Helpful Insight As Athletes Target Offseason Development

* An aerial shot of Mike Myers Stadium, which is the site of the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Champiponships

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

By Robert Marchetti - MileSplit Contributor

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All over the United States, the final meets on the high school track and field calendar are wrapping up.

For those athletes who reached many of their goals this season, it is a satisfying feeling all around. Others, however, may feel as if they have a long way to go to be as competitive as they aspire to be in the sport. In either case, there will be another track season next year and another chance to enjoy and develop in the sport.

As classes are ending and student-athletes are being dismissed for summer vacation, it is more important than ever to stay involved in the sport during the summer break and fall.

Here are some reasons why.


If you are a distance runner, the summertime is your pre-season conditioning phase for fall cross country season. Coaches often are allowed to call practices in the few weeks leading up to the first day of school, but that is not long enough to become fit for the initial fall meets.

Runners who want to improve must put the mileage in during the summer months. This means running on your own or meeting in groups voluntarily during much of the summer.


Camps can actually be either day clinics or in some cases a week long with overnight stays.

At camps or clinics, there is an emphasis on skill acquisition. Athletes can learn the basic fundamentals that they may be lacking in their events. Most states have some sort of local track clinics or camps that can be found using an internet search. In addition, some camps are so good that athletes travel out of state to attend them because of the unique line-up of staff members.

Camps or Clinics many times can open up a new way of looking at things that aid in runners, jumpers, and throwers coming to a more astute understanding of their events and how to approach them from a technical standpoint.


If athletes are still trying to break through a barrier in their event, or they want more competition experience, or just simply to have fun, they can extend their outdoor track and field season a little longer by competing in the summer.

One of the nice features of summer competitions is entering one or two events, competing and leaving right afterword. Since an athlete is not with their school's team, they do not have to stay for the entire meet waiting until everyone is finished before heading home on a bus.

Registration for summer meets is easily done online and event information by state or region can be found by searching here or also by checking one's local USATF association page for their track and field calendar. Local associations can be found here.

Personal best marks achieved in summer meets still count for an athlete's resume and college recruiters will accept the legitimacy of marks if they are achieved in a real competition -- even in the summer.


For athletes who strictly focus on indoor and outdoor track events, they often do not compete in cross country in the fall. If they are not involved in a fall school sport such as soccer or football, the fall is the best time during their off-season to complete a pre-season conditioning and learning phase to prepare for indoor.

Fall training gives athletes a leg up so that they come into the first day of practice -- usually after Thanksgiving -- in a better state of fitness and sharper in their skills than the year before. Sitting around doing nothing from September through the middle of November makes it harder to be truly prepared for indoor season.

Since schools often do not hold formal fall practices, participation in off season track training is often times done with a track club, which athletes can utilize also during summer season as well, or with private coaching in either 1-on-1 or group settings.

The best way to find a local track club or private coach is using an internet search for key words such as "private coaching" or "track clubs in my area" and by including a zip code in the search.

Make sure to double check the reputation of these organizations or individuals. A background check is a key component to start to narrow your choices down. Websites such as mandate that all coaches who list their services there have passed a background check.

Putting together an eight to 12 week pre-season training regiment together with a coach can be an invaluable source of improvement. Some training groups or clubs meet together once or twice per week, while others meet for daily practices.


Self-motivation can keep track athletes involved in many constructive ways in the off-season.

Online video sources such as Youtube offer a great collection of videos that one can watch to pick up ideas. Watching coaching lectures, documentaries or clips of world class track meet coverage is a way for viewers to pick up concepts of the sport.

Alternative or supplementary training is important.

Perhaps joining a gym or fitness center and signing up for instruction on proper lifting techniques that can be used in the weight room for the next season.

Rest is also important. While taking six months off between the end of spring season and the next indoor season is a bad idea, it is not necessary to go non-stop 12 months per year either. Even the most serious of athletes take a month to two months off at some point in the year-usually in the time period of the year just before starting fall training.

Lastly, if one has injuries left over from the recent season, they can seek services of a certified sports doctor or certified therapist to address injury solutions before serious training starts again.

Keeping healthy and as injury free as possible is a key ingredient to having productive training and meet performances.


Robert Marchetti, a former NCAA Division I track coach at Columbia University, and Rider University, is a private track and field coach located in Hamilton, New Jersey. For more information, you can email him at You can visit his website at