Tips to Improve Your Kid’s Running Skills
Most sports require the need to change directions. When training this specific skill, you will discover you are working all the muscles in your legs and in your feet. When developing this skill in children the intensity should be fairly moderate. The goal for young children, ages 5 to 8 years old who have just begun sports, is to focus on running form and posture. Once your child has an athletic gait and stride watch how they stop their body, use their arms and where they look. The 3 most basic, yet overlooked tips you can give your child when teaching them how to run is:
- Keep your knees bent when you take off, when you run and when you stop.
- Pump your arms as you run, the faster you run, the faster you pump.
- Look out in front of you or down the field/court. Essentially, look where you are going. I find this to be the most needed correction for children 4-6 years old. So many of them look at their feet and directly (down) in front of them.
For more developed young runners here are a few other tips to help your 6-9 year old run faster and with fewer injuries.
- Look to see if they are taking long steps or overextending the leading leg. When you notice this it will be obvious that they are trying to cover more ground. Do drills to teach them how to move their feet faster will help this.
- Do you notice they lead with their head? This is a posture issue. Although there is a slight forward lean, it does not all come from the waist. The bend or flexion comes from the ankles as well- this lifts the heels off the ground.
- Is there a apprx. 90 angle at their elbows when they run? You will often see kids swing their arms as they are running, but it is inefficient. The arms fold slightly at the elbows and as they run, the arms pump from the shoulder moving from the back pocket to the armpit.
Here is a drill I use in my kid’s programs at POW! The goal is to practice running, change of directions and mostly importantly – following instructions. My son is only 7 and I am working on all the skills I mentioned above. This is an easy drill to do with your child. It does not require a tremendous amount of space.
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