The file, a formation where each client is lined up one behind the other, is always moving. With this in mind, there is potential for the file to spread out and therefore make control more difficult for the coach/instructor. Alternatively, if the file is forced to remain together, the fitter clients will not obtain a maximal training benefit. To control the group and yet still allow for maximal training for clients of all fitness levels, a wind up drill can be very effective.
Wind Up Drills
The wind up drill utilizes two set points, either natural (trees) or man made (cones) to gather the group. This drill becomes most effective at points where the coach's need for control is a necessity (e.g., before a road crossing or when needing to stop and pay immediate attention to an individual). An example is shown in Figure 1 below. Once everyone in the group is in the wind up area, the group can resume on the original course. Wind up drills can also be used to gather the group prior to road crossings or track direction changes.
Figure 1. A wind up drill to cross a major road. Note the additional wind up area on the opposite side of the road.
Follow the Leader
Figure 2. Follow the leader with wind up drill of the main path.
- Concept: The "Follow the Leader" concept is a familiar one where the participants are lined up in file and follow the person ahead of them.
- Set Up: While no set up is required, a good coach will still conduct a thorough reconnaissance of the area through which their charges will be moving. Potential "wind up" areas should also be identified. It should be decided before hand whether you as the coach will lead or if another will be designated. If so, the nominated leader should be briefed on the general direction and speed prior to starting the session. It is also advisable to allow other members of the file a chance to lead.
- General Information: Teach all the participants to call out potential safety concerns to the person behind as they run/walk. For example, calling out "hole" if a pothole is on the track or low branch. Ensure that the group is spread out enough to change course if the person ahead falls. Discuss basic etiquette before the drill. For example, move to the side if you are going to slow down or stop to tie a shoe lace.
Figure 3a. Team Walking/Running
- Concept: A Fartlek-based session with alternating speeds where the person at the rear runs to the front of a file.
- Set Up: Teams can be small for small group competitions against one another, or a whole team can be strung out in a single file. On either the command or at a predetermined signal, the last person in the group runs at a set pace (flat out, 85 percent, etc) to the front of the file. The file can either be walking or running at a moderate pace.
- General Information: Ensure that when cutting into the front of the line, the incoming walker/runner leaves enough space for the runners behind to avoid trip ups. Plan which side the "speed" runner will move to accelerate to the front. Avoid drills where the "speed" runner must cut into oncoming traffic (e.g., on a bicycle path). Timing can be on command "Go," or the next runner can start automatically when the "speed" runner is half or joins the front.
Instead of running only a half lap, each runner can complete one and a half laps before falling into the front of the file. Again, ensure the "speed" runner does not cut in front of the lead runner too closely. The "speed" runner can tag the next runner after the first lap.
Figure 3b. Team Walking/Running for 1 ½ Laps
Multiple Files can be used for larger groups. The "speed" runners can move into the center and "race" against one another.
Figure 3c. Team Walking/Running with two files
One file completes a half lap while the other file completes one and half laps. To maintain control and prevent one file from becoming longer than another, release timing should be set by the coach.
Figure 3d. Team Walking/Running with two files and two different distances
Drop Off Drills
Figure 4a. Drop Off Drills
- Concept: An aerobic based session that can incorporate some resistance training.
- Set Up: Teams can be small for small group competitions and competing against each other or a whole group can be strung out in a file. The lead participant drops off the front of the file by moving to the side and performs a nominated exercise before running to catch up to the rear of the file.
- General Information: Ensure that when "dropping off" the front of the line, the participants moves out to the side before slowing down. Timing can be on command "Go" or when the "drop off" returns to the file.
Again with larger groups, two files can be used. Likewise, two files can be used each completing a different exercise.
Figure 4b. Drop Off Drills with multiple files
Figure 5a. Converging overlapping files
Figure 5b. Continuous overlapping files
- Concept: An aerobic based session that can incorporate some resistance training or when there is not enough equipment for the entire group.
- Set Up: Files are created with the file lining up behind a start cone. Each file is then divided into two colors (for the graphical example, Green and Purple). Cones representing the two sub divided groups in the files are placed out at alternating distances of choice. (The example in Figure 5a has a 20m distance for a walking lunge exercise and a 200m distance for a run). Both groups for each file starts at the same time. In Figures 5a and 5b, the Purple file take off with the Green file behind. The Purple file run to their first colored cone and then starts the walking lunge. The Green file does walking lunges to their first colored cone and then runs as a file to their next cone, passing the Purple file. Figure 5a has the groups joining and converging back into a single file again, whereas Figure 5b has the overlap continuing.
- General Information: Note that the colored cones are actually placed in a long single file and where two or more are required are placed next to each other.
A variation that can be used when equipment is limited is to have equal set distances. With this in mind, however, the file with the piece of equipment must be faster than the file without. In the example below, at least one bicycle per pair is required. The Purple file cycle to the first cone, leave the bicycles and start running to the next cone. The Green file start running to the first cone where they will find the bicycles and then ride to the next cone, passing the Purple file on the way.
Figure 5c. Continuous overlapping files with limited bicycles
Figure 6. Progressive files
- Concept: An aerobic based session that incorporates rest periods.
- Set Up: Cones are placed out at intermittent distances with a file lined up behind the first cone. The first runner runs to the second cone, loops round and runs back to the start, picking up the second runner, both run to the second cone. The first runner drops off at the second cone (after one and a half laps), while the second runner loops back to the start to pick up the third runner. Once reaching the second cone, the first runner either has an active or passive recovery. Once the final runner completes their loop, the first runner heads off to the third cone.
Rather than waiting for the entire file to complete each leg, the first runner can take off for the second file after either the second or third runners have completed their runs.
Similar to the "early release" variation above, the first runner can take off after either the second or third runners have completed their runs. This time, however, they loop back to the starting cones.
The examples provided above can be merged into a single session. For example, sessions can start with a "drop off" drill progressing to "team running" and then alternate between both. Alternatively, "overlapping drills" can merge into a "follow the leader" drill.