OPINION-Last year the men’s track and field team came in fourth place, while the women came in 10th at the SBC indoor championships. The outdoor season that was supposed to follow was canceled due to COVID-19.
This year, Louisiana was able to compete in the indoor championships again, but how should a track and field athlete prepare for such a monumental day?
Just like any sport, practice makes perfect. There are many different track and field events and competitors in each event should prepare for their respective events accordingly.
Distance runners should practice in order to build up their stamina. Leading up to the championships, they should not just rely on practices held by their coach. Running at least a mile every day would be beneficial, but increasing that mile every week leading up to the event would be even more beneficial.
For short-distance runners, their focus should be more on building up their speed. They want to have the shortest time possible at the championships in order to win. This means doing short-distance self-timed runs trying to beat your speed each time. Again, these practices should happen on your own time after regular practice.
Those competing in hurdles should do a combination of both, with the addition of adding objects to jump over and partaking in box jumps.
Those involved in the high jump or long jump events should focus on not overworking their leg muscles. Ice at night if your legs are sore, stretch before and after practice and work on jumping higher and longer than the day before. This may be difficult to practice on your own time, so maybe ask your coach to come early or stay late after practice to work on your own.
Another case where you might have to go before or stay after practice is in the case of field competitions such as the hammer throw or javelin throw. You could potentially borrow equipment from your coach if allowed. Focus on practicing your throw technique and making sure your main throwing arm stays okay. That means, ice if it’s sore, stretch before and after and lift weights to help build muscle.
No matter what event you’re doing, you should also be sleeping well, eating right and drinking lots of water to stay in your best physical condition.
To best prepare for competition don’t forget your mental health; you not only have to prepare physically but also mentally. One way I’ve found to not stress too much is by listening to music.
When I used to play sports, I would always listen to music before playing a game. There were two specific songs I had to listen to before every game to get hyped. If something like music helps you, find a few songs that get you most energized and stick to those. If music isn’t for you, maybe reading a book or watching a video could be your go-to.
If you still have bad nerves or concerns going into the championship, make sure to talk to your coach, teammates or someone you trust early on. You don’t want things to come crashing down on the day of the meet.
The day before the actual meet, get some rest early to prepare for the next day. On the day of, don’t forget to stay hydrated, eat a small meal a few hours prior to your competition and stretch.
These tips should help the track and field team prepare for a great outcome. After the SBC Indoor Championships come the NCAA Championships and the same rules apply.