats. They would be timed on their first mile, I would write down their time, no tell them what it was and then have them run the mile again in which they would have to beat their previous time.  Since I know what their paces are, it was easy to know if they were pushing themselves or not.

5.  Add in Conditioning and Strength Training!
       Alot of Runners do not realize the importance of Strength Training and Conditioing, but it can make a HUGE difference.  Strength training and conditioning improves your overall health and fitness, it helps to prevent injury and increases overall strength.  Core conditioing is key for runners.

       It is super important to track everything so that you know if your runners are improving.  They also like to know stats, how many miles were logged, how many push-ups they did, their best times, etc.  My girls this year logged over 150 miles, 300 push-ups, the biggest improvement was over 6minutes for a 5K and our fastest time was 19:58.

7. Set Goals!
       At the beginning of the season I hand each runner a notecard, that they fill out with the following information: Name, Grade in School, Estimate on current 5K time, Goal 5K time by the end of the season, Top 3 reasons as to why they run.  It is great to periodically look back through the cards during the season and see if their goals have been met, and if we need to set new goals.  At the end of the season I give them back to the runners, so that they can see how far they have come.

8. Cheer for Others!
        There were two things that really amazed me this year... 1. There was a girl who was running completely by herself, she had no other teammates.  One person at each meet to Cheer her on.  She was an incredible runner, so why not cheer for her, even if she is technically competition.  2. I was at a few different meets where runners saw the coaches calling out and writing down times, they asked what their time was and the other coaches completely ignored them.  Why not tell them where they are at?! So I quickly shouted out times to them.  There is nothing wrong with cheering for everyone, it shows you have good sportsmanship! DO IT!!

9. Walk the Walk... Talk the Talk!
        The one thing that I think surprised my team the most was that I would be out there running with them more often than not.  I would run with them, challenging them to push themselves a little harder, a little farther.  Showing my support for those at the front of the pack and those at the back of the pack.  We did a Hill workout the one day and I made them run the hill and then do a large loop once they came back down, I would pick a random runner and challenge them up the hill, just running hill after hill.  It provided good competition and a challenge, "I can't let coach beat me!"

10. Have Fun!!!
         I think this is the most important tip!  This is probably a no-brainer, but it helps to give the runners a little variety in their runs, makes the season more enjoyable and entertaining to say the least.  We did Fun Run Fridays, each Friday had a theme, like Neon day and then a fun activitiy such as a scavenger hunt, a pizza run, etc.  It was so fun to watch the girls get into it!

Fun Run Friday - Halloween Scavenger Hunt!!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

  2. I've always wanted to join some sort of active or fit group, I really need support, and these are great ideas!

  3. Wow - we can only hope that when my daughter is registered in sports and dance that she gets a teacher like you.


  4. Love that - it's so cool to have such great tips for the group of kids

  5. I ran cross country!! What great tips!

  6. These were excellent tips for almost any team sport or competition. I'll bet you are such a fantastic coach.

  7. I can tell you are a great coach and I bet your team loves you for all these great goals you have for them.

  8. i just need to get back into running, period!

    Sandy a la Mode

  9. Great tips for any sport, especially love cheering on your competition.

  10. I wish I am the sporty type! Great tips!

  11. My daughter's coach showed up gave them their numbers and left. That's all he did. He didn't show them how to warm up or anything. I feel like I'm gonna have to coach her. I'm not even in the best shape.

  12. My daughter's coach showed up gave them their numbers and left. That's all he did. He didn't show them how to warm up or anything. I feel like I'm gonna have to coach her. I'm not even in the best shape.


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