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  • #16
    Enforce the stipulation when one makes a national team that mandatory relay camps and competitions must be attended. Make no exception for anyone who is a member of the relay pool.

    While who composes our relay teams may change from year-to-year, the structure of insuring how the relay teams work should not.

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    • #17
      Whether they use upsweep or not, my main suggestion following the Olympics makes the most sense - hold a seperate "Trials" for the 4x100, perhaps as part of a meet like Penn or Texas Relays. Penn already holds "Olympic Development" races - just replace those during the Olympic year with the Trials if there is a concern about crowding Penn's schedule. Practice time will increase by months.

      There's no reason why we have to select our 4x100 by using the top individuals from the Trials open 100. And don't think for a second most of the top people won't be on the same squads anyway.
      There are no strings on me

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      • #18
        Originally posted by guru
        There's no reason why we have to select our 4x100 by using the top individuals from the Trials open 100..
        I used to think it was just a matter of taking our top sprinters, having them practice and - auto gold - but it finally has dawned on me that it's more about team chemistry than team speed. Some people shouldn't be on relay teams (or at least in certain positions on relay teams), and the practice (practice, practice) is more important than anything else. AND, the team needs to run in THREE races together before they ever go to the Games. If they race together and do well, and THEN drop the baton in the OG, I can live with that. But we have NOT done our best to ensure OG success, and that is the sin here.

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        • #19
          upsweep vs downsweep

          i taught grade school kids the up sweep method and we won our share of relays. even though we were the slowest group. we won because we made few if any mistakes.

          one problem with the down sweep method is that is not reliable. it requires that the receiving runner turn the head and body towards the incoming runner. this result in the receiving hand moving around in space. this result in missed hand offs. furthermore, the down sweep method is anti gravity. if the initial hand off is missed, the runner with the stick has to work against gravity and time to make a second try.

          there is also the matter of how the thumb works. it works better grasping down than grasping up.

          if the hand off is missed in the up sweep method. the receiving runner can still maintain straight ahead momentum while allowing the incoming runner to try the pass again, to a relatively stationary target and not a moving one.
          another advantage of the up sweep method is it eliminate the need to change stick hand, even with a mixed handed team.

          the two most crucial things in relay stick passing is the take off distance ( given that the pass must be made in a defined zone) and concentration.
          the correct distance to take off before an incoming runner arrives must be worked out in practice sessions.

          concentration should be the only wild card. it's hard to concentrate in the relay zone with so many things going on. the urge to spectate the race in almost overwhelming. most of our athletes have been running relays since grade school. so they should have the necessary experience to handle all the adjustments that must be made on the fly during a relay.

          finally the coaches must decide which athlete should run which leg. politics can an often do influence this decision. egos do become involved.

          one advantage other nations have over us is that they have a system of national teams where elite runners experience running with each other over a sustained length of time.

          we continue to use the all star method of choosing teams. sometimes the team that runs the final is not the same team that practiced together. the fastest runners do not necessarily make the fastest relay teams!

          finally, perhaps it's time to put relay running on the same level as individual running. instead of asking an athlete to run rounds in two events and then run relays, perhaps we should qualify relay teams the same way we qualify individual athletes.

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          • #20
            Look fellas I am with you on the flow of ideas but what is insulting and pissing me off is the constant fallacy that permeates our sport. It is not all the same. We are not talking age group or even high school We are talking world class performers that are running at speeds that change the dynamics in ways you all are taking for granted.
            Do you think it is pure coincidence that the push pass or over hand pass dominates the performance charts? It is not. It is the equivalent of telling some one to try the step over technique in the high jump because you can see the bar and it used to be the dominant style AND you still teach some of the kids you coach that technique.
            Also, JAM did not practice extensively. Do not get all giddy because we lost. They were faster this year, period. They ran 37.10! It is about putting the fastest out there and getting the stick around.
            As for the relay trials, I do not think you will eliminate the aspect of drops, and you run a tremendous risk of putting a weaker team on the track when the major meet comes around.
            DEMANDING practice attendance is a bad idea. They do it in the UK and it will be changed after this years experience. You cannot do it because the dynamics are too fluid. We are not talking about folks sitting at home, these are people in separate parts of the world in some cases, paying their own way to places. Coaches and the such for training for their own events, etc. Not to mention, the program in place gets as much relay practice as can be expected out of the relays. This year there was practice at UTSA, Texas relays, Penn relays, Stockholm, London, Monaco, Dalian, and in Beijing. That is a slew of days and not disconnected days either. Tyson missed days to rehab and so did Dix. Practice is not the issue nor is it the passing. This came down to execution, and that is always a risk you cannot eliminate.

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            • #21
              The national-team concept works well in nations with only a handful of good sprinters (ergo, nearly all nations but the U.S.) (and Jamaica of course). Too many new faces continually emerging on the U.S. scene.

              If the U.S. had had a "national team" prepped for Beijing it certainly wouldn't have included Walter Dix, because his collegiate obligations would have kept him away from too much practice.

              Then let's assume even no injury to Gay and no drop in the heats. They still lose to Jamaica, but perhaps not by much. And USATF and teh coaching staff get their heads handed to them by the media and general public for being so stupid as to leave the 100 and 200 bronze medalist off the team. Not to mention OT 100 4th-placer Travis Padgett, another collegian.

              The boobirds would be out in just as strong a force as they are now.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Smoke
                Look fellas I am with you on the flow of ideas but what is insulting and pissing me off is the constant fallacy that permeates our sport. It is not all the same. We are not talking age group or even high school We are talking world class performers that are running at speeds that change the dynamics in ways you all are taking for granted.
                Do you think it is pure coincidence that the push pass or over hand pass dominates the performance charts? It is not.
                All of this is true except for the teensy fact that the upsweep is infinitely better for UNpolished teams, which the USA fields time and time again.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by gh
                  The boobirds would be out in just as strong a force as they are now.
                  The boobirds might be out, but there would be credible arguments against them - unlike the status quo.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    IMHO, the uproar would be far louder.

                    Just remember, 16 nations ran the men's 4x1 in Beijing; 8 of the 16 failed to finish, and every one of them other than the U.S. had some sort of national-team program. Does USATF's H-P Program get the blame for the other 7 fuggups too?

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by gh
                      IMHO, the uproar would be far louder.

                      Just remember, 16 nations ran the men's 4x1 in Beijing; 8 of the 16 failed to finish, and every one of them other than the U.S. had some sort of national-team program. Does USATF's H-P Program get the blame for the other 7 fuggups too?

                      As you know, it's not JUST Beijing - we've seen this over and over again, men and women alike, from US 4x1 teams in the last 20 years.
                      There are no strings on me

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                      • #26
                        The issue isn't even so much the dropped passes - as was pointed out, many nations do that - the real issue is 'failure to properly prepare'. If we did go out and race more races with our national team and have a good track record (pun?), then dropped passes would be seen as 'bad luck'. But we open ourselves for criticism when we don't look like we care. The answer, IMO, to to race the team much more. That would require that some stars submit themselves to less Me Time and more We Time. If they wanna walk-the-walk in relay success, that MUST happen.

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                        • #27
                          RE RELAYS FAILURE

                          we are a little anal about losing. we have dominated the relays over the long haul. i think we overreact to the times when we do mess up and lose. thanks to our Vince Lombardi heritage.

                          money is also our great motivator. no one is getting rich running relays. it would be nice to see some real money available for relays like the 4x8 and the 4x1500/mile.

                          i would bet that if some real money was at stake in the relays we would see more serious preparation. although there's no guarantee that the dropped sticks would disappear or even decrease in frequency. the incentive to not screw up would be greater though.

                          also given the apparently voluntary racial segregation of running in America, a so-call small country like Jamaica is actually competitive against us because they're only competing against a small percentage of the total population.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by gh
                            IMHO, the uproar would be far louder.

                            Just remember, 16 nations ran the men's 4x1 in Beijing; 8 of the 16 failed to finish, and every one of them other than the U.S. had some sort of national-team program. Does USATF's H-P Program get the blame for the other 7 fuggups too?
                            Agreed. Brooks wasn't fired because of dropped batons, nor should he be. He was fired because he's been a black mark in the sport all the way back to his days at St Albins prep in DC. He should have never been in any position of power in our sports federation in the first place. He is a race-baiting buffoon.

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                            • #29
                              Re: RE RELAYS FAILURE

                              Originally posted by cornstarchwilson
                              we are a little anal about losing. we have dominated the relays over the long haul. i think we overreact to the times when we do mess up and lose. thanks to our Vince Lombardi heritage.
                              ??!! What's the point of fielding a (USA) team if we're not trying to 'do your best', which, in virtually every other year except 2008, meant winning. There is no 'overreacting' to our OG debacle - it really was an embarrassment. Vince Lombardi didn't invent the concept of winning at any cost - it's deep within our DNA, steeping in eons of testosterone.

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                              • #30
                                To be honest, I don't have an opinion about the man.

                                First, what was up with the bib numbers?

                                Second, dropped batons happen. I have always wondered why the last exchange. The runner only has to get the baton--doesn't have to worry about starting or handing off the baton. Don't put the superstar there, put the least reliable and flaky of the four there. Your best starter in the blocks. Put the diesel at number 2. Your best curve runner on 3.

                                Third, in the future we need better managers and less egos. The athletes can almost coach themselves at that level. They need to be handled and managed well. They need correct plane tickets, good housing, great food, no problems with the host country, a correct up-to-date time schedule, good medical care, no equipment hassles, etc. They don't need a philosophy course or a lesson in the fundamentals.

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