Ask Coach – Youth Speed

Q: My son is 8 years old. He needs more speed. For his age, what’s the best way to work on that?

A: With youth training you have to fight the urge to make things fancy and complicated. They will respond very well to basic exercises, as well as learning them very quickly. Something to remember, any training or exercise is meant to serve as a stimulus to adapt to. Once you adapt to it, that drill is not going to be nearly as effective.

Adding in some simple jump drills, hurdles or boxes, can make a world of difference with speed and athleticism.

If you introduce complicated exercises early, you have nothing to use later in order to continue to make progress.

Jump Rope – the classic jump rope is a great way to develop ankle and foot strength, along with coordination.

Planks, Push-ups, and Pull-ups – there is a proven correlation between proficiency in bodyweight exercises and sprinting speed. Not to mention building strength in the core and hip flexors improves knee drive, meaning faster acceleration.

Chase Drills (Tag) – this is included for a few reasons. 1) Sports are chaotic, not pre-determined. Working in patterns that are also not pre-determined will carry over much better. 2) You have to be sure to keep things fun and interesting.

The Elephant in the Room: The average body weight for everyone (youth included) is climbing year after year. I know it’s unpleasant to talk about but if your young athlete is carrying around excess body fat that is comparable to trying to run with a weight vest on.

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