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Springy Feet

Helpful for kids who tend to land on their heels or toes, these exercises show how to land on the midfoot

Tags: elementary school, legs & feet

Objectives Springy Feet helps students learn to land on their midfoot, rather than on their heels or toes. This promotes more efficient and enjoyable running, faster times, and fewer injuries.
Standards National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE)
Standards 1,2
New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Standard 1
Time Required 15 minutes
Materials None required

 

Prepare for the Activity

  • Watch the Form 101: Leg Movements video below to familiarize yourself with the six elements of leg movement, including how and why runners should land on the midfoot, as well as common errors to watch for.
  • Check out the Bricks & Feathers activity which addresses other elements related to leg movements.
  • Also see the “Assessment” section for reference.

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

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Form

This video shows the six fundamentals of leg movement for elementary schoolers.

Click here to access on Teacher Tube

Introduce the Activity

  • Tell students the name of the activity and its purpose: to try running on different parts of their foot and explore why landing on the middle of their foot is both the most powerful and the most gentle.
  • Have your students spread out to make good use of the space you have and to ensure safety.

Conduct the Activity

  1. First demonstrate running on your heels. Then your toes. Finally, point out where the ball of your foot is. Demonstrate midfoot running while jogging in place.
  2. Tell students that running on their toes can be very tiring and running on the heels is almost like putting on the breaks. Then tell them to touch the ball of their foot and imagine there is a spring in there that will push them forward. Landing on the middle of their foot is the most powerful and least tiring.
  3. Have students try out all three types: Tippy Toes, Heavy Heels, and Springy Feet.
  4. Once they have tried all three ways of landing, play a quick game where you call out the types and have them switching back and forth every 10-15 seconds.
  5. Have students run for 15 to 30 meters on a straightaway, using “springy feet” by landing on their midfoot. Observe them and comment on their technique as they run. Have students complete this run two or three times, time permitting.

Assess the Students

What to watch for:

  • Midfoot striking the ground first.
  • The heel can lightly touch the ground after the midfoot does.
  • The foot springs forward quickly.
  • Students being light on their feet.

Direction cues to share with students:

  • “Springy feet!”
  • “Land on the middle of your foot.”
  • “Light on your feet.”

Note: Focus on one or two of the cues at a time as you assess students. Don't overload them with directions.

Discussion

After finishing Springy Feet, talk to your students about their experience with the activity and the fundamentals of landing on the midfoot or ball of the foot. Consider asking questions like these:

  • How did it feel to run with “springy feet”?
  • Did it feel better landing on the middle of your foot, your heels, or your toes?
  • What part of the foot should make contact with the ground first? (Answer: The midfoot/ball of the foot)

 

Modifications

  • Have students chant, “One, two, spring in my shoe!” as they jog with springing feet.
  • Have the students sit down and remove their shoes and point to each part of their foot: toes, ball, arch, heel and reinforce where on the foot they should be landing.
  • Have students jump rope, this will help them feel how they are supposed to land gently on the balls of their feet.

Inclusion Strategies

Classrooms are filled with learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including ESL students, those with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. Consider these adaptations as you work to modify the lesson for student success.

  • Encourage the use of a mini trampoline to learn how to do this activity. Consider running in place or a quick feet drill to reinforce this activity.
  • Remember that some children may have difficulty striking the midsection of the foot—assess what they can do and ask them to show you a “soft landing” as they run—running across a mat or other spongy surface may also help them understand what you want.

Youth and Schools