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Learning To Run Correctly

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My son who is 10 years old has terrible form when running. He plays soccer, basketball and baseball. He has decent coordination and is above average in size but he is hampered by poor running mechanics. You can really see him trying to run fast but his tight hand, arms and shoulders hold him back.

How can I help him develop better mechanics.



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Hi Doug,

Start off slow with your son. Have him do drills like high knees, butt kicks, A-skips, B-skips. Drills like these help your form if they are done correctly and slowly. In time, his form should improve. Also, have him do striders to practice good technique. Trying to have great form while sprinting is pointless is great form isnt achieved during striders.

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Be patient. Get a video camera.

Mark off a 40 yard sprint...

Film him as he sprints from the front...and if time allows again from the side. Have him go at 75% and don't tell him to do anything but just run normally.

Brian has some outstanding info on running form here on this message board...read it a few times then get some film or footage of sprinters running the 100 and 200 m and note what they are doing.

(linear speed only)

Also you can go to my site www.gregorydoublewing.homestead.com and click on youth development and I discuss linear and lateral speed techs...

Now have him watch his video a few times and then have him watch video of the sprinters. Then review with him the points of a good form. Then have him point out his bad techniques.

Then get on the field and work on them. Again be patient.

Some of the biggest flaws (and simplest to fix) are body position and correct form.

Once you get the linear speed techniques corrected move on to lateral speed form (this is what sports is really about is lateral speed).

Sounds like you need to develop a good dynamic flexibilty program that concentrates on form and developing good flexibility. The more he runs (in correct form) the more comfortabley he will get (due to the patterns being remembered and becoming ingrained) and the better he will get. He should get faster as this happens..

My suggestion:

15 to 20 yards distance (there and back)


high knees (not fast - focus on form)

heel taps (butt kickers) (not fast - focus on form)

walking lunges

running backwards (not fast - focus on form)

sprint (start at 75% and concentrate on form)

sprint ( as above)

heel taps (as above)

high knees (as above)

Get him to relax....it is a key point of good running. If he is tense then he is not running at his full potential of speed since he is wasting energy on unneed muscle contractions.

Also on lateral speed a good dynamic flexibility program that I use with my team as above there and back facing the same direction:


shuffle (slow - good form)

carioca (slow - good form)

lateral lunges (shuffle and squat in the open position)

carioca with high step (slow - good form)

shuffle touch ground in open position (bend at the knees not waist - start slow)

fast shuffle

fast carioca

bear crawl ( i have found that kids that bear crawl well have good coordination and lateral movement)

There are other things you can add to the above but these are great starting points.

As you go through your improvement program refilm him occassionally and have him review his old film, to the new film.

With lateral speed have him do a pro agility drill and a bear crawl ladder and film him front and to the side and do the same thing. Get some game film of kids on the field with good lateral speed (HS football games and soccer games as well).

I have found kids are amazing critics of themselves and if they can see mistakes and understand how to fix them they will adapt fast.


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Check his overall flexibility of his shoulders, arms, and especially the legs. I try to tell the youth I train to 'stay relaxed' in the shoulders, and I work on drills that help improve flexibility. One item I've used before and during their training sessions is something called 'The Stick'. Its a neuromuscular stimulator, like a rolling pin, used across your muscles to help improve blood flow and circulation. It also helps get out any 'tight spots' or tender spots in the belly of the muscles. Its shown to be a great improver in flexibility and muscle recovery.

Rick Karboviak, CSCS


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Hi, these are some useful technique tips aimed at helping young soccer players who want to achieve faster sprint speeds, so they may be relevant to your son.

Soccer coaching tips to improve sprint speeds

Children run in all sorts of ways - you only have to go to the school sports day to see what a difference it makes if they look like a runner. It's the same for your soccer players, some will struggle to get going, whereas others are naturally speedy. But you can improve all players' running by coaching these techniques and using soccer drills to work on speed and agility.

Short sprints

As a soccer coach you need to know how a player should run so you can show them and get them to try it for themselves. Players need to be able to sprint in short bursts to track back when the ball is lost, for instance, or to explode into the penalty area to support an attack.

This is a blueprint for you to share with your players to put them on the right track to getting more speed through technique.

Balls of the Feet drill

To get the full power out of the legs of the players, they need to sprint on the balls of their feet. Demonstrate this to the players by getting them to try running on the heels and on flat feet. Then have them run on the balls of the feet and feel the difference.

High knees

The higher the knee lift, the more power is generated when the foot returns to hit the ground.

Arm drive drill

Your legs move at the same speed as your arms. Get your players to jog on the spot with their arms by their sides. Then tell them to pump their arms as fast as possible and notice what happens to their legs.

They will move much faster.

In order to sprint efficiently the elbow joint needs to be locked at 90° and the arms need to drive backwards explosively on each step.

Develop arm power with players sitting with outstretched legs. They drive their arms and try to get their backsides off the ground.

Hips forward

When in full flight it is important to get the hips or pelvis tilted forward. This makes sure the gluteus muscles (your backsides and the largest in the body) are used properly when sprinting.

It also helps the player stay balanced when sprinting as their feet stay underneath their body.

The article is taken from http://www.bettersoccercoaching.com which has some really useful information for soccer (football) coaches, whether you're coaching youngsters or more advanced players.

The drills and articles are all free to download from the site.

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