Event placements

ITCCCA Philosophy/Ideas 5 Comments

Hi! I was wanting some insight on how you or others place athletes in various events. I coach junior high students who are new to the sport. I allow them to indicate to me what their interests are: throws, sprints, distances, etc. I use common sense and view their abilities to place them in events I feel they can 1) be successful and 2) help the team.

I do move around our younger athletes throughout the season trying to fine tune where they fit best.

My issue comes towards the time when invitationals, conference meet, and sectionals come around. I’m limited to place only two athletes per event and some kids get cut. It’s the hard truth. I have parents always disliking my choices when their child gets cut. I’d like a system that irons out all those choices for me and there is no grey area.

I also take into consideration their work ethic, sportsmanship, and other factors (such as dedication to the team) along with times/distances.

Do you have any suggestions?

I know our cross country coach weighs each meet…they carry more weight as the season progresses. So an athlete that tails off in the end of the season doesn’t take a slot away from an athlete that is getting better as the season goes on. Does that make sense?

I could install some system like that but since I move kids around for the first month or so, it’s hard to really be fair. Cross country is simply running the same distance…no grey area.

I wanted to know a system you or someone else you know used to select athletes when we are limited in the numbers. Thanks for your time!

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Comments 5

  1. Make sure all the kids get to participate by having several meets. Have run offs for spots and have them often. In some of the smaller meets let the younger kids run and use that day for the kids that are running in the big meets to fill in events you do not have full or do a workout. You don’t want to loose a 6 grade kid that has not even hit puberty. Have practices where they younger slower kids get to race in relays etc. But for the big meets the best should run.

  2. Post

    It sounds like you are doing a lot of things right already. You are never going to please everyone. The great thing about our sport is that we are able to make very objective decision based on the fact that all results are measured. It appears to me that you are doing all the things that need to be done. You are moving kids around and trying them in different events to see where their talents lie.
    One thing I might suggest is to have a heptathlon competition (shot, long jump, high jump, 100, 400, hurdles & 800) on your team early in the season. Offer T-shirts for the top 5 finishers or something like that. This may help give you an earlier idea of where your kids talents may lie. We do something like this for our freshman and sophomores just to try to get a better idea of their abilities. You could run it in two days. Four events on one day, three events on the next day.
    I would also recommend to let the parents and the kids know from the very beginning of the season that the squad will be reduced during the tournament time of the season. The reason for this is that you can only use two athletes per event and one relay so not as many athletes are required and since the other kids won’t be able to compete there is no need for them to keep practicing. Tell them that if they don’t make this “Tournament Squad” they are not cut, their season is just over. They athletes who don’t make it at the end of the season still get all the credit for a complete season they are just done earlier than the other kids.
    I hope this helps you out in some way.
    Jim Aikens

  3. It does sound like you’re doing a lot of things right. I had a situation in cross country a few years ago where we had to use one of our alternates for the state meet. The last meet our alternates ran in was our conference meet and one of the alternates blew the others away by about a minute. He was our obvious choice, but the parent of one of the other alternates said it was unfair because his son was disappointed to not be running at state so he didn’t run his best at conference. He thought since his son was the first runner out for our sectional roster that he would be the first alternate for state regardless of what happened since that point.

    Since that issue we have always had a running top 7 for the team to let kids know where they stand. We basically just take the top times for the kids and rank them so it’s pretty easy to do compared to some of the minutiae you need to get into for the state series. I think Coach Aikens touched on the key thing. Make sure the athletes, and especially the parents, know how the post-season roster will work from the start of the season. You will still get complaints, but most of the parents will understand if you make it clear from the start.

  4. Post

    I never coached junior high but from what you said you have taken the right approach, that said let me throw out a few things. ( 1 ) parents (complaining) comes with the territory, ( 2 ) what is your objective? winning the conference or developing future track people. You never know how they will develop in the next few years, ie I had a girl who couldn’t walk and chew gum as a freshman and the head coach told me to make her a hurdler and in her junior year she won the Mid-Suburban League 300 hurdles championship, and ( 3 ) look at the body shape and usually you can figure out what events the kid will be best in.
    Good luck in the coming season and I hope this helped at least a little.

    Chuck Morgan

  5. I feel your pain!!! I’m in the same situation with conference meet followed a week later by qualifying for a slot a state finals (IESA). My team comprises of 5th thru 8th grade boys and girls. In the past, I’ve gotten all of my kids into each of the above mentioned meets but at a cost to performance vs experience. Since our conference meet allows me to have more entries than sectionals do, I stack as many kids into the conference meet. For sectionals I address the team as a whole and tell them the event limitations and that only 2 will go into those slots. I do put kids into events such as some relays that we don’t have a high chance of performing well in, It’s not as cold-hearted as it could easily be, but that’s the compromise i’ve found.

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