By Steve Faber | Posted 3/17/2016
The simple answer to why your football coach wants you to run track is because it makes you a better athlete, but it goes deeper than that.
Running has been a mainstay of football conditioning since the beginning. What better way to improve complex running skills than being on the track team?
The timing is perfect with track being the fourth sports season in most high schools and middle schools. That makes it a natural lead-in to spring football or summer camp.
Here are seven reasons why your high school football coach wants you to run track this spring and be better prepared for what’s ahead.
Improve top end speed. Track develops speed and explosiveness, both vital to excel in football. Sprints, jumping events and field events improve coordination, acceleration and top end speed. Some high schools have excellent speed coaches who are worth their weight in gold. Sprinting involves technique, and many young athletes haven’t had the opportunity to work with an actual speed coach before joining their high school track program.
Drop your 40 time. While the 40-yard dash in and of itself has little to do with football, there are practical reasons to want faster 40s. A quicker 40 at a combine-style event can move the needle in your favor. Social media has helped this somewhat, with many excellent speed trainers posting instructional videos on YouTube and Instagram. That being said, there’s nothing like a coach evaluating your stride and your start to find room for improvement.
Better off the line speed and acceleration. Developing solid starting skills helps build explosiveness for football, too. That can add inches to your vertical, help with acceleration off the line and acceleration while running. You’ll reach top speed sooner – hopefully sooner than your competition.
Competition. An often overlooked aspect to playing multiple sports is competition. Working against others is always a good way to improve. Running track for three months in the spring keeps athletes involved in competitive events leading into the football season.
Easier speed. Learning proper running form does more than simply make you faster. It helps you run faster while using less energy. Your running form is more efficient. That can pay huge dividends in the fourth quarter.
Cardio and improved energy usage. Track improves endurance and develops cardiovascular performance. Muay Thai fighters regularly do six-mile runs as part of their training. While no play in football goes anywhere near that long, researchers discovered those runs help open aerobic energy pathways that let them use energy more efficiently. Moral of the story? Don’t be so quick to ignore those 5K cross country runs just yet. They may not make you faster, but if they can improve energy availability and help you perform better later in games.
Following in strong footsteps. It’s often said that to achieve a goal, do what others did to reach it. Many elite college players ran track in high school. In fact, many did several sports. There is plenty of crossover skill development gained playing basketball or running track that will help improve your football game. Of the 332 college football players invited to the 2016 NFL Combine, 89 percent played multiple sports in high school, according to data from TrackingFootball.com. Track and field was the dominant one with more than half on their high school track teams. If it’s good enough for them, maybe it’s a good idea for you too.
There are some excellent reasons to be on your school’s track team this spring. It will make your football coach happy, and you’ll play better in the fall.
Steve Faber is a freelance writer and content strategist who’s been marketing online since a stint with a high profile e-commerce start up during the first Internet boom. His firm, Most Pixels Marketing, works with organizations to create content and formulate effective content strategies to get noticed, engage customers and drive sales. His son just finished playing his fifth football season this fall and is looking forward to high school ball next year. Catch him at http://www.mostpixels.com.