Frequently Asked Questions
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Track and Field
Will I be good at track and field?
Anyone with a positive attitude towards the sport is welcome. The emphasis is placed on personal achievement and growth (doing your personal best). We find that everyone who is willing to apply themselves will improve. That being said, many of our members are outstanding athletes. Do not be discouraged if you can’t perform like them at first – with patience and a reasonable amount of effort you will improve.
Why is track & field such a great sport?
Track and field is one of the few sports where an individual athlete can enjoy the camaraderie of training on a team in the spirit of competition, yet compete as an individual – working independently with their coach toward personal achievement goals, never dependent on another athlete’s performance (exempt in relay races).
My child plays another sport. How will this affect his or her track and field participation?
Not a problem. We understand that athletes may want to participate in more than one sport. During the outdoor season the schedule for training days is more flexible. This allows you to decide if you can coordinate your involvement in track with your other interests. All we ask is that you let the coach know of your athlete’s participation in other sports. For the younger athletes, it’s just a courtesy thing so they can plan around your absence; for the older athletes, the coaches may have to adjust the schedule to accommodate and prevent injury from training volume overload.
What type of shoes (types of spikes) does my child need and where do I buy them?
As a Tyke or Pee Wee starting in the sport, there is no need to buy any specific type of shoe. A good support/light weight runner will do them just fine while they learn the ropes and decide if it is a sport that they enjoy and want to participate further in. Even as a Bantam athlete, there are many participants that continue to use their regular runners, but it is at this stage/age that some athletes begin to explore the benefits of having a spike specific shoe. When you are ready to try spikes, talk to your coach, they will tell what to look for.
What is the best advice that I can give my child who is just starting?
Emphasize development (personal bests), not winning or losing. The top runners in the world are in their late twenties and early thirties – think of all the years you have to develop. Think of the positive aspects of running; being outdoors, having a healthy heart and lungs; running can be a lifelong skill. Enjoy and have fun!
St. Albert Mustangs Track and Field Club
Is there much travel required?
At different times of the season, your child will be provided with an opportunity to travel out-of-town to a meet supported by the club (usually more of the case in outdoor than it is in indoor). As with everything though, you and your child are not required to attend the out-of town meets (or any meet for that matter). While travelling to another meet will provide your child with more track experience, sometimes better competition, and excitement galore, we understand that finances and other commitments may not allow for your attendance. The choice of how much travel you do, if any, is yours.
How long is the season?
This varies based on the season and when the meets get scheduled every year.
Indoor season is usually November to March. Outdoor can vary. It usually begins early in April with some athletes finishing mid July, while others, especially those on provincial selection teams, train and compete right through mid-August.
Cross-country season is usually September to late October and is included in the outdoor registration fees.
Where and when do we train? How often?
One great thing about track & field is the flexibility possible in terms of training. Because it is an individual sport, others do not rely on you being at training at a specific time as much as they do in team sports. Training days and locations vary depending on the season, the age group, and coach availability.
|Season||Age Group||Training Days||Location|
|Indoor||Junior Development||TBD, but historically Tuesday & Thursday evening + every second Sunday||Edmonton Garrison Fitness Centre, Dynamyx Gymnastics Club (Sundays)|
|Peak Performance||Depends on Discipline/Coach||Kinsmen Field House, Dynamyx Gymnastics Club, Edmonton Garrison Fitness Centre|
|Outdoor||Junior Development||Monday – Thursday (early evening)||Fowler Park|
|Peak Performance||Monday – Thursday (early evening) + additional Saturdays||Fowler Park, Kinsmen|
|Cross Country||Junior Development||Tuesday – Thursday (early evening) & Saturday (early morning)||Lorne Akins, SAM Elementary School, 7 Hills|
|Peak Performance||Monday – Wednesday (early evening) & Saturday (early morning)||7 Hills, Fowler Track, and a variety of other Edmonton locations.|
How often you train is an individual decision made in consultation with your coach(es). Young athletes are encouraged to continue with other sports – the training in track & field usually benefits other sports a great deal. As a result, these athletes usually train with us a fewer number of times throughout the week. As you get older, however, you will want to specialize more and might be doing specific track & field training up to 6 times a week. Again, all of this is dependent on the season and the flexibility of the schedule. As a general guide, most elementary students train twice a week, junior high athletes train 3+ times a week (some do less, some do more).
Can I cheer for my child during practice?
Yes, cheering is welcome, but be sure that is all you are doing. At practice (and during meets), athletes are expected to be with their respected coaches. We welcome cheering on each and every athlete, but our coaches respectively ask that you leave the coaching to them. When parents get involved and coach from the sidelines, athletes become distracted and injuries can occur. If for any reason you feel that this is unfair, you must remember that the training sessions are designed with your athlete’s best interest in mind and they need to stay focused and listen to their coaches. Therefore, please do not be offended if you are asked to not coach from the sideline.
Cost and Commitments
What commitments do I have to the club as a parent?
- If your athlete will be absent from practice, we ask that you send the coach a text or an email so they can plan practice accordingly.
- There is a requirement of all members/parents to volunteer each season – indoor and outdoor. Without this the sport could not exist. This involves helping out at track meets (no prior experience is required) or helping with a fundraiser.
What is the cost?
Fees for the 2017-2018 indoor season is $350 for Junior Development athletes (Tyke, Pee Wee & Bantam); $450 for Peak Performance athletes (Midget, Youth, Junior, & Senior athletes).
What do the fees cover?
- Facility admission/rental (Kinsmen Field House & Servus Place for indoor & Fowler Track for outdoor)
- Use of equipment
- Entry fees to all club supported competitions
Are the fees paid to the St. Albert Mustangs eligible for the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit?
Yes, the annual fees qualify for the Fitness Tax Credit for children under 16 years of age at any time during the year effective January 1st. A tax receipt will be issued.
Are there any other additional fees or expenses?
- All club members are required to get a provincial Athletics Alberta membership. The fee varies according to the age group and can be found on their website at www.athleticsalberta.com or by contacting the office at (780) 427-8792. This fee goes directly to Athletics Alberta, not the club. For athletes registering for the first time with Athletics Alberta in the fall, the membership extends through the entire following year.
- Athletes are required to wear a club singlet when competing, available for $45.00.
- Any out-of-town expenses, travel, accommodation, and food/incidentals are also the athlete’s responsibility.
What is Athletics Alberta?
Athletics Alberta is the provincial organizing body for track and field, cross country, and road running. As a branch member of Athletics Canada, Athletics Alberta is made up of individual members, member clubs, and affiliated organizations. The purpose of the Association is to promote, encourage, and develop the widest participation and the highest proficiency in the sport of Athletics. It is mandatory that all athletes be a member of Athletics Alberta prior to competing in any of the track meets.
What is an Athletics Alberta number?
Once an athlete registers with Athletics Alberta, they are provided with a designated number. This number is used for identification and tracking of the athlete throughout the season at different meets. The athlete carries the same number through their entire athletic career.
What is a track meet?
A track meet is a one, two, or three-day event that takes place rain or shine at a stadium or outdoor track. Meets generally take place at the club or school that is hosting the meet. The club or school will send out details about the meet to other clubs in advance. The clubs will then send back information on the athletes that will be competing at the meet.
What is a track event?
Any event that takes place on the track surface is a track event. This includes sprints, hurdles, middle distance, distance, relays, race walks, and steeplechase.
What is a field event?
A field event is any event that takes place off the track on areas surrounding the track, such as throws and jumps. Events such as javelin, discus, shot put, long jump, high jump, triple jump, or pole vault are considered field events and are scheduled separately from the track events.
Which events will my child participate in?
- The events that your child is eligible to compete in are determined by their age.
- With the specifications in mind, the events that your child gets registered in are at the discretion of the coach – determined by ability, fitness level, and the athlete’s commitment to the sport.
- Younger athletes will be encouraged to take part in many different events. This helps develop all-round athletes; specialization comes later. Even if you think you know which event you want to specialize in at a very early age, we will strongly encourage you to try other events.
- If you have any concerns with your events, please feel free to discuss them with your coach. Remember, the goal is to gain experience, do your personal best, and contribute to the club’s success from an overall points standing (as appropriate).
- Relay team coaches make up the relay teams comprised of 4 runners. The day of the track meet the coaches will decide who the actual 4 runners will be for the relay team. If there are 8 runners, two relay teams will be made. This will be announced at the lunch break – athletes are to meet at the St. Albert Team Tent or designated location (indoor) to determine who will be on the final relay team(s). Athletes are advised to not take this selection too seriously. If you don’t make a team, this doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough. A coach may be giving other athletes a chance to gain some experience or may have seen a possible injury in one of your events. Poor team spirit, bad attitudes, and a lack of warm up are also considered no matter the abilities of the athletes.
Do I have to attend all meets?
No. Choose the ones you want to go to (or that work with your schedule).
How do we register our child for a meet?
- The club representative will send an email to all athletes with the details of the upcoming track meet and deadlines for registration
- Parents respond confirming their child’s participation, by marking their availability on Team Snap
- Club rep registers all participating athletes
- Club rep sends an email the week of the track meet confirming the events that the athletes are in and the respective schedules (final schedules are not available until the day before the meet)
When should an athlete arrive at the track?
An athlete should arrive at least one hour before their event is scheduled to start. Sometimes event times can change the morning of the meet, so arrive early and be prepared.
When I get to a meet, what do I do?
Locate the person assigned by the club to pick up the meet package (a notice through Team Snap will be sent the night before or the morning of, identifying the meeting location). They will provide you with your “bib” (a meet participant number). Attach it to your Mustangs singlet. Check the area where the event information is set up to determine the event locations and starting times for each one – confirm that there are no last minute changes. Find out where the events are being marshaled (you are required to check-in at least 20 minutes before the start of your event). Begin your warm-up routine with a fellow teammate or on your own. Listen to the P.A. system, and when your age group is called make your way to the marshaling area. Events are allowed to run 30 minutes early, but many times run late. You will have to keep tabs on how events are being run throughout the day.
What do you mean by “being marshaled”?
This is where all the athletes that are competing in a specific event gather together before the event. The official(s) running the particular event in question will take the time to introduce themselves, get the athletes organized, and explain how the event will be run.
What is an official?
Those dedicated souls that volunteer their time and effort, and try to make sure that events are run on time and are judged fairly. Reminder: There is no reason to be rude or abusive to any official. They are giving up their weekends so that your children can enjoy the track and field experience.
Do events run on time?
Officials and organizers go to great lengths to have events run on time, but this is not always possible. The number of athletes competing in an event can cause an event to run behind the scheduled time. For example, it is not unusual to have 30+ athletes waiting to compete in the long jump. When you consider that each athlete gets three jumps, each jump needs to be measured, and the pit raked each time, you can see how time consuming this becomes.
My child is in Junior Development – what can I expect at a track meet?
- Each day of competition will feature 3-4 events for Tyke, Pee Wee, and Bantam Athletes (1 sprint, 1 jump, 1 throw, 1 distance).
- Athletes are expected to try each event. Points are achieved with competing in each event to an overall total after all events are done.
- Relays will be optional.
- Generally the day will be 3-4 hours long (for warm-up, competition, and cool downs)
- Each category will have a designated chaperone to manage athletes, results, and coordinate with meet officials
- Athletes will move from event to event with their chaperone until the final event is complete
Do I place the bib on the front or back of the singlet?
- Tykes, Pee Wees, and Bantams place their number on the front for all events.
- For midget+ athletes, the competition number is placed on the back for sprints. For track events greater than 400m, the competition number is placed on the front. For field events, the competition number is placed on the front. A simple phrase to remember this is “Sprints on the back, all the rest of the events on the front”!
- Note: Once a bib has been provided to an athlete for a meet, they are to use that same number all weekend long, so make sure your child brings their bib to every day of the track meet. If you do not bring your bib to the second day of competition, make sure to see your coach right away so that a duplicate number can be given. It is frowned upon by the club if an athlete forgets their bib.
What happens if I have two events scheduled at the same time? What do I do?
This scenario happens often, and sometimes you need to make a choice on what event you would prefer to compete in and scratch the other one. Officials will not generally hold up one event for another, unless they are ahead of schedule. This is a track and field reality and you will just have to accept that things are not always going to run on schedule and that you may not be able to compete in all the events you wanted to. However, in many situations, your child may be able to compete in both – get one attempt in at the field event, then run the track event, and return to the field event. If this is what your child would prefer to try and do, your child will need to let the field event official know that he/she is leaving the competition area to go run. In the case of two field events conflicting, the same applies; the officials must know when your child is going to the other event. If you are not sure what to do, consult with your coach, but generally the track event always takes priority over a field event. Just remember, it is a long season and you will have plenty of time to participate in all of the events.
Can we scratch an event on track meet day?
Yes, but athletes are NOT to do this on their own. They MUST advise their coach if they need to scratch an event as soon as they are aware of the circumstance. Failure to scratch can affect team results. Note: Scratching an event can cause an athlete to be eliminated from the entire rest of the track meet. Serious consideration should be taken prior to scratching an event. Athletes are encouraged to try all events they are entered in, if they are concerned discuss with a coach ASAP.
What happens if an athlete does not compete at a meet or misses events they have signed up for?
Because the Mustangs Track and Field Club pays for all of the events an athlete is registered for a meet in, it is important that you participate in every meet/event that you indicate a commitment to. If you are able to provide enough notice to the coach with regards to a change of plans, then there may be no repercussions. If, however, adequate notice is not provided, then the “meet cancellation deposit” that was provided at the beginning of the year for $50 will be cashed by the club.
What should I take to a meet?
- St. Albert Singlet
- Running shoes
- A few pairs of socks (many athletes like to change socks between events for comfort, and in particular following long jump)
- Track suit (for warm ups)
- Band aids (for blisters)
- Hair elastics (if appropriate)
- Eye drops and lip balm (for indoor – as the Butterdome is very dry)
- Entertainment: Book, cards, ipod/music with earbuds
- Sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen (outdoor)
- Blankets and appropriate clothing to keep yourself warm/dry (outdoor)
- Chairs, tarps, pop up canopies, umbrellas, etc (outdoor)
- A healthy picnic lunch/snacks and water
- Patience and a positive attitude!
How many attempts does an athlete get in field events?
Junior development athletes ages 8-13 are allowed three attempts. For older athletes the top eight competitors, after the three initial attempts, get three more.
What is the racing protocol?
The commands to start a running race are “on your mark” which means the athlete will approach the line or get into the starting block (Midget+ only). Get as close to the line without stepping over. “Set” is the command just before the gun goes off (“set” is not said for longer distance runs) and then the gun (which is quite loud) will go off. Run, run, run to past the finish line. However, if the athlete immediately hears a second gun go off at the start of the race, they need to stop running. This indicates a false start where someone has “jumped the gun”. All athletes go back to the start line and hope they are not the one who jumped the gun because it could mean disqualification. Yes, even the young ones can be disqualified.
All running events at the Pee Wee and Bantam age group are timed finals, which means that your child will only run once for that event and will be given a final place based on their time. For older age groups it will be heats, and then depending on the number of runners, either semi-finals and/or then finals.
Where do I find the results of the event?
Hard copies of the results are posted at the meet on paper somewhere (depends on the location of the meet) shortly after the race. In addition to the hard copy posted at the meet, the Ellis Timing Track website (www.ellistiming.ca) will provide an electronic copy of the results as well. You will be able to find both a live results feed and a post meet document (depending on how anxious you are to see the results). Just simply find the name of the meet in the list of options and then look for results. Pee Wee and Bantam athletes receive ribbons for top 10 results in each event so your child could be going home with a handful of ribbons! The overall top three athletes (Pee Wee girls, Pee Wee boys, Bantam girls, Bantam boys) will get medals! Midget and above will be awarded medals for the top three finishers only. Sorry, no ribbons.
Track Meet Etiquette?
- As athletes, it is expected that proper track etiquette and sportsmanship is used. All of the officials are volunteers and should be treated with the utmost respect. All other volunteers (parents or other) are giving up their time as well to ensure an athlete’s success at an event. With this in mind, all volunteers should be treated with the utmost respect as well.
- After completing a race or field event, please make sure to shake all of your opponents, volunteers, and officials hands.
- Because there are a lot of events going on simultaneously, please ensure you look before crossing the track. Never walk across a field, always around the outside of the field to get to your field event. If you have any questions about the event you are in you can ask a volunteer, official, or your coach for guidance. Everyone is happy to assist!
Where do I find track meet schedules & information?
For information specific to each track meet, please refer to the Ellis Timing Track website (www.ellistiming.ca) and select the Calendar & Results side menu. Find the appropriate meet and select the Web page in the “Information” column. This will provide access to the technical package for the meet which outlines the rules and guidelines for the meet. The schedule of events will also be available via this website, but is not finalized until the day prior to the meet. Athletes should familiarize themselves with the timelines for marshaling in for events, etc. It is IMPORTANT that athletes check the finalized copy of the schedule for their event time as it can change.