How to Teach Kids To Run Faster
Developing a child’s speed is a big deal when they’re involved in sports. And many kids would like to run faster just for the sake of it, or to reach a personal goal. Teaching kids to run faster boils down to helping them develop good form and ensuring they have fun while practicing. Keep track of their progress so they stay motivated, and don’t forget to run with them!
Warm up with jumping exercises. Jumping can help kids build the muscles they need to be strong runners. Before you begin to practice running, lead the kids through a set of jumping jacks or let them use a jump rope.
Check their form while they run in place. Ask kids to run in place as hard as they can for five seconds. Watch their form, and see if they have any weakness. Good sprinting form means:
- Pushing with the front foot.
- Leaning forward so that the feet are behind the hips, and the hips behind the shoulders (also known as the triple extension).
- Keeping the torso vertical.
- Holding the head still and relaxing the face.
- Bending the elbows at right angles.
- Keeping the arms close to the sides as they pump up and down.
- Lifting the front knee high while straightening the back leg.
Model proper technique for them. If you notice any issues right away, say so. Then, run in place together with the kids. Mention how you are using correct form. They can watch you to see the right way to do things, and you can watch them to check for improvement
Help the kids visualize what good running feels like. Giving kids little reminders of what to do while running makes a big difference. For instance, tell the kids to imagine that their feet are pushing their hips forward. This helps them remember that most of the force for sprinting should come from the feet pushing away from the ground.
- You could also tell the kids to imagine they are holding a bird in each hand as they run. That way, they remember to keep their hands closed, but not clenched
Give them verbal cues. Have the kids practice sprinting. As they run, call out reminders to focus on the aspects of form they need to work on in order to improve. For instance:
- If you have a kid who doesn’t swing their arms wide enough, call out “Hip to lip!” as they run. That will remind them to swing the arms all the way from the sides up toward their face.
- If a kid isn’t lifting their legs enough, call out “Knees up! Knees up!