Fostering good form habits will help your runners:
Become more aware of their bodies and how to use them
Run with greater ease and enjoyment
Develop a foundation that prepares them to learn more precise running technique when they are older
Do not be concerned with competition or performance. The main goal at this age is to have fun. The more fun kids have, the more likely they are to stay active and become lifelong runners and skilled athletes.
Running is a technical sport and sound running technique is a learned skill, not an innate ability. Teach kids their first lessons about good technique through exploration and fun challenges. Explore different movements and movement intensities, incorporate games, and give kids memorable ways to understand the basic message you are teaching.
Stay focused on the fundamentals of running form and efficient movement in general, including developing body awareness and skills such as balance and coordination. These basics are the building blocks for increasing overall athletic ability and the basis upon which good running form can later be taught most effectively.
At no time should you push your kids past their physical limits or level of motivation. Cultivating fundamental skills is important, mastering them is not. Pushing your kids too hard can turn them off to running and physical activity.
We often note how various form elements or activities can improve running skill and capacity. We also point out poor form and how it can be corrected. This is to help you understand running form and how the basic skills you are cultivating can help your runners down the road. This information is not intended to be shared with your kids directly and should not cause you to be concerned with performance. The goal should always be exploration and enjoyment.
We demonstrate widely accepted elements of good running form in our other Form 101 segments: Fundamental Athletic Skills, Running Posture, Leg Movements and Arm Movements. Also, look at the activity segmentsin the Coaching Videosfor ways to teach those form elements.