Olsson’s presentation at the Windsprint made me think about the classic need to run through the line? How do we engage athletes?
There are a number of reasons why I use electronic timing; increased arousal in the athlete is I think the most compelling. I like the accuracy for intervention, I like the ability to time multiple athletes simultaneously, I like the ability to automatically time both the splits and recovery times, and I like the ability to stand anywhere and focus my attention on anything. These are all attributes that help me to coach. But most important, I like how electronic timing can be used to help the athlete.
I began using electronic timing about ten years ago when coaching speed development for the local girls soccer teams. Girls U10 through U17 soccer players are not that keen on running sprints, but I quickly discovered that setting up the timing equipment created an entirely different dynamic. In short, they loved it. They not only competed against each other, but they competed against their number one rival—their personal best.
Since then, I’ve discovered any number of ways to help athletes with their training. Your comments on the backside are one such example. (You do what you practice, a lesson apparently hard-learned by Phelps.) When setting up for the 200, I sometimes include a split at the last 30 meters. When the athlete sees the sensor at the 170 and hears the beep as they pass it, it’s a psychological aid that helps keep the hips in good position through that last 30 meters and across the finish line.
Brooks Johnson talks about the ballistic athlete’s need for immediate gratification. In the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of coaches and athletes in a wide range of sports including track, field sports, BMX, downhill mountain biking, bobsled, and motocross. This compelling desire for immediate feedback during training sessions is a common theme across all these and other sports that can be used to enhance an athlete’s training.