Learning from Coaching Mistakes

It is not uncommon for college athletes to later become a coach for either a high school, college, or recreational sports program.  Tim McLoone, who competed for Harvard in the 1960’s, became a high school cross-country coach at Rumson Fair Haven in New Jersey (see image).  He taught his athletes many things that he learned when he raced at Harvard, but he said the most important thing he taught them was something his previous coach did wrong: how to taper before meets.  McLoone shared the story with ESPN for their online article on “Get Smart: Coaches Develop Winning Formulas through Experience, Listening”.  Had his cross-country team tapered correctly before the 1968 NCAA Cross-Country Championships, McLoone felt his team could had done much better.

This past year during the high school cross-country season, McLoone and his co-coach Henry Mercer kept the training intensity up while adjusting the amount of runningthat was done throughout the season until the New Jersey Meet of Champions.  The Wednesday before the meet, the RFH team did 10x400m (starting at 90 seconds and getting up to 80 seconds per rep) with 60 seconds rest in between.  The girls were still having conversations with the coaches after the eighth rep.  The following weekend, the RFH team won the Meet of Champions over the two-time defending champion Hillsborough.  The previous year, RFH had placed 8th.  This past December, RFH was named the girls cross-country Team of the Year, with coaches McLoon and Mercer winning the Coaches of the Year by the Star Ledger.

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