XC Running (Video) - Group Up Strategy Keeps XC Teams Together During Practice

XC Running (Video) - "Group Up" Strategy Keeps XC Teams Together During Practice

Dick Moss

Team cohesion is important in cross-country running, and the teams that race together in packs will score points in the bunches needed to be successful.

There are other advantages to running in a pack. A group of runners will encourage each other during the mentally tough sections of a race, resulting in faster times. It has also been found that athletes work harder if they feel part of a team (see "Team Cohesion Reduces Social Loafing & Improves Performance").

However, it can be difficult to attain this feeling of cohesion during practices if the members of your team have widely varying levels of ability. Because many practices take place on long loops and trails, runners can become spread out and may have only occasional contact with each other.

Here's one way to make such practices more team-oriented. It works well on loops or out-and-back courses and allows your athletes to run to their individual level of ability. It fosters a team atmosphere by allowing most of your runners to get together for their recovery intervals.

"Group Up" Concept

The concept is simple. Runners begin their intervals at the same time, running in the same direction, and attempting to stay in packs as much as possible. However, inevitably the packs will split up, with the faster runners moving ahead of their slower teammates.

Grouping up occurs during the recovery period between intervals. The runners who were in the lead turn around and jog back towards their slower teammates, while these slower athletes continue jogging forward. As they meet in the middle, they congratulate each other with high fives then continue jogging as a group until it's time for the next repetition.

There will be some practices in which the recovery is too short to allow the entire team to group together. That's okay. This strategy will allow almost every runner to make contact with at least one teammate before the next repetition begins.

Below is a video demonstration of "grouping up:"

Reference: Dick Moss, PE Update.com, October 2007 (Dick Moss is the head coach of Sudbury's North Athletic Club, and the Laurentian University women's track and cross-country running teams. He is also the editor of peUpdate.com).


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