Carlos Codie is a youth football coach, owner of Elite Speed and Sports Training, and founder/head coach of ESST Track and Field. He has nine years of experience as a USATF certified level 1 coach and has trained eight AAU All Americans and 35 top 20 national athletes.
Freelap USA: When working with kids looking to improve their speed, how do you assess their goals and plan their programming to balance the physical development side with their technical development?
Carlos Codie: I break it down based off the four seasons of track and field. I put all of my athletes—and I don’t just train track athletes, I train football players, baseball players, volleyball, soccer, you name it—on a track and field schedule, which means off-season, pre-season, mid-season, late-season.No matter the athlete I’m training—football, baseball, volleyball, soccer—I put them on a track and field schedule, which means off-season, pre-season, mid-season, late-season, says @3cspeed. Click To Tweet
The first part of our off-season just started this week, and it’s all strength training. So, we go three days a week of strength training, two days a week of just technique. The athletes do a mixture of both, so I know when I finish up the eight weeks, we’re going to be strong enough to go out on the track and I don’t need to worry about an athlete dying after the first two 225s or 125s.
Now their body is strong and they’re running with the correct technique—and that’s a reason most people wear out, because they are running improperly. But if the athletes complete the eight-week program, they should be able to come out to the track in mid-October and have the correct form and posture and have efficient practices instead of me letting them recover for an extra 15 minutes because they’re worn out.
Freelap USA: Track and football are both huge in Texas. How do you make adjustments in your programming if you are working with an athlete who will be participating in track year-round versus an athlete who also plays football or another attacking sport?
Carlos Codie: We’ll begin with that football player—once they get their schedules, more than likely they’re still going to be in the weight room. They’re still going to be on the practice field. So, with the football players, we’re just basically keeping their technique tight. I try to get them to still come to me two days a week, whether it’s a Sunday or if they have a Wednesday off-day; it depends on when their games are. And I have them come in, and we just go through technique: foot strikes, posture, posture corrections, those sorts of things.
With the year-round track athlete, we start the first week of September, and we go through that off-season phase expecting to start running in December for what would be an indoor season. So my high school track athletes are going through a college-type program.
Freelap USA: With the range of athletes you have, texts and emails are not very efficient or effective ways of communicating schedules and programming changes. What system do you use to make that scheduling and communication piece work more seamlessly?
Carlos Codie: I use the TeamUp app. So, instead of telling athletes at the beginning of the season okay, we have four days a week of practice, on my TeamUp app I have six days a week of training available to the athletes. The athletes can pick the days they want to train. Two days are going to be on speed, strength, or conditioning, two days are going to be just on technique. So, we have six days available: the minimum they have to come is four, and they’ll schedule that. This time, this time, this time, and this time.I use the TeamUp app for scheduling. I have six days a week of training available, and athletes can pick the days they want train…the minimum they have to come is four, says @3cspeed. Click To Tweet
I max out with 20 athletes per time slot, and it’s easy because the athletes can see on the app there’s 15 kids in this training, if I don’t want to be a group that large, I’ll go to the next one, there’s only eight signed up. So the athletes can actually judge how they learn—they can see, okay, the 6:50 session is always the fullest and that’s not the best fit. Instead, they’ll choose the 4:30 slot that’s less full because they know they learn better with that extra one-on-one opportunity with the coaches.
Freelap USA: A challenge for independent speed coaches can be finding a safe and open outdoor location to sprint. What are some ways you’ve found effective to work with schools and local parks to be able to plan sessions at those locations?
Carlos Codie: Personally, I started at the local junior highs that had non-fenced-in tracks and progressed from there, working my way to the high schools. I built a relationship with those schools so that they would allow me to go in with the proper insurance—that step was essential to have the correct base for training track athletes (or any type of athletes).
In our field, to be a certified coach you have to take USATF training, and at that point you purchase USATF facility and liability insurance after you’re a certified coach.
Freelap USA: Youth athletics are about a lot more than setting a PR or winning a game. How do you work on developing the values and skills that will help your athletes through adulthood, and how does that tie in with your nonprofit mission?
Carlos Codie: That’s a cool question. I had one of my very first athletes start with me in 2015—she was a volleyball player who was trying to come back from a torn ACL—and she was trying to work out on her own with a big-old knee brace on. I reached out to her and said hey, you need to be around some structure if you’re trying to rehab an ACL, you can’t be out running bleachers on your own.
So, I spoke with her and met her parents, and we finished up her final year of high school training. She ended up earning a scholarship to go to college for volleyball, and she graduated this past May. After she graduated, one of the first things she did was call me and say Coach, I’m looking to train.
I asked, do you want me to train you, are you looking to go pro?
And she said, no, I want to train athletes. I want to do for other kids exactly what you did for me.
Now she’s one of my trainers, and that’s how it can all come full circle. I lead by example. My athletes see the sacrifices I make—sacrificing time away from my own family and giving them the extra time when they call me at 9:30 or 10:00 at night because they don’t understand something that happened in practice that day.
They all call me while they’re in college, especially the first year or two. They’ll say this is hard, it’s getting tough, and you have to be the same coach they’ve always had, but now you’re speaking to near-adults at this point. I keep a lot of stuff in perspective for them—I keep it real, but I can let them know you’re probably only going to get this because you’re probably only giving this. And your new coach is probably saying what he’s saying because you’re doing this, this, this, and this. Because that’s what I would be saying too.
And when they hear that, they’re like you’re right, I’ve seen you do the exact same thing with other athletes. I say the same things and tell them to take the same lessons and apply them to what they’re going through now. And they usually make it.
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