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Debating with your friends who’s the best Track and Field coach?

Harry Marra, Bobby Kersee, or Clyde Hart?

Here is our list of the best Track and Field coaches of all time.

Do you agree with our picks?

Best Track and Field Coaches:

  1. Harry Marra
  2. Bobby Kersee
  3. Clyde Hart
  4. Tom Tellez
  5. Arthur Lydiard
  6. Bill Bowerman
  7. Glen Mills
  8. John Smith
  9. Bud Winter
  10. Dan Pfaff
Track and Field

#1 Harry Marra

  • πŸ† Achievements: Coach of multiple world champions and Olympians, including Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1970s–2017
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: San Francisco State, Various collegiate and professional athletes
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Harry Marra is widely recognized for his work with decathletes and heptathletes, most notably coaching Ashton Eaton to multiple world records and Olympic gold medals in the decathlon. Marra’s skill in developing well-rounded athletes in the multi-event disciplines is highly regarded.

During his career, Marra has won several coaching awards and served in prominent coaching positions for various teams and organizations, reflecting his expertise in track and field coaching.

His philosophy and training methods have been influential in the careers of his athletes, often focusing on the technical aspects of events and fostering strong athlete-coach relationships.

#2 Bobby Kersee

  • πŸ† Achievements: Coach of multiple Olympic and World Champions, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Allyson Felix
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1980s–Present
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: UCLA, Individual athletes
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Bobby Kersee is renowned for his significant influence on American track and field, having coached his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, to multiple Olympic gold medals and world records in the heptathlon and long jump.

His coaching career extends beyond his family, as he has trained many successful sprinters and hurdlers including Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, showcasing his versatility as a coach.

Kersee’s technical knowledge and the psychological support he provides his athletes are hallmarks of his coaching style, contributing to his reputation as one of the best track and field coaches in history.

#3 Clyde Hart

  • πŸ† Achievements: Coach of Olympic champions Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1950s–Present
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: Baylor University
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Clyde Hart is a coaching legend in the 400m event, having developed a training program that produced Olympic champions like Michael Johnson, who set stunning world records under his tutelage.

Spanning over six decades, Hart’s career at Baylor University showcases his longevity and ability to adapt to the evolving landscape of track and field.

His coaching philosophy emphasizes the importance of speed endurance, which has proven particularly effective in the 400 meters and has influenced many other coaches in the sport.

#4 Tom Tellez

  • πŸ† Achievements: Coach of Carl Lewis and multiple other Olympic and World Championship medalists
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1950s–2000s
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: University of Houston, Santa Monica Track Club
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Tom Tellez is known for his expertise in sprints and jumps, coaching the legendary Carl Lewis to nine Olympic gold medals and helping him perfect his craft in the long jump and sprint events.

During his time at the University of Houston and the Santa Monica Track Club, Tellez impacted numerous athletes’ careers, demonstrating an unparalleled understanding of biomechanics and technique in track and field.

Tellez’s scientific approach to coaching and relentless pursuit of technical excellence have left an indelible mark on the sport and inspired generations of athletes and coaches.

#5 Arthur Lydiard

  • πŸ† Achievements: Pioneer of modern distance running training methods
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1950s–2000s
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: New Zealand national team, Finland national team, individual athletes
  • 🌐 Nationality: New Zealander

Arthur Lydiard is celebrated for revolutionizing distance running with his innovative training methods, which emphasized aerobic base building and periodization.

His approach yielded considerable success on the global stage, most notably when his athletes secured two gold medals and one bronze at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Lydiard’s coaching principles have been widely adopted and are considered foundational to modern endurance training, cementing his legacy as a visionary in track and field coaching.

#6 Bill Bowerman

  • πŸ† Achievements: Co-founder of Nike, coach of multiple Olympians and American record holders
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1940s–1970s
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: University of Oregon
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Bill Bowerman, perhaps most famous for co-founding Nike, was also an exceptional track and field coach with a reputation for innovation, particularly in running shoe design and development.

During his tenure at the University of Oregon, Bowerman transformed the track and field program, producing numerous Olympians and fostering a culture of excellence.

His coaching philosophy focused not only on physical training but also on mental determination and the overall well-being of his athletes, making him a revered figure in the sport.

#7 Glen Mills

  • πŸ† Achievements: Coach of Usain Bolt, the world record holder in 100m and 200m sprints
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1970s–Present
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: Jamaican national team, Racers Track Club
  • 🌐 Nationality: Jamaican

Glen Mills is globally recognized for his role in nurturing the fastest man in history, Usain Bolt, guiding him to eight Olympic gold medals and spectacular world records in the 100m and 200m sprints.

Mills’ coaching style is characterized by his deep technical knowledge and an approach that fosters the individual strengths of his athletes, which has been monumental in Jamaica’s ascendancy in track and field sprinting.

Beyond Bolt, Mills has contributed to the successes of many other elite sprinters through Racers Track Club, cementing his status as one of the premier sprint coaches in the world.

#8 John Smith

  • πŸ† Achievements: Coach of Olympic gold medalists and world champions
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1970s–Present
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: UCLA, HSI (Health & Sports International)
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

John Smith, himself a former world-class sprinter, has made significant contributions to the coaching world, guiding athletes to Olympic and World Championship victories.

His expertise has been particularly notable in the 400m event, with a coaching philosophy that prioritizes speed maintenance and efficient energy distribution throughout a race.

Smith’s impact is evidenced by the sustained excellence of his trainees, who have consistently performed at the highest levels of international competition.

#9 Bud Winter

  • πŸ† Achievements: Pioneer of the “relaxation” technique in sprinting, coach of world-record sprinters
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1940s–1970s
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: San Jose State University
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Bud Winter is renowned for his contributions to the development of the ‘relaxation technique’ in sprinting, helping athletes achieve peak performance through reduced tension.

During his coaching career at San Jose State University, Winter’s method proved highly effective, resulting in a number of his athletes breaking world records and winning Olympic medals.

His teachings have had a lasting impact on track and field coaching, influencing the strategies employed by sprint coaches to this day.

#10 Dan Pfaff

  • πŸ† Achievements: Coach of multiple Olympic medalists and World Champions
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1970s–Present
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: University of Texas at Austin, ALTIS
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Dan Pfaff has been recognized for his holistic approach to coaching that encompasses biomechanics, physiology, psychology, and life skills.

Renowned for his technical coaching expertise, Pfaff has coached athletes across a wide range of events, including sprints, jumps, and throws, guiding them to Olympic and World Championship glory.

Pfaff’s methodology, marked by his attention to detail and individualized athlete programs, has established him as a prominent figure among elite track and field coaches worldwide.

Track and Field


Who is the greatest track and field coach of all time?

Brooks Johnson is considered by many to be the greatest track and field coach, having trained 49 Olympians including Evelyn Ashford and Chandra Cheeseborough.

Who was the most successful track and field coach?

Tommie Smith is often cited as the most successful track and field coach, mentoring 6 Olympic medalists and over 120 All-Americans, with athletes setting numerous world records under his guidance.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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Harry Marra

WOW….what an honor. Thank you.