Short Tracks - USA Athletics Scholarships

Short Tracks

Here we will list some of the factors that we believe contribute to the high levels of performance associated with NCAA D1 track. Contrary to what some perhaps believe short tracks are not listed as one of those reasons.

Why are performances so good?

If you look at the collegiate ranking lists, you will see that performances are not only of a very high standard at the top, but there is also great strength in depth. We are often asked why there is so much depth in the NCAA, and aside from hard training and expert, there are a number of other reasons why this happens:

Numbers

Huge money is spent on scholarships for athletes. It comes down to coaches wanting to see returns on their investments. With so many athletes on scholarship competing, it is safe to assume that the standard of competition at the top end is going to be good.

Competition structure

The way the competitions and qualifying procedure is set up in the NCAA will encourage high levels of performance. To make the NCAA Indoor Championships you have to be ranked in the top 16 on the descending order list. It is an entirely objective qualifying procedure and therefore the only way to make it is to perform well. When athletes line up against each other they know that they have to run fast, jump high, or throw far, otherwise they will not qualify for the major championships and their season will be over early.  Likewise, to make the Regional meet outdoors will typically require a performance equivalent to an AAA qualifying standard, and even that will only place you in the top 48 for your region or top 100 in D1.

Conditions

America is such a geographically diverse country that you can find most weather conditions somewhere on any given day of the year. This is reflected in where athletes often achieve their best performances. For distance running, you would struggle to find conditions better anywhere in the World than you would expect to see in California in April or May. Perfect temperatures, little or no wind, and the added atmosphere generated inside a floodlit stadium are all major factors that contribute to some of the legendary West Coast distance carnivals each year.

A distance runner’s nightmare can be a sprinters dream, and the meets in the South can provide just that. Warmer temperatures in these Southern States can be ideal for optimal anaerobic performance in sprints, jumps, and throws. Places like Florida, Texas, or Georgia are often where you see some of the world class times and distances being set in the fast twitch events.

Beware

Unfortunately not all meets take place in laboratory like conditions. We have seen some abysmal tracks during our time, and part of your research should look into how many of these you will have to run on.

University of Oklahoma’s 200m flat track

Whilst 400m outdoor tracks are usually pretty standard (mondo or synthetic), there is a lot more room for manoeuvre indoors. The best indoor arenas will be either the perfectly banked 200m tracks or oversized and 300m upwards. Anything less than this can be a nightmare to run on. 150m – 200m indoor flat tracks are far from ideal and repeated performance on these is often how injuries are caused. A flat 178m indoor track is probably not where you would head to set a 5000m PB or qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

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