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Track and Field Tips for the Fan

Like any sport, track and field is confusing to watch if you never participated in meets yourself. Below are a few suggestions for how to learn more about the sport.

Track and Field:
1. Read about the sport.
1a. Learn the basics online:
SportSpectator Fan's Guide to Track and Field: Our 10-minute guide to the sport.
Wikipedia: Good wiki community write-up on the competitive swimming. Click on the name of an event for more detailed information.
1b. Consider purchasing the following books from
Fundamentals of Track and Field
USA Track & Field Coaching Manual

2. Understand the role of records. At all levels, records are an exciting element of the sport.
Personal Record: A personal record (sometimes called a PR) is a great accomplishment for any level of track and field competition. The goal in every event is to improve over one's best performance (fastest time, longest jump, farthest throw, etc.) for that event. Winning the competition is obviously important, but the only thing an athlete can control is his own performance.
Other records: Historical times are used as a benchmark for track and field athletes. The highest record to hold is a world record (very, very rare). There will also be records for just about every level of track and field competition (Olympic records, college records, state high school records, jr. high school records, etc.).

3. Watch a meet with an educated fan. Find a current or former player or coach to sit with during a local meet (high school or college). Have the events explained and don't be shy to ask questions.

4. Appreciate good techinique. Watch the best athletes to appreciate good technique. Here are some suggestions for observing techinque:
USA Track and Field Calandar: The Olympics draw the best athletes from around the world, but only occur once every four years. Many other events are held througout the year and are listed here.
CSTV Track Clips: Find clips of previous races.

Learn about cross country:
1. Read the following online:
SportSpector Cross Country page: One paragraph of our track guide is devoted to cross country.
Wikipedia Cross Country Guide: Good community write-up on cross country.