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You better start swimming or...

Bob Dylan's 1964 song was an anthem for the Baby Boomer generation - a warning to mothers and fathers that they better learn to adapt to the new generation or there would be a price to pay. That "your old road is rapidly aging."

In 1970 there were far too many coaches who resisted teaching athletes the Fosbury Flop, despite his victory at the 1968 Olympics, reasoning the technique was too radical, high jump pits unable to provide a safe landing surface.

Guess what? They were wrong.

In 1975 Brian Oldfield used a spin technique in the Shot to put the 16# ball well over 70', at the time a style considered absurd. For twenty-five years coaches resisted the unique idea, labeling it far too radical - the technique merely an anecdotal story from years past.

Guess what? They were wrong.

In 1995 a few coaches clamored to have the steeplechase included as an NCAA event, reasoning it needed to be added because women should have the same opportunities as men. Yet far too many argued women couldn't navigate the water barrier, were incapable of incorporating the hurdling technique into 3000 meters.

Guess what? They were wrong.

I was at the Wisconsin Track Coaches clinic last weekend in Madison promoting my books, posing a question to the Garmin* representative in one of the neighboring booths when things were quiet.

In your estimate, what percentage of coaches use your product?

"Less than ten percent." I was incredulous, mentioning how invaluable I thought all the data provided by the watch could be, certain that he was joking. Guess what? He wasn't. As a college coach I would have killed to have this information so readily at hand. Been able to download all this invaluable data simply by pushing a button.

You mean coaches don't want to know, with raw data, how each athlete is responding to training? What morning heart rates are? The pace on today's recovery run? How many hours they slept last night? Whether they perform tempo runs at the correct pace? It doesn't make sense.

When I asked about reasons why more didn't - it was they cost too much or we don't have the budget or it's too much information. WHAT? Too much information??? Parents don't think twice about paying $160 for running shoes. Coaches have money for three different meet uniforms but not enough for this? HUH?

One word - priorities.

All I can say is "you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone." There are a million reasons why a watch such as this is impractical but I can think of even more that will let the coach know we aren't pushing athletes too hard, or not challenging them enough. It will make you a better coach. More successful. It's almost guaranteed.

Bob Dylan said it best. "The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast, the slow one now will later be fast."

* Garmin did not ask me to write this nor do I have any financial involvement in their product.

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