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Sprints (Further Development)

Sprint Training and the Phases of Sprinting

Warm-Up Locomotor Moves
Skill Development Phases of Sprinting (reaction, acceleration, finishing)
Wrap-Up Game Beanbag Challenge
Printable PDF of this session


You will need cones for these warm-up activities.

Mummy Walks

Athletes walk forward with their arms stretched out, pretending to be mummies. Keeping the legs straight, swing them forward as high as the navel. During the first set, have athletes keep their planted foot flat on the ground. During the second, they can rise up on their toes.

Knee Hugs

Athletes move at a slow marching pace, alternating between hugging each knee to their chest. Hold the stretch for two to three seconds while balancing on one leg.

Toe Walks & Heel Walks

Athletes walk on their tiptoes with the feet facing forward, then outward, and finally inward. Have the students do the same thing on their heels, holding their toes off the track.


Athletes start by crossing one leg in front of the other, lift the knee up and over to get a better stretch of the outer hip muscles. Stay on the balls of the feet throughout the exercise while maintaining upright posture. Stretch the arms out roughly parallel to the ground and hold them still or swing them in a controlled, fluid, side-to-side motion in opposition to the movement of the legs.

Phases of Sprinting

It can help young runners to learn phases of sprint races separately:


You will need cones and a whistle. Reaction time is the interval between the whistle or starter's gun going off and an athlete's first movements. Have your athletes practice reacting to the whistle and voice commands whenever you can.

Get up, Stand up!

Have athletes lie down on the ground (backs or stomachs are fine). On your command (voice, clap, whistle), they get up and sprint toward you. You should stand 20 to 30 yards away. Practice this for 5 to 10 minutes.


Acceleration training helps develop sprint starts. To develop acceleration, practice the following exercises 5 to 10 times:

  1. A crouch start and sprint on command for 30 yards.
  2. Double leg jumps into an accelerated run for 10 yards.


For all sprints, encourage your runners not to slow down before or at the finish line. Tell them to "run through the line," running hard for two strides past the finish. They should use a slight body lean at the finish, thrusting the chest forward. To practice, have athletes race each other for 10 yards, finishing with the correct technique. When practicing sprints make sure to have enough room after the finish line for the runner to slow down.

Wrap-up Game

Beanbag Challenge

You will need cones, beanbags, and a whistle. Spread the beanbags randomly across the playing field. Divide runners into as many teams as you have beanbag colors. Remind them that this is not a relay race. Have runners stand in straight lines a set distance away from the beanbags. Announce a color and the first member of each team will try to collect as many beanbags of that color. When you have done this for each color, the game is over.

For a more advanced game, have runners sit until you call a color; have them sit facing away from the beanbags; or assign an exercise (jumping jacks, push-ups, squats etc.) before they can run to collect beanbags. You can also enforce a time limit—if a student does not return to the starting line in time, they must return their beanbags to the middle.

Cool Down

Light Jog (2-5 minutes)

Lead the group on a light jog.

Static Stretching (3-5 minutes)

Have students form a circle around you and lead them in static stretches.

Please see the Supplementary Session on Stretching for additional stretches.

Youth and Schools

New York Road Runners Mission