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Form 101: Fundamental Athletic Skills

Runners must develop a full range of fundamental athletic skills in order to perform at their highest levels and avoid injury.

Tags: middle school, form


Six Fundamental Athletic Skills:

  1. Strength is the capacity to generate forceful muscle contractions.
  2. Power is the ability to generate those forceful muscle contractions quickly. By developing strength and power, runners can counteract the stresses on the body caused by the running stride and become better equipped to maintain fast paces, endure muscle fatigue, and avoid injury.
  3. Coordination is the skill of sequencing and timing muscle contractions for efficient movement.
  4. Flexibility is the ability to move joints and muscles through a full range of motion, which is important for maximum extension, proper body alignment, and possibly injury prevention.
  5. Balance leads to joint and posture stability.
  6. Agility enables one to change direction quickly. Balance and agility are especially important for cross country runners as both skills come into play when athletes react to destabilizing movements and confront sharp turns and uneven terrain.

Additional Points:

  • Form drill circuits, a continuous cycle of form drills repeated multiple times, is a good way to approach form training for fundamental athletic skills and running technique. They can be a staple of workouts early in the training season, lasting up to 20-30 minutes as the main workout of the day. Later in the season, use shorter circuits, lasting 5-10 minutes, to maintain strength, power, coordination, agility and sound technique.
  • For strength training, distance runners should focus on developing strength-endurance, the capacity to produce moderate-intensity muscle contractions over long intervals without tiring, rather than bulking up. Sprinters will want to develop power and speed; while bigger muscles help, runners should not focus on bulking up at this age.
  • At this age, runners should only do strength exercises that use their own body weight as resistance.
  • The form activities, strength exercises, stretches and games featured in Running Start will improve runners' fundamental athletic skills.

Other Form Videos

Form 101: Introduction

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

Tags: middle 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.

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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: middle school, form

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