Track & Field Events: Types & Training

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  • 0:04 Track and Field
  • 0:50 Common Events
  • 3:32 Best Practices
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

This lesson focuses on common track and field events and the required training for the various events. We'll explore sprints, relays, distance events, long jump, shot put, and the discus.

Track and Field

Track and field is a sport that incorporates different types of athletic events. Track events are running events that range from short distance sprints to middle distance runs of a mile or so to long distance runs, like a 26-mile plus marathon. Field events include strength events, such as the shot put and discus, and throwing events, such as the javelin and hammer. The heptathlon and the decathlon are a combination of seven and ten events, respectively, and incorporate both track and field contests together in a quest for the highest score.

The rules for track and field events are different for each event. The specific training for each event varies as well. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at some of the most common track and field events and examine training procedures that can help athletes improve their skills.

Common Events

Relay races are usually the closing events at a track and field meet, partly because they're thrilling races that are fun to watch. Relays consist of teams of four runners per squad that take turns around a track, where each runner must pass a baton to the next runner within a certain area of the track or be disqualified. The first runner leads off the race, so he/she does not receive a baton pass. The last runner does not pass the baton either, since he/she is the last runner, and instead focuses on crossing the finish line. Each team usually passes the baton three times during a race. Athletes hold the baton from the bottom to facilitate a smooth pass.

Most distance races are either 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon. The workout procedures involving distance training are different for each event. Many experts recommend a blanket beginner's plan in which the athlete builds up to running for thirty minutes continuously at a relaxed pace of about 15 minutes per mile. The goal in this type of training is NOT to run for time but merely to get the body used to running 30 minutes without stopping. Then the athlete can move on to stage two, which is customizing a plan for one of the given running distances.

The long jump, a contest to see who can jump the farthest in one leap, is one of the most recognizable events in all of track and field and was popularized by the great Jesse Owens, the star of the 1936 Olympics. As with all events, most track and field coaches recommend a warm-up consisting of a light jog for about five minutes. Then the training method is to begin with the standing long jump before moving on to the three-step long jump and progressing to the full running long jump. The latter consists of the approach, the takeoff, and the landing. The final step in the training method is a five-minute light jog to cool-down.

The shot put, a contest to see which athlete can throw a heavy ball the farthest, is another fan favorite in the track and field world, and while at first glance it appears the hulking athlete is just using brute strength, there is actually a lot of technique. As in the long jump, the athlete starts first from a standing position, then progresses to a three-step movement, and then finally uses the full technique. There are two preferred methods for the shotput: the spin technique and the glide technique.

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