I have gotten enough questions on the topic of meets, that I thought a group email would be helpful.
We have a EBAL (East Bay Athletic League) Dual (2 schools) meet on Thursday (tomorrow. Below is some information on meets and how league meets are different from Invitational or Open meets.
So your kid’s out for Track and Field
Some of you are returning parents and some of you are brand new to the world of track and field. The Coaching staff wants to welcome you and would like to help you be an integrated part of the team.
It is a fact that athletes who are well supported at home are better athletes on the track. Knowing a little about this sport may give you a chance to relate to your teenager and certainly it will make it more interesting for you. I will give you a great deal of important information, but remember that you know your kid better than any one.
If you have any questions I am here to help! There are a lot of returning parents this year who probably have a kid in your event. They are a wonderful resource.
Track and field 101
The sport of Track and Field is made up of many different events. Some of them are running events, ranging from 100 meters to 3200 meters. The wide range means we have sprinters, mid distance and distance runners. There are also other events that are referred to as the jumps and the throws. So, you would assume that we would have three types of participants, Runners, Jumpers, and Throwers.
These events are held at the track and in areas very close outside of the track. Watching a track meet can be like watching a three-ring circus. There are events going on all over the area at the same time. This makes it difficult sometimes to actually see your kid participate. There are a few tricks and I am going to share all of them with you. There are also care and feeding instructions for an athlete and I will go over that too. Finally there are ways that you can participate in this sport that will help to make it a wonderful year for all of us. You can be active in Track and Field and never cross paths with your kid. So, no need to worry about embarrassing your offspring.
2 Types of meets: league meets and invitationals
League meets are usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays. They usually begin at 4:00 and last until it is over. Which means that if a meet is well run everyone gets home a decent time, say a couple of hours. If there are not enough volunteers, a meet can go very late. Every meet is run in the same order. So once you know what your child is running you will have an idea of what time they will run. Field events are run during the whole meet.
League meets can be dual or double dual meets. There are 10 teams in our league, and sometimes we run against two teams at once. When that happens the score is kept in three ways. A-B, A-C, B-C, so in one evening it is like competing against two teams. This makes it possible to win and lose all at the same time.
Invitationals are usually on Saturday. Each one is hosted by a school who chooses the events that will be run. Events at an invitational are often not the same as a dual meet. There is usually a tent city where the athletes hang out when not getting ready for their events. There is usually some sort of concession stand for treats and t-shirts. Your kid will want a shirt every time and they are usually around $12-20 bucks. These all day events take lots of groceries, and I will cover that later.
Remember that the weather in this area can range from cold to hot to cold in just a few hours. Dressing in layers is always a good idea. You will never regret an extra sweatshirt. Sunscreen is as important as the shoes. Once again you will need to negotiate this with your kid.
Lucky are the parents of track and field kids. There is little to buy. But it is so important to buy the best. Shoes are the most important thing you will ever buy your child, period. Your kids is eventually going to come home and say,” Coach says I need new shoes”. At which you will bristle, because there are 4 pair outside the door.
This is important information, and if you will interpret that to mean “your kid is performing differently with these old shoes, I could see it all the way across the field. One more week in these shoes and you will be taking him to the doctors office not the shoe store.” Shoes are technically designed for the each type of runner, thrower and jumper, that it does take an expert to help you through the jungle. Often there are different types of shoes for different events, Your kid will know where he gets a discount for running on a team I recommend that you go there. They will not let you buy the wrong shoe.
Every athlete is required to wear the exact same uniform while competing. No exceptions. Teams have been disqualified for small infractions. This is not time to be a fashion stand out. Also at all times jewelry is prohibited. So just be aware. Nobody wants to loose a first place finish because someone wore the wrong shorts.
I promise that at least once during the season you will come face to face with a wet and stinky uniform on a Friday night late, or Saturday early, that needs to be washed. So just be prepared, there are no substitutes.
Feeding a Track and Field Athlete-day to day
Here is where you notice the biggest difference in your kid. All at once they will need much more food. Depending in what events your kid participates there could be a huge increase in the calories they burn.
Good healthy food will make good fuel for a hard working body. Remember that the boys are still growing, so they need tons of great fuel. Carbs is the word. Carbohydrates are a great fuel source but don’t forget that fats and proteins are also needed to build and maintain a strong kid and athlete. However, because of the wide range of athletes in Track and Field there is not one answer. The coaches are very well spoken on the topic of what to feed your kid and they will send home information throughout the season. The bottom line is that you know your kid, so you know what they will and won’t eat. You have to do the best you can.
The fact is that if you can keep soda and fast food to a minimum and fruits and vegetables up you will be on the right path. Use your own sense in this matter.
Feeding your athlete on “game day”
Every kid is different and so everything here is a suggestion, pick and choose what you send. On meet days (Thursdays), your kid will need a great lunch. You will have to play with that combination. What ever they eat for breakfast and at noon will be the base of their fuel source at the meet. They will also need to eat sometime before they run. This is a good time for those sports bars or quick snacks. Non-fat is preferred at this time because they will not have time to digest complicated energy sources. Sports drinks are also good at this time. Hydrating prior to racing is so important the body’s reaction to the stress of the event will be mitigated by lots of water in the system.
Invitational meets are an all day affair. You will want to send plenty of things for your kid to munch on. Bagels, crackers, bananas and oranges are staples. Each offering important nutrients to the athletes.
The most important thing you will feed your runner is water. Remember that wet stinking uniform? Soggy shirts and socks. That’s sweat. They must sweat to cool their bodies, but they also must replenish that water. There are all sorts of sports drinks available, they are all good, but they have a lot of electrolytes and salts and while those need to be replaced, a little goes a long way. Your kid can not drink too much water. I find that drink boxes of juice are a fun alternative too. (freeze them) You are getting the water, and fruits and maybe heading off a soda. Fruit is great, especially bananas and oranges which contain important nutrients. All these come in those handy packable containers. Don’t forget the spoons. Home made cookies and cupcakes, rice crispy treats are fun to share.
Buses and other modes of transport
The team will be taking buses often this year. For the invitational meets, parents are responsible for driving their own athlete.
It is important that all the kids ride on the bus to the meets but we ask that students ride home with their parents. However, athletes need to stay until the end of the meet. This ensures that everyone is still around to cheer for the 3200’s and the 4x400. These events are usually very exciting! This is a team sport, the team wins or loses the meet. Individuals score points, and each point is important. Staying until the end to cheer for your teammates helps to build the team spirit. Any exceptions must be granted expressly from the coaching staff.
Watching a meet
Invitationals usually have a program. This is a way for the host team to make a little money and the only way to know what is going on. Since there is not a set order or number of events at the invitational I recommend that you get one or at least sit by someone who has one.
League meets are in the same order, starting with a 4x100 meter relay, and ending with the grand finally the 4x 400 meter relay. Usually it is straight forward, the kid that runs the fastest, jumps higher or throws farther wins.
Relay races are when four runners take turns running and at the end of their turn they hand off a baton. These can be very exciting to watch, there are specific rules for each and breaking one of the rules will disqualify your team. The most important rule of all is to get the baton across the finish line.
Most races are straight forward. The kids line up on the starting line. (That is where all the parents are standing, there will be tables, computers, stairs and who knows what else) There will be someone with an electronic gun. There will be three commands, to your marks, get set and bang.
Once you have a feeling for what a good time is for your kid you may find it fun to run a stop watch during the race. Remember to start the watch when you see smoke from the gun, not when you hear the gun. Light is faster that sound.
Jumpers and throwers are great to watch. Often you can get pretty close. At bigger meets you have to stay in the stands, so spy glasses are a good thing to bring. Cameras with long lens’ work well too. Usually in these events the participants take turns jumping or throwing. The rules are very specific for these events. There might be an exact way something is to be thrown for example the shot put, and the discus. There may be very specific guidelines on how to execute a jump like the triple jump. My suggestion is to ask one of the kids. I highly recommend asking someone else’s kid as you are more likely to get a great lesson.
How you can help this to be a terrific season for your family
We all know that this as every other sport happens because of dedicated coaches who love the sport. They also love our kids. The school does not offer too much beyond the coach and some equipment. The rest is up to the parent volunteers.
Typically there are about 250+ kids out for the sport. That means there are a lot of parents too. If each one of us takes time to help out only one or two times we are golden. There are all sorts of things to do and so I am sure you will find one that suits your schedule.
There is always a need for parents on the day of the meet to time and to help with the field events. You will be given a quick lesson and hopefully paired with an experienced volunteer. This is how you can quickly become an expert in an event.
There are events that happen away from the meets such as carbo loads, awards ceremonies, and fund raisers. Here we need parents who can take charge of an entire event. Or perhaps pair up with several parents for things like carbo loads. There is a sign up genius available at all times and Coach will post opportunities on the web page.
Your kid has chosen to be part of the Track and Field team. (In my opinion, that shows a great deal of good taste and good upbringing) It can be a wonderful opportunity to share something with your kid. It can also be a great way to network with other parents. There is a tremendous amount of work that has to be done, and for the most part the coaches, liaisons and team parents are happy to do it. However it is important that we share some of the responsibility.
If you have any questions, please just ask!
Heather Sheppard -team parent