Parents Track Meet Survival Tips
Track meets come in all shapes and sizes. In the early season, smaller track meets at high schools are a good segue to prepare for the more competitive -- and hot -- track meets where travel is required. The two most important things to consider for any track meet are safety and health.
Even a track club as small as the SASTC can pose a challenge or two. With over 30 athletes and only a couple of coaches, supervision is critical. This year the club has purchased a team tent. Tents are a critical part of an all-day track event. As space allows, athletes and their families are welcome to sit together. After all, there is always safety in numbers. Ultimately, it is each parent's responsibility to supervise and care for their own athlete's needs and personal belongings. On a hot sunny day, the athlete needs to be under a tent or in the shade at all times, until they are called to compete.
In Florida, the temperature can rise to over 100 degrees in the bleachers and on the track. Athletes need to be as hydrated as possible in order to perform well. Track meet days are a good time to bring playing cards, books, personal music devices, etc. to keep athletes occupied while they wait.
The athlete's health is a vital component to a successful performance. What he or she eats and drinks will play a crucial role. Avoid fried and sugar-filled foods and beverages on track days. Keep the meals small and light, consisting mostly of fruits and simple carbohydrates. Water is another critical factor for an athlete.
According to Coach J., when he sees an athlete running and they're not sweating, he knows the athlete has not been drinking enough water. The body is designed to sweat to regulate temperature, and drinking adequate water throughout the day is the best way to ensure proper hydration. Think of the body as a car, which requires a certain type of fuel for optimal performance.
Many parents bring their own canopy tents and set up on the grass, or even in the bleachers if they are allowed. Have your athlete help set up and take down the tent and carry food, towels, and an extra change of clothes. Florida weather is unpredictable and having an extra t-shirt or a couple of towels to dry off after a short rain shower are valuable items for families.
Remember, parents, having a great day at a track meet is more than the medal your athlete takes home. It is a great bonding time for families and will be even more fun if you work together, plan ahead by making a list of the food and items you will all need. Finally, don't forget to take care of yourself. A sports cushion or yoga mat are great to lay down on hard bleachers while you wait for your athlete to bring home the gold.