Thursday, June 5, 2014

Recruiting Throwers

Mark Baker is the throwing coach at Eaton Rapids High School. He has a good problem.

Coach Baker has three very strong women throwers who are Juniors this year.  His problem is a problem of recruiting throwers for future years. 

Many track events are relays or multi-team events.  Those events limit the number of participants from each school to keep the length of the event manageable.  Even so, track meets seem to last forever.

That means that the throwers who are developing rarely get the pay-off of competing.

A Modest Proposal

Each returning Senior is given three rubber, practice disks.  She is expected to give them to younger women who they believe have potential be contribute to the throwing program. 

The rules for the senior is that she can give all three to a Freshman and be done.  Or, she can give a maximum of two to a Sophomore and a maximum of one to a Junior.  Or she can find three Juniors and give them one each.

The expectation is that the young woman will return the the disks by showing up to the track practice and attempting to throw them over the 20' line (for women).  I pulled 20' out of my rear because I think there is a 50% chance that a newbie woman thrower will clear that mark. 

Fifty Percent is near the sweet spot for motivation.  People are not motivated when things are absolutely impossible.  People are also not motivated when things are too easy (Let me see you drop this disk and hit the ground).  Go to a playground and watch the basketball court.  The distance that players gravitate to for practice shooting is usually the distance where the are making aabout 50% of their shots. Coach Baker will have a better handle on the 50% newbie value.

The athletes can meet the coach and the other throwers.  They will feel welcomed because they were invited.  The coaches can get a look at the athletes and start to cultivate the fire-in-the-belly, the desire for excellence.  Even marking each throw recognizing any improvement...even if it is only six one way to demonstrate the path to mastery.

Addressing the issue of not being able to compete

Most golfers never compete at a professional level.  But they are exquisitely aware of how their history on every hole of every course they have played.

Golfers are competing against history, their own history.

Charting each athlete's performance would stoke the same engine.  Simply graphing the best throw (the high water mark) of each practice for each athlete would demonstrate both their growth as an athlete and the upper end of their current potential.  It will also demonstrate that even the best throwers have bad days.  Those are all things that encourage young athletes.

1 comment:

  1. I see a bigger problem, and that is that kids are less fit and less desirous of actually participating in anything other than texting/gaming on the computer.