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Feb 6 2017 - Practice #s During a Workout

As previously discussed, the recording of competition data is an important piece in assessing athlete development. This information can be used to guide key performance indicator development, goals within the daily practice environment, and help shape individual workout items. When integrated as practice numbers the details can provide further insight into plans, purpose, and athlete priorities during training situations.

A few common workout/practice numbers that will be explored are the following:

-       Distance

-       Intensity

-       # Contacts

-       # Throws

-       Rest Intervals


            Distance is a common metric to be recorded from practice situations. When running during a timed run the distance can be recorded giving an indication on velocity capacities. Jumpers can record how much distance was covered in a certain number of bounds, hops, or jumps. Throwers and horizontal jumpers might record the distances of the day’s throws/jumps to determine the farthest performance along with the average. This average number can be quite useful depending on the goals of the workout and training phase. For throwers, this can also be valuable in managing abilities with heavier or lighter implements highlighting developmental needs.


            Intensity is a common parameter found within workouts but its assessment is sometimes for subjective than objective. For sprinters and hurdlers this can take a more objective outlook by determining their velocity (how fast they are travelling in meters/second) as determined by their distance/time. For example, if the athletes best thirty-meter fly (a common metric for maximal velocity sprinting) is 3.32seconds their maximum velocity is approximately 9.03m/s. If the athlete, then performs a 22.50 second 150m run the average velocity would be 6.66m/s giving us an approximate average intensity of roughly 73.8% of the athlete’s maximum velocity capabilities. While this level of detail is not only applicable to sprinters and hurdles, it can be used for all athletes and especially useful when returning from an injury. For endurance athletes, the use of intensity most commonly involves running intervals at a percentage, higher for lower, of their race pace goals. For the jumps and throws this becomes slightly more subjective analysis and based off of the coach’s program design but throwing with an underweight implement could be viewed as a lower intensity day or taking jumps from a short approach. However, depending on the volume and mental investment on this short approach jump or light implement throw the intensity could still be quite high.

# of Contacts

            For jumpers, this is a common metric that is measured but it can be used by all who utilize jumping activities. For the jumper, they might do sets and reps of bounds and hops where contacts are the main parameter (3x10x10 Hops per leg) or six take offs from their left leg. Very simply it is how many jumps or foot contacts take place. If athletes are doing hurdle rebounds (hurdles placed a set distance apart from the legs and the athlete jumping over top of one landing and jumping over the next) it is easy to calculate. Eight hurdles would be eight landings and if the athlete is doing six sets that would be forty-eight total contacts. For running, if an athlete is coming back from injury and we want to progressively increase the number of running contacts they take during a workout we could measure their stride length and determine how many contacts occur over a given distance. For example, if the athletes sub maximum running stride length is approximately 1.8 meters a fifty-meter run would result in approximately twenty-eight strides or fourteen contacts per foot.

# of Throws

            Many throws coaches will count the number of throws in practice to determine and monitor volumes however for those also using throwing modalities it is an important number to keep track of. If the athletes throw medicine balls or shot puts for athletic development reasons they should be recorded. Did the athlete do twenty forward squat heaves or did they do fifty and how much did the implement weigh? These numbers and differences are valuable pieces of information especially when determining competition and taper plans. When combined with an intensity metric (distance that the implement is thrown) an approximate overall training load can be determined.

Rest Intervals

            While rest intervals are usually a secondary thought they are extremely important when determining density patterns of the workout. These density patterns of work to rest can influence the athlete’s perception of workload and overall focus on quality within the workout item. Let’s use a sprinter, endurance runner, jumper, and thrower with each having to perform five runs or jumps or throws. If the time between each repetition was only sixty seconds that might lend itself to lower intensity activities very suitable for a runner where endurance is being developed but if we elaborated on the other events and said it is a maximal effort flying thirty, a full approach long jump, or competition effort javelin throw this would raise red flags as to the purpose of the workout and its intended effects on competition performance as well as having an increased likelihood of injury. If the time between each repetition was eight minutes that might lend itself to a higher intensity where the sprinter doing the flying 30m, the jumper doing the full approach long jump, or the thrower doing the competition effort javelin would have a greater importance and make much more sense in terms of development of competition performance while the endurance runner would be looking for high quality efforts at greater proximity or even exceeding race paces.

The above information is merely a snapshot of examples that through further reflection, inspection, and analysis can help the coach identify numbers used in practice to guide the goals, developmental needs, and focus of the athlete and support staff within the daily training environment. However, it must be reiterated that individual numbers are unique to the coach, athlete, training phase, goals, and developmental needs of the individual. The importance of the numbers is found through the process of identifying them and impacting the focus, understanding, and pursuit of key performance indicators within the athlete development plan.

This article is the third 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 and if you would like to contribute to this monthly activity please contact Coaching Education Director Jason Reindl at

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