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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: middle 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." Acknowledge that they typically won't see bad running form as exaggerated as they just demonstrated it, but they should use this activity to help them recognize potential areas for improvement.

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

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Youth and Schools