Bricks & Feathers

A form exercise that encourages runners to avoid plodding, land softly on the balls of the feet, and run with upright posture and fluid arm swing

Tags: high school, form

Instructions:

  1. Have your team begin jogging at a moderate pace.
  2. Alternate between calling out "Bricks!" and "Feathers!" every 15-30 seconds.
  3. When you call out "Bricks!" they should run heavy, as if they have a sack of bricks on their back. When you call out "Feathers!" they should run light, as if they have only feathers on their back.
  4. After the exercise ask them for their observations about their running form in "Bricks" versus "Feathers" and encourage them to always "run with feathers."

Performance Points:

  • Whether in the "bricks" or "feathers" phase, runners should always be running. In the "bricks" phase, the running may be slow and may resemble stomping, but it should still be running, not walking or marching. In the "feathers" phase, runners should not leap, gallop, or prance on tiptoes.
  • Runners should pay attention to how each phase feels.
  • Key features of the "bricks" phase:
    • Landing with flat, heavy feet
    • Loud stomping sounds
    • Hunched posture
    • Restricted arm movements
    • Short strides
  • Key features of the "feathers" phase:
    • Landing lightly on the balls of the feet, not the toes
    • Quiet feet
    • Relaxed, upright posture
    • Full, fluid arm movements
    • Long strides
  • During future running sessions call out pointers like "get the bricks off your back" and "land like a feather" as coaching cues when you notice heavy foot-striking and hunched postures.

Training Specifics:

Duration / Reps: Alternate between calling "bricks" and "feathers" every 15-30 seconds for 5-10 minutes

When:

  • After the warm-up routine
  • Early in the season, then later as needed for review or reinforcement

Benefits:

  • Encourages young runners to avoid plodding and to land softly on the balls of the feet, which minimizes stress on the leg joints and promotes powerful strides
  • Promotes relaxed, upright posture, and full, fluid arm swing for more efficient, powerful running

Other Form Videos

Form 101: Introduction

Form 101 is a five segment series explaining the fundamentals of good running form. This segment covers the importance of teaching good form and six guidelines for approaching form training.

Tags: high school, form

Form 101: Leg Movements

This segment focuses on elements of the leg movement that lengthen the running stride and increase turnover for faster running, and that promote comfortable, injury-free running.

Tags: high school, form

High Skips

A form exercise that develops powerful push-offs and greater knee lift; trains the body to use the elastic energy stored in the muscles and tendons; and develops strength, power, and endurance of the quads, hamstrings, and glutes

Tags: high school, form

Youth and Schools