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Aug 21 2018 - Meet Julia Loparco ANBs new Director of Run Jump Throw Wheel & Intro Programs

Athletics New Brunswick is pleased to announce the hiring of Saint John’s Julia Loparco as our new Director of Run Jump Throw Wheel & Intro Programs beginning work this week.

Julia is currently finishing her degree in International Development Studies from Saint Mary’s University. She comes to us with an abundance of volunteer and coaching experience in youth sports such as speed skating and athletics. She has worked for the City of Saint John for 2 years as a Playground Supervisor, and the Halifax Regional Municipality’s Emera Oval as a Skating Monitor and Supervisor for the last 3 years. Recently, Julia has spent her last 3 summers as a Run Jump Throw Wheel Coordinator with ANB.

In her new role with ANB, she will work closely with staff and volunteers to implement and enhance introductory programs in Athletics at the provincial level. This will involve working with athletics clubs, schools and community organizations to engage young people ages 6+ in physical activity and particularly the sport of track and field through the Run, Jump, Throw, Wheel program.

This position is funded through a partnership between Athletics NB, Athletics Canada, and the Saint John Track and Field Club.


May 9 2017 - Reframing the multi-sport participation model for the track and field athlete

As a coach who has worked with development athletes from multiple provinces, teams, organizations, and groups who have taken part in dozens of activities at the same time I can fully attest to the craziness and questions that arise when trying to balance it all. However, I fully support a multi-sport environment and dealing with the craziness as the variety of experiences for the developing athletes in their middle and high school years are a proven beneficial fact. But the question then shifts to how the high school athlete fits it all in?

Framing my answer from the viewpoint of a track and field coach in my opinion there isn’t a right answer. Track coaches can’t bench their players or threaten them with decreased playing time so we are usually just happy to see the athletes on the days that they come. I only wish that other sports supported embracing a balance as much as we do. However, this approach is a compromise and comes with an understanding from the coach, athlete, and support team (parents, etc) that every choice comes with consequences. So, the question then becomes why do we participate in track and field training at all? If the athlete is going to soccer, baseball/softball, hockey, and basketball aren’t they doing more than enough to be fit and still compete well? The short answer is usually yes, they are. They are getting a number of training boxes checked and this is why we want multi-sport participation and also why we see multi-sport athletes who have never done track come out and still be successful over others. But where does track fit and why should we prioritize it to attend two to three practices per week?

This comes from the development aspects of learning and specific training that enhances the team sport. I’ll start with the second. Track and Field is one of the purest sports around and the requirements of sprinting as fast as possible or doing intervals are usually not done in the same manner as a team sport so the training effect isn’t as significant. Running is running but which running workout is going to have the biggest impact on increasing performance in all sports – running at basketball or maximum speed sprinting at track? One of those will help with both while the other will barely move the needle in the other. If we go back to the first example of learning the situational demands and well-rounded approach to development that occur in track practice – warm up, medicine ball throws, specific strengthening through bands and tubes, running mechanics, technical drills, some energy system manipulation (fast sprinting or specific intervals), and then a structured cool down that increases flexibility, range of motion, and increases the prevention of injuries are rarely done in the team sport environment. In the case of track and field practice it is the practice that benefits all the other sports. Track will positively impact hockey. Track will positively impact basketball. Track will positively impact soccer. Track will positively impact baseball/softball. Can the same be said about a baseball/softball practice having a positive impact on hockey to the same extent? Usually not but as always there are exceptions and reasons as to why we want to shift the priorities in that that multi-sport involvement.

In closing I, as a coach, want to be involved in a multi-sport long term athlete development program where athlete participation in a number of activities is supported and then decreases in the late teens as performance goals become clearer and opportunities with a greater chance of success become evident. However, with an increasing number of opportunities comes an increase in stress and costs in making those decisions based around which one do I skip today? What will happen if I skip ______ (insert sport)? What happens if I skip track? While track will still miss out more often than team sports perhaps we should look at track as the primary training for all those other sports and the glue that links success between them all together. Athlete experiences and performance are better in their team sport because of track so keep the track going and keep the performance in the team sport increasing. I have seen too often the situation where the track athlete goes to a team sport where they are initially successful only followed by reduction in team sport level success because they stopped coming to track in order to only focus on the team sport. They stopped doing what made them good in the first place. A balance must be reached and hard decisions made but track is the foundation for success so try to make sure it is being prioritized accordingly.

This article is the seventh of a monthly segment called Coaching Connection. If you are looking for additional ideas or assistance with any of the details above, do not hesitate to reach out. Additionally, ideas for future topics are encouraged or if you would like to contribute to this monthly activity please contact a member of the staff at Athletics New Brunswick.


Apr 12 2017 - Coaching Better Every Season

Keeping last month’s book theme going comes a sure-fire, must read for any coach. Coaching Better Every Season by Dr. Wade Gilbert (2017) provides a year-round system for athlete development and program success.

The book is broken down into four parts – Preseason (Envision), In-Season (Enact), and End of Season (Evaluate), and Off-Season (Enhance) which guide the reader through the book and provide a link to the regular coaching schedule/process. Through each of these time periods coaches are provided with real world, practical examples used by legendary coaches, past and present.

As the indoor track and field season has recently came to a close with the end of season bringing a period of evaluation for programs utilized. It is also important to remember that a period of time away from the track, pit, circle, or mat and coaching should be part of the plan.  This period away will allow the coaching battery (mental, physical, and emotional) to recharge as the busy summer season approaches. This short period of time is not an extended off season where we have weeks or months to evaluate, analyze, reflect, and plan how to enhance and envision athlete development. This two to six weeks should narrow in on focused evaluations and reflection that bridge the two seasons, reflecting on what was learned, and coming up with a few performance enhancement strategies for the outdoor season that are deemed effective and appropriate for the athlete/group (i.e. Long Term Athlete Development considerations).

When analyzing the indoor track and field season at the individual level it is easy to use objective criteria – medals, records, and personal bests. If the athlete is happy, healthy, and improving then it is hard to say that the season was not a success. However, at the group level while the same measures can be used to determine if the general physical development programs were effective subjective areas surrounding group dynamics should also be examined. How was the culture of the group? Was the group excited to come to practice and complete all requirements laid out for them? Is the group environment one where athletes communicate positively, openly, and honestly?  Do they share the journey with one another where the athletes congratulate one another on completing a hard workout and support one another when they just can’t finish that hard work out?  How about analyzing the coaching process? Did you arrive to practice with enough time to set up what was needed for the practice and monitor the warm up effectively? Were your instructions clear and accurate? Were you positive, motivating, and building life and sport confidence in your athletes? Evaluation should not focus on just the athlete. Self-analysis and reflection are an integral part of becoming a better coach as the book shares.

This book is a must have for any coach. It cannot be stressed enough how beneficial it can be in terms of highlighting the multifaceted nature of coaching. The topics, examples, templates, and guides are hugely beneficial for any coach. While the X’s and O’s are commonly focused on by coaches and courses there is so much behind the athlete, the coach, the program, and the culture that determines success. I would highly recommend this book for all coaches.

Additionally, Dr. Gilbert operates a Facebook page where he posts stories, videos, and examples of coaches and programs who display positive practical coaching that you can learn from.

https://www.facebook.com/CoachingBetterEverySeasonByWadeGilbert/

This article is the sixth of a monthly segment called Coaching Connection. 

2018-08-21 - Meet Julia Loparco ANBs new Director of Run Jump Throw Wheel & Intro Programs
2017-05-09 - Reframing the multi-sport participation model for the track and field athlete
2017-04-12 - Coaching Better Every Season
2017-03-06 - Practice & Teaching
2017-02-06 - Practice #s During a Workout

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