Ultimate Guide to Coaching Youth Track and Field

Teaching Basic Track and Field Skills

Your athletes may think their legs are the most important part of their body for running, but in actuality the whole body works together to run quickly. Instruct runners to pump their arms, and remind them that when the right leg is forward, the left arm should be forward and the right arm should be back. Leaning forward and lifting the knees will feel natural for runners, but it's important for athletes to tune into these motions and emphasize them for extra speed [source: Y-Coach].

Hurdlers should follow the natural motion of their bodies, too. To clear hurdles, hurdlers must know to lead with their knees and reach toward the toes of the lead leg with the opposite arm. Tell hurdlers to lean forward slightly and keep their eyes focused on the next hurdle [source: Y-Coach].

Relay racers will need to practice their running form and the form they'll use when exchanging the baton -- athletes should grasp the baton at one end to ensure a smooth hand-off. Mark off checkpoints on the track so runners can see where the exchange zone begins and ends. These marks should be catered to each hand-off and based on the speeds of the incoming and outgoing runners [source: Y-Coach].

Just as the motion of the entire body is important for running, the whole body is behind throwing the shot put or discus. To throw the discus, have your athletes start by practicing with a standing throw and then move on to a half throw. Once they've mastered the half throw, they can move on to a full throw. The athlete's arm will act as a lever, with the legs and torso propelling the discus forward. For the shot put, the athlete should begin by holding the shot next to his or her neck. As the athlete pushes off, momentum from the legs and hips will send the shot flying -- the arm merely serves as a guide [source: Track Field Events].

To learn more about throwing the shot put and discus, as well as other track and field events, read the next page about athletic equipment.