One of the best things about track and field is the lack of politics involved. In general, everyone gets the same opportunities to compete……with one exception – relays. As coaches, we do our very best to make sure everyone has a fair chance and understands how relay teams are chosen. We’ve talked about it at the parent meetings and we have discussed it in our team meetings several times. Now that the season is underway and athletes and parents start thinking about the championship season, it is a good time to go over the goals of what we are trying to do and how we as coaches make the decisions about our relay teams.
So, a few of our goals with the relay teams:
- Field a top relay(s) team that can compete at the Championship meets
- Have reasonably balanced teams for the remainder of the teams
- Give every athlete the opportunity to run on a relay if they choose (try not to leave the same athletes off the teams multiple times)
With those goals, there are factors that come in to play that are not as black and white as we’d like. Some of the factors that come into play when picking our top teams are:
- Fastest times run in open races (100m for the 4×100 and 400m for the 4×400)
- Ability to execute a handoff reliably and effectively
- Dependability at both practice and at meets (no showing for a relay at a meet that the athlete signed up for without any heads up will be a tough hole to dig out of)
- Regularity of running the relay at previous meets
- Special ability in an area such as starting or running curves, etc.
Some things that will not be used as factors to determine relay teams:
- Running with friends
- Having run together as a team in previous age groups
To understand the process of how teams are chosen every week – on Friday evening, we look at the sign up sheet and try to put together the relay teams based on the information above (if you want to run a team, you need to sign up for the relay at practice). Typically, there are athletes that are left off of a team because we have odd numbers. First thing in the morning, at the meet we try to recruit athletes to fill those teams. Once we are on the field, warming up, the teams are set. There are usually at least 30 athletes we are juggling so it is a very stressful time. We sincerely apologize if ever an athlete feels left out or excluded. If that happens, we will do our best to make sure the following meet, that athlete has priority on a team and will not be left out.
We really want to make sure our entire team feels included in the relays if they choose to run them. We want every athlete to understand we are all one team and that everyone deserves the same opportunity to be on a relay team. The coaches have a very challenging job with so many talented athletes to balance building competitive relay teams with the fairness and team unity aspect we are trying to develop. Please encourage our athletes to show support for whoever is on their relay teams and be welcoming to all athletes.