The Carl Lewis method: more real races, less practice - Times LIVE
Fri Apr 28 10:27:04 SAST 2017

The Carl Lewis method: more real races, less practice

Reuters | 2017-04-21 09:05:06.0
Former US world and Olympic athletics champion Carl Lewis. File photo

When relay teams drop batons and make other costly mistakes, they are usually criticised for lack of practice.

US teams have been embarrassed by a number of high-profile gaffes in recent Olympics and world championships.

But American track and field great, Carl Lewis - who won five global gold medals in the 4x100 metres relay - says that practice is not the key.

"Everyone thinks it is about practice, but it's not," said Lewis.

"It's about understanding the system and then doing it in front of a live audience.

"It's more important to get actual races than to practice."

That is one reason why the University of Houston coach, along with new US relay coach Orin Richburg, is a strong advocate of expanding top US sprinters' participation in domestic relays during the American spring.

"You need to do it in live meetings," said Lewis, whose Houston men's 4x100m relay team ranks among the nation's top five.

As the athletes run around the track you will not hear Lewis's charges calling "stick" as they prepare to pass the baton.

"That is too much to listen for. If you are calling stick, then your mind is worrying about something behind you.

"The race is in front of you," said Lewis. "We do a blind pass."

"It's designed for the outgoing person to run to a spot and for the incoming person to try to beat him to that spot."

Lewis is no fan either of resting sprinters on US relay teams, changing the order of runners and using alternates in the early rounds of global competitions.

Noting that today's sprinters run fewer rounds than he did - he regularly ran four 100ms, four 200ms, had two days of longjumping and all three relay rounds - Lewis was puzzled about how they could be tired.

"I don't like it," said Lewis.

"Because what they do is [have] every agent screaming to get their kid in to run.

"What it is about is trying to get someone a medal. We should be focused on winning."


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