Measure What Matters: Record, Rank and Publish

Anytime an idea that catches fire and gains widespread popularity, there’s going to be a natural *drift* from the origin.

Recently, there’s been some Twitter skirmishes over the validity of sprint times and the integrity of those doing the publishing. (BTW, nobody likes a troll.)

I’ve often said, and it needs to be said again, timed sprints in practice are meant to produce competition *in-house*. Times can and should be shared on Twitter, but they are never meant to serve as a pissing contest between schools.

I’ve recently wondered if I have created a monster and everyone should go back to old-school posting procedures. Back when cell phones weren’t “smart”, I taped my rankings to the particle-board walls of Harrisburg’s pole barn serving as a weight room. The postings were effective, but posting on Twitter allows you to include a video, a picture, or a cool graphic. We can promote kids. Twitter allows us to share ideas with other coaches and learn the names of their top athletes. Personally, I like the modern world.

My 10m and 10y fly times are solid. Not many people troll me about my times. I’ve removed the variables. We run 10m and 10y flys indoors (no wind), same lane, same direction, with a solid timing system (Summit System 2008-2014, Freelap 2014-2020). If there’s a glitch, I void the time (example: someone with an average time of 1.06 runs 0.97, I make them “justify” their time by running a similar time, or I throw it out).

In 2018, when my team won both the state 4×1 and 4×2, our sprint times, with the exception of Marcellus, would not turn heads.

Marcellus Moore 24.1 mph (10.31 in 100m, 20.88 in 200m, both wind-legal)

Brian Registe 22.8 mph (#2 leg on both relays)

Joe Stiffend 22.6 mph (#3 leg on 4×2)

Brendan Hanneman 22.1 mph (lead-off on both relays)

Anthony Capezio 21.5 mph (#3 leg on 4×1)

Remember, these times were legit because I removed all variables. Could we have sprinted in a 35 mph wind and shocked the world? Yes, but that wouldn’t be very scientific, would it?

When we get outdoors, there’s no way to eliminate wind. Therefore, my track team doesn’t do 10m or 10y flys in the spring. We do other metrics (You can convert any measured fly to mph.). If the wind has a major effect on times, I don’t convert to mph or I make sure everyone knows we ran with a high wind. 

98% of our practice metrics are done solo. The competition comes from record, rank, and publish. The numbers are only comparable in-house. The only TRUE competition is under the lights in the fall and on the track in the spring. In the meantime, record, rank, & publish makes practice infinitely more fun than the miserable practices that I suffered through as an athlete.

TEN REASONS WHY WE RECORD, RANK, PUBLISH, BY COACH BRAD DIXON

(Brad Dixon’s words are in italics.)

1. If coaches don’t time athletes, how do they know if they are truly sprinting?

HOLLER: In my experience, if you don’t time your athletes, they may be running fast, but they are not truly sprinting. See below.

DIXON: I often call myself a recovering meathead football coach. 5 years ago, we “sprinted” all the time, but we never timed. We ran 10 x 20y “sprints” at the end of practice with very little rest. Our fast guys were in the front and our slow guys were in the back. I constantly yelled, “push yourself” as they trudged through the “sprints.” The reality was, we weren’t sprinting. We were running, or better yet, conditioning. All it did was make our athletes slower because their goal was simply to finish where they should, so the coaches wouldn’t get mad. No one was truly sprinting. 

Fast forward five years, and now we time every sprint. However, unlike Coach Holler, we didn’t have the ability to spike-up inside. Therefore, running in flats on the tile floor was the best we could do for most of the year. However, we timed, recorded, ranked, and published everyone of those times. We did it the best way we could with the facilities we have. Now, I know how fast each of my athletes are. For some of them, I have four years of data. Now, I truly know whether each athlete is “pushing themselves” or not. More importantly, I know when to back off.

2. Record, Rank, and Publish includes more than sprinting.

HOLLER: Measure meaningful things to make meaningful things more meaningful.

DIXON: I know we all think of 40 times and 10yd flys with record, rank, and publish, but it is so much more. Like Coach Holler says, anything you want to make meaningful to your kids, record, rank, and publish it!

Obvious things that we also record besides sprint times are vertical jumps, broad jumps, pro agility, 6 bounds (video), depth jumps, etc. 

Football wise, we record some different metrics. We like the 3 x 10 second sprint for max distance. Each athlete sprints as far as they can in ten seconds and we record the distance. 3-4 minutes rest and repeat. Average the distances and rank your best. 

We also like to record different position specific times. Examples could be jet or fly sweep runs to a specific target, LB blitzes, lineman pulls, running a vertical, etc. The possibilities are endless. You’re only hampered by your own imagination. Remember, if you want kids to give their best at something, record, rank, and publish it!

3. Record, Rank, and Publish allows coaches to collect data and adjust programming.

HOLLER: Coaches who don’t record, rank, and publish, are coaching in the dark. Is my team getting faster or slower? Do we need more recovery? More plyometrics? Less volume?

DIXON: Can you imagine taking kids into the weight room without a workout card or an online software program? Most coaches wouldn’t dream of it! Coaches want athletes’ last maxes, percentages, current progression, etc. They want to make sure their weight program is working. Each day and week builds off of each other. 

However, many coaches do not take that same approach to their speed and power development. Again, I was that coach. We would hand time 40s at the beginning and the end of the training block and hope what we were doing was working. We did the same with broad jump, vertical jump, pro agility, etc. Crazy to think that we tracked every single weight we ever lifted, but rarely tracked anything else. 

Now, with record, rank, and publish we track our athletes in these metrics constantly, With a Freelap timing system and a Just Jump Mat, we are able to collect data daily to help guide our programming. Everyone wants to debate back squat, front squat, split squat, deadlift, etc. By recording, ranking, and publishing you can actually see which weight room exercises are helping you get faster, and which are actually making you slower. For example, if you are doing heavy back squats and most of your athletes are getting slower, you need to look at the programming. If you stop back squatting and switch to split squats and your athletes get faster, you really need to look at the programming!  

Same thing goes for sport practice. When you are recording, ranking, and publishing you gain amazing knowledge as to what practice is doing to your athletes. By measuring 10m fly times and/or vertical jump, you can determine how ready your athletes are to practice or train. This can help you plan your workouts or adjust practice in a way that will help your athletes improve, not crush them further.

4. Record, Rank, and Publish gives meaning to training and creates competition among athletes.

HOLLER: If your athletes are unmotivated to compete with their teammates, then they probably should join the band. Competition feeds the cats.

DIXON: Before record, rank, and publish, kids never got excited to sprint. Now they talk smack and push each other because they want to be at the top of the list. They are excited to compete each training session! Isn’t that what we want as coaches?! 

When one of our athletes hits a PR and beats one of his buddies on the team, you can be damn sure that his buddy is coming right back after him on his next rep. If he beats him, the cycle continues each training session. If he doesn’t beat him, then he usually becomes much more focused until he gets the next opportunity. That athlete might dial in his nutrition a little better, get more sleep, be more focused in his drill work, etc., all because of the competition created by record, rank, and publish! Does your training create competition, or is it just conditioning?

5. Record, Rank, and Publish allows coaches to track improvement and celebrate all athletes, not just the fast ones.

HOLLER: When you do solo sprints or solo jumps, no one is ever *losing*. Losing is a detriment to athletic development. Winning, or avoiding defeat, is inspirational to an athlete. (I know, adversity makes us stronger, but some kids have too much adversity!) The slowest kid on the team can celebrate his best time. The slowest kids will improve the most.

Here’s something to consider… the weakest athletes on your team don’t have much success in football games or track meets. That’s saying it nicely. They might get to “participate” but they don’t score many touchdowns and don’t win many races. Record, rank, and publish gives the worst athletes on your team a chance to be successful, to win the day.

DIXON: I was a “big kid” in high school. I played on the offensive and defensive line and usually finished towards the back of any races, sprints, or conditioning. Outside of the weight room, my successes in training were few and far between. In fact, most of the time it was embarrassing to be one of the last guys finishing a gasser or a 100-yard bear crawl and having all of your teammates around you screaming and cheering for you. I know, most of you probably think that is what builds team culture and toughness. I don’t. I was that kid that just wanted to finish, so everyone would quit acknowledging the fact that I was terrible in those conditioning tests. It seemed forced or disingenuous. I knew everyone just wanted to go home. 

Personally, I think this is why I love record, rank, and publish so much. All athletes can be successful and see their improvement over time. I have kids that come into my program that run over 7.00 in the 40. Trust me, we celebrate like heck when they record their first 6.99 40. It’s not fake and the kids love it. They feel different. They can feel their improvement and their hard work paying off. They come back for more, and before you know, they are breaking 6.00 for the first time, and we’re celebrating like hell!

6. Record, Rank, and Publish gives coaches historical data to encourage current athletes. 

HOLLER: I love this. Chris Korfist tells stories about the legendary Joe Newton keeping records of workouts for motivational purposes. Without data, you can’t show a kid how much he’s improved. Without data, you can’t compare kids to the younger version of legendary athletes.

I have 12 years of data from this workout.

DIXON: This is one of my favorite graphs that I’ve used in presentations. This is what record, rank and publish is all about:

Class of 2021 athlete from August 2017 of his Freshman year until Covid-19. From 5.99 to 4.82!

This kid was one of the slowest freshman “skill” players in his class, if not THE slowest. He was not a gifted athlete, but as I discussed above, he was able to continue to see success through record, rank, and publish and he was hooked. He trained hard, and as he matured, he kept running faster and faster until he finally broke 5.00 in the summer before his junior year. He is one of the reasons I will be devastated if we do not have a football season this year. He’s earned it.

More importantly, however, is the ability to share his story with all of my younger athletes. Freshman join our program with hopes of being the next great star. Then reality sets in. They show up to the first workouts and realize they are slower and weaker than almost everyone else. However, through record, rank, and publish, we can show these athletes how they compare to their varsity “heros” when they were the same age. It gives them hope and the motivation that they can be that future star.

7. Record, Rank, and Publish helps coaches recruit great athletes.

HOLLER: At Plainfield North, we get “walk-ons” every year. Students at PNHS know that we time sprints after school in the winter. Our sprint workouts become a cat-magnet.

DIXON: One of the best decisions I’ve made in my career was to go back to school to become certified in Physical Education. As a history teacher, I had already gone back to school once to get my Master’s Degree in Administration ten years ago. It was hard to go back again, but I felt like we needed to add an “Athletic PE” class to our curriculum. Our kids worked hard in the offseason, but at a small school, it was hard for 3-sport athletes to consistently train in-season. It’s been a game changer ever since.

Last year was our 4th year of Athletic PE, and we had 83 athletes in four periods. We started with two classes and 45 athletes. This year we will have over 90 athletes. When you record, rank, and publish, athletes know where they stand in the school. When they see some of their buddies doing well in a particular sport, but they are sprinting faster and jumping higher/farther in Athletic PE, it makes them think: “How good might I be in that sport?” As the teacher, I do everything I can to encourage different athletes to come out for football and track (sports I coach), but the best recruitment tool is record, rank, and publish. Our track program has grown from 19 boys to 35 in the last four years. The week before Covid-19 hit, I was able to finally get one of my freshman football players (also plays basketball) to come out for track. Why? He was sprinting and jumping similar to some of the current track kids! He wanted to come try it! Then… you know…Covid…

HOLLER: Camp Point Central’s official enrollment was listed as 243 total students. When Brad talks about 90 athletes, that’s an astonishing 37% of the student body.

8. Consistent variables are key in Record, Rank, and Publish.

HOLLER: The more you can “control the variables” the better the data. If you can’t control them, make note of it. (Example: *26 mph tailwind*, or *gauntlet day*, or *running in a hallway without spikes*)

DIXON: As I stated above, we have run all of our sprints inside, in the hallway, with flats on. I don’t like it, but it was the best we had with our facilities. I have the same tape marks on the floor and we run them the same way every time. Consistency improves our data. I didn’t want to run some inside on the tile, and some outside with spikes on. I wanted the reps to be the same.

In February, our booster club was gracious enough to approve funding for us to buy a 200 ft rubber runway down that same inside hallway. We were finally going to be able to spike up! Well…then….Covid… It was delivered in late March and has never left the crate it was delivered on. 

200′ rubber runway.

When we were finally able to start workouts again this summer, I chose to run sprints outside on the track in spikes. Why? I wanted them to be fast, and I can now use spikes inside all year long. They were much faster in spikes. I know I will need to make notations for tailwind, etc. moving forward, but I’m pumped to now be able to train my athletes in spikes every time!

HOLLER: Even though wind will inflate your results, always run with the wind. Wind is the greatest overspeed tool ever invented. Wind allows the CNS of sprinters to experience new velocities without getting unnaturally “pulled” at the waist.

9. Record, Rank, and Publish is not a universal timing system.

HOLLER: Verified timing is a joke. The timing at the NFL Combine is verified, but only for those attending NFL Combine. When you read this, you will never again trust a 40 time: Verified Times?

DIXON: This is what pushed me to want to write this article. Coaches all over Twitter complaining about other coaches’ times. In my opinion, F.A.T. track times are the only verified times, and even then you probably need to factor in weather conditions! 

Record, rank, and publish is a system to track improvement across YOUR TEAM. It is not for the comparison to others. It’s not universal. Everyone is going to have a different set up, different variables. Some people have an indoor track, some don’t. Some people use Freelap, others use Dashr, and some use video or hand time. It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you do your best to control the variables and collect good data.

We are all competitive people, so it is a natural thing to compare data with other programs (especially the great ones). However, that should not be the purpose. Our purpose should be to give our kids the best possible training environment, programming, and motivation to become the fastest and most powerful team we can. We’re not trying to be the fastest team on Twitter.

10. Record, Rank, and Publish is all about building your own house.

HOLLER: “Build your own house” is a story from Chop Wood, Carry Water. It fits perfectly with “Feed the Cats”. The story goes like this: a master builder was asked to build one final house before he retired. The builder was uninspired wishing he didn’t have the burden of one more house. He cut corners and finished the house quickly, only to learn his final house would be gifted to him from his appreciative boss.

We want kids to BUILD THEIR OWN HOUSE. Coaches are facilitators, mentors, and catalysts in the process. Too many coaches complain that kids are not *self-driven* but they continue to *drive them*. Force-fed kids don’t build great houses.

Record, rank, and publish allows for athletes to measure, monitor, and celebrate their progress. Before you know it, they will care about nutrition, hydration, and sleep. They may start reading about training. Before you know it, they will be building their own house.

DIXON: Coach Holler has been teaching me this from the first DM I ever sent him on Twitter. You don’t have to do it like Coach Holler or myself. Make it unique for your program and your athletes. If you have questions, we’re here to help in any way that we can. Remember, at the heart of record, rank, and publish is to help your athletes become the best that they can be. I think all coaches can agree on that goal for their program. The specifics? That is up to you. Build your own house!

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HOLLER’S ADDENDUM:

Recently a well-respected sprint guru tweeted about “the plethora of athletes apparently running faster than the best football players on the planet.” I, too, cringe when I see questionable times posted. However…

Believe it or not, “the best football players on the planet” were likely faster in high school than they are now. Wow, it took over 3000 words to get to something controversial… controversial because it’s TRUE. 

The “body armor” gained in the weight room slows down “the best football players on the planet”. Many of the best football players at the college and professional level never train at max speed, fearing injury. If you are not experiencing maximum CNS outputs on a regular basis, you will not improve speed. As a matter of fact, you probably won’t *maintain* the speed you once possessed.

I’ve talked to dozens of college football players who wish they were as fast as they were in high school. NFL players are almost always slower than they were in college. How often do you hear about NFL players getting re-tested in the 40? If we had a mandatory combine for every NFL team, the results would shock you.

Kapri Bibbs ran at Plainfield North. Kapri was ranked #37 fastest at PNHS as a freshman, #7 as a senior. As a freshman, Kapri ran 11.9 in the 100m, as a sophomore he ran 10.8. As a junior and a senior, Kapri never matched his sophomore track numbers. As a senior, Kapri was one of the best football players in Illinois and ran 21.6 mph. A few years later, Kapri ran a disappointing 4.67 at the NFL Combine and went undrafted. Based on the chart recently published by Joe Stokowski, to run 4.67 you have to be able to run 21.5 mph. Did the 1741 yards and 31 touchdowns Kapri scored at Colorado State indicate that he was faster than high school athletes? Nope. The age-16 version of Kapri Bibbs would win a race against Kapri Bibbs as a high school superstar, college All-American, or NFL running back. 

Kapri went on to play with the Broncos, 49ers, Raiders, and Packers.

99% of NFL veterans would quit before they would subject themselves to timed sprints in practice. There’s no record, rank, and publish in the NFL.

Yeah, but Tyreek Hill is faster than shit! No high school boys are faster than Tyreek Hill. No way!” Right, Tyreek is faster than shit. Yep. But could Tyreek, right now, put on a pair of spikes and run 20.12 in the 200m? That’s the time Tyreek Hill ran when he was 18. (If you are confused here, the answer is “NO, Tyreek is not as fast as he was at age-18.”)

One more point about mph stats and football players. Last November, Tyreek Hill hit 22.6 mph in a game vs the Vikings. Oddly, he did not have the ball (excitedly chased Damien Williams on a 91-yard touchdown run). People hear 22.6 mph and think to themself, “Damn, I keep hearing about high school kids on Twitter running 22 mph or 23 mph, that’s bullshit.” Do you know how hard it is to run 22.6 mph with 12-13 pounds of pads, on a soft surface, in a state of fatigue? To run 22.6 mph late in the third quarter of an NFL football game, you would have to be capable of running over 24 mph (no pads, hard surface, bouncy fresh). I would guess that Tyreek has flirted with 25-26 mph when he was younger (Bolt ran 27.6 mph). Nope, you can’t compare game speeds to Freelap speeds.

This is not limited to football. Seems like far too many elite high school sprinters fail to improve their times in college track programs (where speed should be the absolute priority). For every college sprinter who improves speed their speed, there’s probably two or three who got slower in college.

My point is this. When you see super-fast times coming out of a high school program, don’t immediately question the veracity of the times. Don’t be so quick to question the integrity of the coach. High school kids can be really fast. And sometimes it’s windy. It’s not a pissing contest.

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If interested in more about record, rank, and publish:

Teaching to the Test (webinar with Tony Holler and Brad Dixon) … email tony.holler@yahoo.com or bdixon@cusd3.com to purchase.

Record, Rank, and Publish: 8 Weeks of Alactic Training

The Origin, Evolution, and Future of Record, Rank, and Publish


Showing 2 comments
  • George

    Wonderful. It formerly took many of us decades to discover that success is highly individual. Now, thanks to Coach Holler and TFC, kids are getting a head start on that very important life lesson.

    This is just one more example of why, as Coach Holler has written, teachers should be allowed to operate like coaches.

    When kids have success experiences at their own level every day, everything changes – they WANT to learn because success feels good. And it doesn’t just work in sports. I’m fortunate to work for a small private school where “record, rank, and publish” is the order of the day in academics, with the result that our teachers are much less occupied with discipline issues.

    • Tony Holler

      This approach really can work in the classroom, too! Thanks George!