Speed and agility drills improve the fitness of both recreational and competitive athletes. For kids, these drills can help develop good form, prevent injuries and enhance performance. Plus, speed and agility drills for kids add variety and interest to any workout regime.
Focus on form. In every speed and agility drill, the back should be straight with body weight centered over the middle of the foot. Keep shoulders and hips squared so that athletes aren't twisting the neck or pelvis. For running and forward motion drills, pump arms at a 90-degree angle. Good form yields greater improvement and fewer injuries.
Practice sprints. One of the most effective ways to improve speed is to run fast, but that doesn't mean kids need to run suicide drills in a gymnasium. Make practice fun and effective by playing sprinting games like red light/green light, capture the flag, tag or relays.
Use plyometric drills like skips and hops. Alternate hopping on one foot and then on the other; try hopping back and forth across a line--a track works well for this drill. Add in short cones, and ask athletes to hop over a series of cones. Take skips from childhood and reach for height or distance by driving up or forward with each step. These drills build strength in joints, tendons and muscles--thus improving speed and agility. Make the drills fun by setting up an obstacle course or by playing "Simon Says."
Emphasize variety. Try different techniques, like asking athletes to walk on their toes or heels, sprinting backwards, and skipping sideways. As long as kids maintain good form during each drill and don't over-exert themselves, experimenting with a variety of speed and agility drills makes training stimulating and fun for the mind and the body.
- Assess an athlete's form, condition and ability level, and tailor speed and agility drills to meet each kid's individual needs. Especially with kids, whose growing bodies cannot handle the same physical stresses as adults' bodies, the focus needs to be on good form and safe conditions.