Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Running Technique for Kids: 4 easy activities to promote good form – Part One

I’m often asked by mums and dads ‘how to improve my daughter/son’s running technique’ and ‘their arms go everywhere and they seem quite slow on the field’. It’s a fair question because we all want our kids to do their best and enjoy playing a variety of sports, most of which involve running

Firstly let me address? Style v Technique, which will partly help explain things. For me ‘style’ is how someone looks when running. So things such as the way they swing their arms, hold their body, and the way their legs move. Technique, however, are things that are not so obvious from the naked eye that relate to how efficient and powerful someone runs. In other words how much energy are they using, how economical they are, how long is their stride, how fast are they turning their legs over, and how much load is going through their body. So someone who looks like they’ve got ‘great style’ may not actually have all the aspects of good technique, yet someone who maximises the aspects of technique referred to may actually look really bad. There’s plenty of examples, even at the elite level.

Stages of the Running Gait

Up on the toes to push off to go into airborne stage

Airborne (well, almost)
Both feet off the ground

All stages
All stages can be seen here, from landing, mid-stance, push-off, and airborne

One of the important things to consider with young runners though is that they’re growing and learning how to use their bodies, and sometimes they’ll be at that ‘uncoordinated’ stage when, for example, their legs are too long for their body. So it’s important to not worry too much for this reason. Another factor is that we all have different ratios of arm, torso, leg lengths, so we’re all going to look slightly different no matter what. Even the most minute difference in where our foot lands, how much our knee bends or how much we swing our arms will show up in differences to how we all look

So with all that said, can we improve our running technique? (and style). Well the short answer is definitely YES. How do we do it? In this THREE part series I’ll provide some very simple activities your child can do, even @ home, that will improve things such as their spring off the ground to give a longer stride length, core stability for better economy and injury prevention, and arm carry for better overall speed and coordination

At home activities: the following can actually be done almost anywhere, and they’re things that your kids may actually do, or have done, already


  • most kids would have done this at some stage. Great for improving strength and power in their legs for the pushing off stage of running
  • there are various ways it can be done, from standard double leg, to single leg, double rope turn with each jump, skip & run, timed say, 100, or how how many completed in a set time
  • for sizing, stand on the rope, and the ends should be around arm pits

Hula Hoop

  • another classic ‘old school’ activity that develops excellent functional core strength/stability
  • it can take a bit of practice to get, but if you persist you will suddenly just get it. Shouldn’t take more than a week of daily practice to get
  • for variety and overall balance, master turning the hoop both ways. Also, if you can do it moving your hips forward and back, master doing it by moving your hips sideways too

Frog Jumping

  • another great, yet simple activity to develop leg strength and power
  • make sure you swing your arms back as far as they’ll go as you bend your knees, then swing them up powerfully as you leapt forward and up
  • measure the distance for say 5 jumps; get timed for doing say 5 jumps up and back; or do relay races with friends

On the Spot Running

  • simply running on the spot with a good powerful arm action, high knees, and good posture
  • let your arms swing slightly across your body, elbows right back, and hands to about your nose level
  • get timed for say 50 arm pumps, or see how long you can go for keeping the knees at least navel height

Check out a short video on the above activities

You can choose one of the activities at a time to practice, or a small amount of each of them in a session. It doesn’t have to be every day, just regularly!

Bye for now, and I’ll continue with some activities that require a little more room, such as at the local oval, in PART TWO of this series.

Article provided by Richard Sarkies