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Help Child Run Faster

The best way to help your child run faster, is to follow these five simple rules:

Rule #1: Make It Fun
This is probably the most important factor in helping your child to run faster. You have to get your son or daughter to want to practice their drills and do their speed training if they’re going to see results. Often times I will start working with an athlete who clearly is only there because their parent (almost always the father) is making them. When it comes time to learn new skills, the child’s head is not in it. This makes it more difficult for athletes to learn, they make more mistakes, get even more frustrated and generally get nothing out of the training.

What I have learned to do with young athletes, and I suggest you do the same, is to make our speed training into a game. There are many ways you can do this. For example, you can set drills up like an obstacle course and time how fast they can complete it or have them race against other athletes in teams. If they make a mistake because they are going too fast, you can give a time ‘penalty’ or have them go back and do it again. I will often do games like that with agility ladders or play speed games that work on the skills that athletes learn during more traditional speed development. Kids have a great time doing it because the games are fun and other athletes get excited when cheering on their teammates.

Just make sure you keep an eye on the performance of the athlete/s. If they start losing focus or making more mistakes than they did at the beginning of the day, then they are getting tired or bored. At that point, it is time to stop the workout because your child has reached a point of diminishing returns. To have them keep going is only going to make them resent the workouts and learn bad form.

Rule #2: Develop Your Child's Coordination
Running fast or making sharp cuts requires a great deal of coordination. There are a lot of movements that the brain has to coordinate simultaneously and at a high speed when trying to not only make move with good technique, but also do it at faster speeds.

This is why you must develop the coordination of your children in order to maximize their ability to make improvements to their speed and agility.

You can develop their coordination by using agility ladders, practicing running drills and practicing movements you want to get good at, but at slower speeds. Repetition of perfect form at slower speeds is essential. Then as your child gets better at doing it at half speed, you can increase the intensity and do it faster and faster. Another way to develop coordination is to practice drills while incorporating an element of their favorite sports. So if they are a football player, they could do an agility ladder drill, then catch a football as soon as they finish, then run through another agility ladder drill while carrying the ball.

The important thing is to back off and move at a pace where your child can be successful first, then add the more complicated elements later. But the younger they develop their coordination, the farther ahead of their peers they will be once their bodies are more developed. Athletes I work with who start this skill development before puberty end up as far superior athletes than their untrained peers.

Rule #3 Teach Good Form
This sounds like a no-brainer but it has to be stressed. You can’t help your child run faster if you teach them drills incorrectly or don’t give them helpful information to correct their mistakes. You can’t just have them do the same type of things you used to do when you were younger. That old school training isn’t going to help your child improve their speed.

Like I talked about with coordination, if they learn good technique in everything they do at an early age, it will be hardwired into their brains and muscles and as they grow older and more skilled, those perfect mechanics will carry over into athletic success, especially greater speed and agility.

So make the most of the workouts and training that your child does by being strict about using good form. If you’re doing agility ladder drills, don’t let them kick the ladder. If you’re working on running form, make sure your child focuses on applying force to the ground and if you’re working on agility, make sure the athlete keeps the shoulders above the hips. When planting in order to make a cut, knee inside the ankle and hip inside the knee.

Rule #4: Don’t Overtrain
The last thing you want to do when trying to help your child run faster is make them workout so much that it causes them to get slower. And this happens more often then you might think with overzealous coaches and parents who don’t quite understand how training affects the body.

The goal of any workout or speed training program is create enough of a stimulus to foster an adaptation by the body to that stimulus. It takes some practice and experience to know exactly what the line is between ‘enough’ and ‘too much.’ So if you’re not positive about where that line is, always err on the side of too little training as opposed to too much.

You want to do enough to keep things fun, get a good workout and make your child want to come back later and practice again.

I see a lot of overuse injuries in young athletes like shin splints, excessive muscle soreness, stress fractures and knee problems because they’re trying to do too much. Recovering from workouts is just as important as doing the workout itself.

Rule #5: Be Consistent
If you apply all the previous rules as I discussed them, then this final rule should be the natural result.

You get better at anything by consistently repeating and practicing that particular skill over and over. When working with your child on their speed development, the same rules apply. However, let’s say you’re teaching an agility ladder drill. You have to explain it the same way each time in order for them to learn it correctly. Giving your child mixed messages or contradictory advice will only make them hesitate and get easily frustrated by mistakes.

Also, remember that speed is a skill that has to be learned. To make consistent improvements and get consistent results, all the skills that factor into speed development have to be practiced regularly. Your son or daughter can’t expect to get faster if you help them a couple times and then send them off to ‘practice’ on their own without your watchful eye.

On top of that, get your child into a pattern of practicing regularly. One day this week, once next week, and twice the week after that is not enough repetition to make consistent improvements. You get what you put into it.

It’s pretty easy to help any child run faster as long as you follow these guiding principles in your training.

 

 

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