Getting Youth Athletes Faster: Square One!

Updated: January 8, 2018

The simplest, safest, and most effective method of training a youth athlete to be faster is to get them STRONGER!

Type of Strength

Most people think of being stronger as the ability to pick up heavier objects. That’s not the type of strength that we are referring to. When we talk about strength in youth athletes (relevant to running), we are talking about the strength required to maintain body control.

Poor Control = Energy Leaks = Decreased Speed

Evaluating Youth Strength

There is 3 major things that we look for when evaluating a youth athlete for the first time.

(1) Flailing Limbs

Are the arms moving in the right pattern? Many times with youth athletes they are not strong enough to maintain the proper posture using only core muscles, so they often compensate with their arms to maintain their balance.

We want arms moving back and forth, NOT side to side.

This is a simple indicator of week core muscles.

(2) Core Crashing

Have you ever seen a youth athlete running and it looks like someone is punching them in the gut every time their foot strikes the ground? This is also an indicator of a weak core. Controlled strength can eliminate this crashing and allow energy to transfer between limbs more efficiently.

(3) Absorbing and Redirecting Each Foot Strike

We call this the “bounce”! A fast athlete looks like they are bouncing off of the floor with every foot strike. However, a youth athlete with poor leg strength looks like they are running in quick sand. That is because the athlete is not strong enough to overcome the high forces of each step and they get buried by their own bodyweight.

Youth Strength Test for Speed

Try This….We have an athlete do slow-controlled walking lunges. Many youth athletes will loose their balance, roll over their front leg instead of pushing off, or have wobbly knees. If we have an athlete unable to perform a unweighted walking lunge, then why would we assume they will be efficient runners?

Simple and structured strength training in youth athletes can have a fast and drastic impact on their running speed.

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