I’ve been working with improving speed for young athletes for years. I do have an age requirement for our services and that age is 10. Not that kids younger than 10 can’t do speed training, but the way we are set up, I prefer not to work with kids that young.
But, we get calls all the time to try and help those younger kids and I get it. You see other kids running right by your athlete and feel you do need something pronto for your pre-10 year old.
The reality of it is that what we do with our older athletes might not have much of an effect on a younger athlete’s speed. You have to modify programs for the younger athlete due to maturity and physical limitations and it probably won’t get the speed result you are looking for.
That being said, here are 5 ways you can get your young athlete faster without having to be a speed expert to employ these techniques:
- Jumping Rope – This is great to develop coordination in the athlete and athletic awareness. As they get better at jumping rope, they will develop some fast twitch muscles which eventually will be used for running.
- Free Play – Kids aren’t running around climbing trees, jumping off them, swinging from the jungle gym anymore. If they were to do more of those activities, they would start developing the overall athleticism they need that will help them get faster.
- Develop Balance – Standing on one leg for a young kid really helps their speed. Your core gets stronger by keeping you stabilized and this helps speed. The ankles in your foot that are firing a thousand times a second while you try to stay balanced all get stronger and will be more useful when you start running. Try it on each leg and if you get good at that, then try it with your eyes closed.
- Play Games – Games like tag or red light green light do wonders to spur a young athlete on to get faster. Yes, at first they might be the ones constantly getting tagged, but it is a way for them to get faster without actually having feeling like they are getting coached.
- Practice Patience – I am a parent myself and I get it. When you see kids flying by your young athlete, you just want to pick them up and run for them. But, sometimes you have to practice patience and let their athleticism develop. If you utilize the above techniques and practice patience your kid’s speed will develop.
You might look at that list and notice I did not mention running mechanics. I do feel that running mechanics are important, but the athletes younger than 10 might not have the strength/coordination to do proper running mechanics at this time. It could be more of a frustration for them to learn it then an answer to their prayers for speed.
Try those tips out, especially the patience tip, and over time your athlete will get speed comparable to the other athletes he or she is playing with.