Mastering Track Yardage

One of the requirements for tracking tests at all levels is track length. Tracking enthusiasts and judges need to acquire several skills to lay regulation tracks.

Calculate your “walking-stride to yards” ratio.
Very few people have a stride that measures exactly a yard with each step. The first thing that you need to do is to find out how many steps you take in a controlled, measured length. An official running track is 437.45 yards, a football field is 100 yards from the goal line to goal line or 120 yards if you include the goal areas on each end. Practicing on these fields will give you a good baseline of your stride length but keep in mind that this is a quite easy walking environment, and your stride will shorten in heavy cover and on hills. Once you have your stride to yard calculation you can make up a conversion chart, use a multiplier or “skip a step” count as you walk.

Here are examples of ways to calculate yardage for a person that takes 125 paces for 100 yards (yours will probably be different):

Chart: # Step = # Yards
i.e., 5 steps = 4 yards; 20 steps = 15 yards; 60 steps = 45 yards; 125 steps = 100 yards
Multiply your steps by .75
Skip every fourth step in your step count
(1, 2, 3, take a step without counting, 4, 5, 6, take a step without counting, etc.). With this method you will always know your running track measurement in yards.

This is a good exercise to do from time to time, as your stride can change.

Develop a Good Sense of Distance.
You must be able to gauge (“eye”) distances accurately in the field to know if it is possible to plot elements like:

  • A minimum, 50-yard leg
  • A minimum, 100-yard leg to hold cross-tracks
  • Plot a Moment-of-Truth turn with at least 30 yards of non-veg after the turn
  • Stay more than 50 yards away from another track
  • Have enough space for a regulation length track in a field

Much like a golfer who hones his ability to estimate the distance from his golf ball to the pin to choose the right club, a tracking enthusiast can train themselves to estimate distances in the field or urban surroundings. You can stand at a corner and find a landmark out in the field, jot down your yardage guess and then see how close you are. This can be done in everyday life as well… park your car at the back of the Walmart lot and see how close you can come to estimating the yardage to the front door before you walk off the measurement. Practice makes perfect. You will be glad that you played these games and own this skill.

Happy Tracking!