How to Teach Kids the Proper Form of Running

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Many runners suffer setbacks early in their careers since they develop bad habits when they learn how to run. While almost anyone capable of walking can also run, learning proper form takes concentration, repetition as well as endurance. By learning proper form early, children can avoid injuries and can increase their performance on the track. This can help keep kids running through adulthood, which could also reinforce healthy habits. By running with the correct posture and movements, young runners can excel not only in running, but in other sports that involve running as well.

  • Demonstrate running in place and lifting your knees as high as you can. Have kids practice. Encourage them to keep their torsos upright throughout the exercise, especially in the down-stroke motion. This drill is meant to lengthen the stride while staying tall.

  • Show kids how to run in place while kicking their heals straight back toward their butts. Have kids practice. This drill simulates a load on the hamstrings.

  • Practice running with kids' hands on their heads. This exercise will reveal any side-to-side motions while running, which should be corrected. Motion should be only in the forward direction while running.

  • Explain and demonstrate correct foot strikes. The heel should be the first part of the foot to touch the ground, and the foot should roll straight forward onto the ball of the foot. Then the heel should be lifted as the toes provide forward propulsion. The foot should not lean toward the inside or outside. Have kids practice.

  • Run along a straight stretch with very quick steps, minimizing the amount of time the foot is in contact with the ground. This exercise can be done in conjunction with the high knee exercise.

  • Practice running strides at the end of each workout. Runners should accelerate slowly from a jog to about 90 percent effort, or their 800-meter race pace, for about 100 meters. This exercise should be repeated four to six times.

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