Coaching Track & Field 101

So you’re interested in coaching Track & Field? Glad you found your way here.

Coaching, done right, can be incredibly rewarding. It can be intimidating, however, to know where to start.


Youth/Club: USATF Youth

Middle & High School: NFHS T&F/Cross Country

College: Men’s NCAA, Women’s NCAA, Men’s NAIA, Women’s NAIA


Adult & Master’s: USATF Master’s

There is an event for every type of athlete in Track & Field:

Track and Field is one of the most accessible sports in the United States; all you need is a pair of shoes!

Sprints & Relays (55m, 60m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m, 4x400m, DMR)

Hurdles (55mH, 60mH, 100mH, 110mH, 300mH, 400mH)

Mid-Distance & Distance (800m, 1500m, Mile, 3000m, 3200m, 5000m, 10000m, 3000m steeple, Cross Country)

Jumps (Long Jump, Triple Jump, Pole Vault, High Jump)

Throws (Shot Put, Discus, Hammer, Javelin, Weight Throw)

Multi-Events (Pentathlon, Heptathlon, Decathlon)

britten 3

Name: Coach Britten Olinger

Position: Assistant Coach — Sprints and Jumps at Montreat College (NAIA)

Get involved through volunteering, and don’t worry about the level [that you start on]. Every level and position has valuable knowledge, so don’t feel you are above it. Read More

Possible Positions:

Volunteer Coach

This is often the way that someone who aspires to collegiate coaching would begin his or her career. Most collegiate programs of all levels have volunteer coaches to help out with their programs. This is a way for the aspiring coach to develop their skills and prove that they are dedicated to a program.

Many youth, middle, and high school coaches volunteer their time as well. Being a volunteer can be incredibly rewarding. You can volunteer for a track & field team while holding another full-time job.

Graduate Assistant

Some college programs have Graduate Assistants (GA’s) that help with coaching. Normally, a GA position will fully or partially cover tuition to a graduate program and may also include a living stipend. This is a great way to earn a post-graduate degree while exploring coaching.

Assistant Coach

Assistant coaches can be paid by stipend, part-time, or full-time. Assistant coaches might work with only one event, or they might oversee entire teams. They might work with only one gender or one season, or they might span several.

Head coaches will often delegate decision-making duties to their assistant coaches, while occasionally offering guidance to ensure that the program is functioning cohesively.

An example of this structure might be that the Head Track & Field Coach oversees Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track, but leaves the Fall training design and travel schedule to the Assistant Coach of Cross Country/Distance. In this structure, there might be another Assistant Coach of Throws and an Assistant Coach of Pole Vault, leaving the Sprints, Jumps, and Relays to be coached by the Head Coach.

Head Coach

As mentioned above, Head Coaches might help with all aspects of track and field, or they might specialize in a specific event or event group. Head Coaches often bring or hire their own assistant coaches when starting a new position.

Director of Track and Field/Cross Country

A Director may or may not be directly involved with coaching athletes. He or she may also handle logistical aspects of the program. The Director is involved with oversight, leadership, and vision for the program.

Private Coach

A private coach provides training plans, advice, and/or one-on-one coaching to clients who pay for his or her services. There are many different business structures that can work with private coaching — Coming Soon!

Club Coach

A club coach is a track & field coach that works outside of the school system. — Learn More, Coming Soon!

Ready to Apply?