Coach Who?

Every state struggles with it - athletes seeking out coaching from people other than their high school coaches to help enhance their training and reach bigger PR's. It's not just in T&F either.... states all over the US have to navigate the waters of AAU opportunities, camps, and off-season competitions in many sports. But in the sport of track and field, we face a unique challenge in these situations. Athletes can only train so much. They simply cannot go to a practice held with their team and run 5 miles then go to a practice with an outside coach and do a hard workout... they will not make it to May healthy.

The IAHSAA and IGSHAU provide rules and regulations for high schools on how many times coaches can meet with athletes during the off-season and what constitutes an "official practice." In the end, these rules are there to protect the athletes from year-round practices and over training, but presents a difficulty with coaches in the sports of XC/T&F. A runner's abilities, particularly for distance runners, increases with the ability to train consistently over a long period of time. Therefore, many coaches provide optional training opportunities for their athletes, though not all do. These opportunities are generally just a time and meeting place, allowing the athletes to decide their distance, pace, weight circuits, etc. with some suggestions from the coach. Some coaches are not able to provide these opportunities if they are coaching other winter sports, leaving the athletes to choose whether or not they train at all. Hence, athletes either seek out alternative coaches to help structure their off-season training, or they may not train at all. 

While it is most definitely beneficial for an athlete to have the opportunity to train year-round, this dynamic puts many coaches in a very tough position. Their athletes are not really "their athletes." They will spend half of the year training with a different coach during some of the most optimal base training months of the year. Whether or not these opportunities are right or wrong is a whole different ball game. Personally, I don't have an answer. I think it's a tough situation with a lot of gray area. Therefore, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter...

- Should athletes be allowed to train with outside coaches during the off-season? Should the be able to supplement with an outside coach while in-season as well?
- Should coaches at one school be able to coach athletes from another school during the off-season?
- Should coaches be allowed to host official and/or unofficial practices during the off-seasons?
-How would you structure it to help athletes take advantage of prime training months without increasing the risk of over training (physically and mentally)?
- Do you think it does more harm or good for an athlete to train with a separate coach in the off-season? 
- Do you think it does more harm or good for coaches to hold unofficial practices during the off-season?

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