Q: How do I know which club is right for me?
A: Clubs are spread out through Ontario (See our list at: https://athleticsontario.ca/clubs/). Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
- Where are they? How hard is it to get to from home or work?
- How serious is this club and its members? Some clubs tend to be quite serious, some less competitive. Is it too competitive for you? Not serious enough?
- What sort of disciplines do they focus on? Do they do road running, jumps, sprints, cross country? Which are you interested in?
- When are their club workouts? Are they at a convenient time? Are they on a convenient day of the week?
Q: What events do clubs offer training in?
A: Athletics Ontario clubs differ based on what each coach specializes in. Please see the distinctions below.
- Distance running. This could be anything from 800m – marathon. This would be a club that specializes in long distance running, for indoor and outdoor track, plus cross country and road races.
- Sprinting. This would be a club that focuses solely on 100m, 200m, and 400m. Also typically sprint hurdles too!
- Horizontal jumps. This would focus on events like long jump and triple jump.
- Vertical jumps. This club’s focus would be pole vault and high jump.
- Throws. This club would focus in on shot put, discus, javelin, hammer throw, using an implement to throw at a distance.
TRAINING AND COMPETING SECTION
Q: What equipment or gear does my child require?
A: Athletics is a minimal sport, in comparison to other organized activities. The most important part of their gear are their running shoes! This process will set the athlete up for success. It is also important to purchase breathable athletic wear, to avoid any rashes on the skin from excess rubbing with cotton. For field events, it is important to speak to your coach about training with different implements, and to try them out before you purchase since they can be expensive.
Q: How many days a week are we supposed to train? How many of these are led by the club?
A: It is important to follow the guidance of the coach. If your child is new to the sport, then it is best to ease into the process to avoid injury. Too much of a new activity can lead to unwanted pain. Typically, there are two or three club-led practices that you will need to attend. The other two or three days at home will be a specific workout. These can be done solo, or plan to meet up with teammates in order to grow teamwork and team bonding.
Q: What do track and field meet days look like?
A: Most competitions are 2-4 hours in length. Some competitions only include a few event disciplines. Championships are multiple days including all events. Refer back to your club for meet information. In Ontario, there are approximately 80 sanctioned track meets across the province. 13-15 cross country meets, 200 road and trail races.
Q: How many meets does a club participate in each year?
A: The Athletics world is broken down into three seasons. 1) Indoor Track Season, which takes place from January through March/April. 2) Outdoor Track Season, which takes place May through August, and 3) Cross-Country Season, which takes place September through November. A fourth that takes place during all months of the year is road and trail racing which can differ in distance from a 5km to the marathon. Depending on the discipline of the athlete, for example long distance running, they would compete in all three seasons. Therefore, a distance athlete could be at between a dozen – 18 events per year.
Q: What can parents and athletes do at home that will help athletes progress?
A: Due to the limited time athletes (regardless of level) have with their coaches, there are multiple parts needed to be done behind the scenes that are out of a coach’s realm:
- A) Sleep. The suggested amount of time for the average high school athlete to sleep is 9-11 hours. Sleep helps the muscles heal,sets the athlete’s next day up for success and allows for proper recovery.
- B) Diet. Athletes need a healthy and balanced diet consisting of carbs, fats and protein, also including many fresh fruits and vegetables.
- C) Please let the coach, coach. Contradicting the coach removes that credibility the athlete needs to have in the program. There is a lot to be done at home with workouts when the athlete is not at practice, so please help encourage the coach’s routine. Just like homework and preparing for a test, doing well at a race will only come from diligent training.
Q: How can a parent get involved in the club?
A: Many clubs are heavily volunteer run and driven, and different clubs communicate differently. You can get involved to help with administrative tasks. Always remember that the majority of people involved in a club work a full time job, so please be patient with their responses.
Q: Are your coaches registered with Athletics Ontario, and abiding by the coaching requirements?
A: Every Athletics Ontario registered coach will need to complete the following:
- An annual police check with their local police department. This ensures the safety and wellbeing of all participants.
- Complete a Safe Sport training module by the Coaching Association of Canada. Every AO Club is required to have this training.
- Complete Respect in Sport training once every four years.
Q: Do coaches have sport-specific certifications, and what type?
A: Sport Specific training can include RJTW, Sport Coach, Club Coach, Performance Coach training and others, which can be found here. You can verify a coach’s certification by verifying their NCCP number and searching it here: https://thelocker.coach.ca/access/account/public
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS TO ASK:
Q: What is the athlete to coach ratio?
Q: What are your club’s governing policies? Do you have open transparency, a Board of Directors, open financial statements etc.
Q: Does the club adhere to Safe Sport Guidelines and AO’s Safe Sport Policy?
Q: Can parents stay to watch practices?
Q: What are the fees? What is included in my membership?
Q: Alternatively, what is NOT included in my membership, and what will I need to pay out of pocket for?
Q: Does the club provide financial support for its coaches?
Q: Do I need to join a club in order to compete at races?
Q: What does the time commitment look like to be a successful member?
Q: How do I know what event my child should do?
Q: What is the size of the training group that my child might be in?