“The two keys for me are using the SWIFT performance system and videotaping. Those two things tie hand-in-hand. Over the last five years, the combined elements of electronic timing and videotaping have really changed coaching in the sports of football and track and field. The ability to time an athlete’s movements with the SWIFT system creates a pivotal advantage for our teams along with the ability to allow coaches and athletes to review video during a contest and make critical adjustments.”
Al Leslie is in his 14th season as the Saline men’s head track and field coach, and 25th season coaching T&F overall. During his time on the hornet staff, he has been a part of 2 Team State Championships (‘06 and ’15), 9 National Champion Relays in the DMR, 4×8, 1600 Medley, and 800 Medley Relays. He was the USTFCCA Michigan Coach of the year in 2015 and the National High School Track and Field Coach of the year selected by USA Today in 2018. His Saline Track program has not lost a dual meet, league championship or regional championship in 10 years. His team averages between 150-200 athletes per season.
Along with Track and Field Coach Leslie has coached football for 25 seasons at Saline and 31 years overall. He has been selected twice as the Michigan Assistant Coach of the year (‘07’ & ’17) by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association. He was part of the staff at Saline that finished the season as the 2014 Division 1 State Runners up and number 19 USA today football team in the nation.
From an interview with Al Leslie…
It’s a game-changer when we show our pole vaulters their pole vault on video right after they’ve done it and fix those cues. Coaches who are not using video are at a disadvantage to coaches who are. We’re fortunate at Saline High School to have the resources which not all schools have, although anyone with an iPhone is capable of filming athletic movements during competition. The ability to film and critique athletes at any moment is huge just has the ability to use Swift timing systems to track movement and show kids the times they’ve just run. We run a lot of 30m, 40yd dash, and 10m flys. The 10m fly is really just tracking that max velocity piece. We allow the athlete a solid run in, record the 10m section, and then with their max velocity score, give them something tangible to compete against their next rep. We then go back and review the film we recorded for that rep and point out specific cues for adjustments. Swift Performance really allows our coaches to coach at a deeper level.
In a sport like track, you’re really competing against yourself and trying to better your PR. That being said, our high school athletes are also all about beating each other too; especially if they know they are of equal ability. I don’t have my freshman male sprinters compare to my senior male sprinters, because that’s not a fair comparison. But when one of my top junior or senior sprinters is running and drops a 0.98 10m fly, all the athletes are trying to beat that time. They’re all fired up about it! For team comradery and motivation, we give out bands for specific speed ranges that they meet. We take their fly time, convert it to miles per hour, and I give out bands from around 17mph up to 25mph. Now I haven’t had an athlete hit the 25mph mark, but I always take out the band and show them that it’s there. I’ve had a few 23’s and one 24 in the last few years. To be able to hand out those speed bands right after they’ve hit those marks is a point of pride to them. Engaging kids into wanting to compete and push that max velocity for that 10m time adds the speed reserve, boots their confidence, and increases their times across the board.