Some Frequently Asked Questions about the NTF Summer Program:

Q: What activities are kids involved in when attending the NTF summer track program?

A: We do quite a lot of running at each practice. Some days we also practice jumps and throwing. Athletes learn step by step how to warm up, how to stretch. They learn and practice plyometric drills for strength, balance, and agility. We also play a lot of running games to keep things fun for all ages.

 Q:  How many days (per week) do athletes need to be at practice?

A: Athletes 8 years old and younger practice two nights a week. Older athletes have scheduled practices four nights a week, Monday through Thursday, but attendance on all days is not mandatory. You can choose the days that work best for your schedule and goals. Attendance of at least two days per week is recommended if you hope for athletic improvement.

 Q: Is this program suitable for kids with no running or track experience?

A: Yes, this is the exactly the program that provides such experience. Although it is open to a very wide range of athletes, we allow everyone to develop at their own rate. For younger kids who are totally new to track, we form an Elementary Group which learns basics step by step.

 Q: Do participants need to be at a certain level of fitness when joining the program?

A: There are no strict requirements. But getting in shape beforehand is a good idea. That would give your athlete a sense of confidence if he or she had done some running or other sports before the first practice. For example, try to build up gradually to running continuously 2 laps around the track. That can be a good starting point.

 Q: Are kids allowed to try it out before signing up?

A: We allow one week try-out free of charge for any new participants. Signed waiver and filled registration form are still required to join the practice.  

Q: What do athletes need to have for practice?

A: Good running shoes  and a water bottle. For shoes, the recommended source is Rapid Transit Sports on 115 South Allen St. They have a nice selection of youth models and can help to pick the right type / size. The shop will give you a discount if you mention Nittany Track and Field.  

 Q: How many kids are normally enrolled in the  summer session, and are there any age groups?

A:  Total enrollment for summer may exceed 100 athletes. For each practice we may expect 50-60 kids in attendance. Athletes are split in two-year age groups based on USATF standards (age as of Dec 31): 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 and older. For some activities groups may be combined. 

 Q:  How many coaches are usually present at practice?

A: Every night, each age group will have a lead coach who will coordinate practice activities for that group. Also several support coaches and volunteers are present to help with practice. In addition special event coaches (hurdles, jumps, throws) are available on certain days to instruct different groups on rotating schedule.

 Q: What events are practiced in the program?

A: Track events include sprints (50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, relays), middle and long distance (800m, 1500m, 3000m), hurdles; field events include long, triple, and standing long jump, throwing (javelin, discus, shot put); high jump currently is not available but may be offered in the future when a qualified coach and equipment is available.

 Q: How are athletes divided into different event groups?

A: On "event" days, after the general warmup, we announce what event coaches are available for that day. Then, the kids can choose one or another group to practice with. Size of some groups may be limited. They do not have to stick to the same group and can try various events throughout the season, but we discourage wandering between groups during one practice. 

 Q: What track meets are included in the summer program?

A: We include very diverse meets in our schedule to allow athletes with different levels of experience to participate and to benefit from them. All-comers meets organized by Centre Parks and Recreation are great for beginners. We also target AAU and USATF Junior Olympic meets for more experienced kids. There are several meets in Junior Olympic series, and one has to participate in each to qualify for the next one. In the end of the season, Club participates in the UAGTCA Youth Invitational in Philadelphia and National competitions, which provide the highest level of competition. Check our meet calendar to see what is on menu for this season. 

 Q: Is participation in meets mandatory?

A: Not mandatory, although some competition is always encouraged as it completes the purpose of track and field training. I advise every athlete to choose at least 2 meets to get experience and to see  how much they improve over the season.

 Q: How do I know if my child is ready to participate in track meets?

A: Talk to the coaches who work with your athlete. Kids usually get confidence as training goes on and are excited to run at a meet. Starting at a local, relatively low-key competition is preferable. They can try it with no pressure and see how they feel and how they like it. Club usually sets up an intersquad meet for the team in early June to give everyone an opportunity to try.

 Q: Does Club provides transportation to the away track meets?

A: At this moment, transportation to and accommodation at the out-of-town track meets is responsibility of parents. Detailed information and directions are provided, and a Coach is usually present at the meet to help with logistics. Limited funds may be available to support travel of athletes to the National track and cross country meets. 

 Q: Do participants get and have to wear Club shirts or uniforms?

A: Club T-shirts are included in the registration fee and are provided to all participants. Racing uniforms (singlets / shorts) can be purchased via apparel order at the beginning of the season. A limited number of uniforms is available to borrow from the Club if your athlete is set to  compete at the track meets. Wearing Club T-shirts or uniforms at practices is optional. For the meets, club athletes are encouraged to wear club uniforms or T-shirts, and it is mandatory for relay and cross country teams who must compete in the matching  apparel.

 Q:  Are spikes allowed / required for the workouts and meets?

A: Spikes are allowed at practices for specific workouts, as advised by a coach. For most of practices, spikes are not necessary. Spikes may be worn for any track meets, unless specified othewise. Before racing in spikes, athletes are encouraged to try them at workouts.

 Q:  What is the check-in / check-out procedure for each practice?

A: Parents need to drop off their athletes at the track (not at the parking lot), making sure that practice is on and at least one of the coaches is there to start the practice. Pick-up at the end of practice is also at the track. Athletes will not be allowed to leave track on their own. If you need to leave early, inform the coach in charge. Athletes 12 years of age and older may be allowed to walk to ride their bikes home independently with parents' signed permission.

 Q: Do you cancel practice due to weather? How do we know if practice is cancelled?

A: Practice may be cancelled because of bad weather conditions, such as thunderstorm, pouring rain, or freezing rain. Cancellations will be communicated to all participants over Remind message list and via e-mail before 5 pm on that day. If an on-going practice is cancelled because of the weather, the group will stay under the roof of the concession facility at the track or inside the High School South Building, and the cancelation message will be sent to parents for early pick-up. Instructions for Remind system sign-up will be provided to all participants at the beginning of the season.

Q: Are parents allowed to stay for practice?

A: Absolutely! Parents may stay around to watch or even participate in the practice (please ask coach), especially if you have  young kids who are new to the track and need your encouragement. Check with your children though  - some kids like it and some don't.

 Q: Do you need volunteers? How can parents help?

A: We welcome new volunteers to help at practice. Talk to the head coach or Club president about the options. Extra help from parents will be needed at the local all-comers meets and for the USATF Central Pennsylvania meet, which NTF hosts in early June. Also you can volunteer for leading such tasks as clothing orders, organizing summer picnic, providing snacks (e.g. popsicles or drinks on hot days), etc.

 With more questions, e-mail to  ntfxc.club@gmail.com



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