Sprinting is an integral part of most youth sports. Being able to run fast is crucial for football, baseball, basketball and soccer.
Even in volleyball, sprinting is important, though it’s not part of the game.
And long distance and cross-country runners need to sprint. And swimmers need to sprint, though they don’t run.
Besides the benefits of sprinting in competiton, sprinting is also excellent for building general athletic skills and weight control. Look at the bodies of sprinters in the Olympics. They are all lean and muscular.
But when is the best time to put sprints into a workout?
Here are four places you can put some sprints into your youth sports practice.
It makes sense to do sprinting at the beginning of practice. After a warm-up kids are ready to go. Neuroloigically, it will have the best benefit. Kids aren’t tired and can focus on good technique. Doing sprints at the beginning of practice will make them faster.
The thoughts of doing sprints at the end of practice are that it will make them better conditioned and tougher. When the other team is tired towards the end of the game your team will be in better shape and be able to take advantage.
Both of these reasons are valid. There are a few concerns about doing sprints at the end of practice, however:
1. Make sure the kids are sprinting. If they are too fatigued and sprint with bad technique and effort they will only get better at doing things slower, not faster.
2. Be careful for injuries and overtraining. At the end of practice, the team is tired. They will tend to get hurt and push themselves too far. Always provide enough rest between sets.
For most sports, athletes have to sprint throughout the game. Therefore, it makes sense to sprint at various points of practice. This accustoms their bodies to being able sprint at any time.
In my opinion, the best time for sprinting is to vary it throughout the season. Sometimes sprint at the beginning, sometimes at the end and sometimes sprint throughout practice.
Be careful of overtraining. Sprinting and going hard is easy to over do. More is not better.
Training kids to get a sweat and fatigue response is not good coaching. Provide enough rest between runs so that they are going at least 90% and running with good technique.
Coach Ron Usher
Every child an athlete
Be an athlete for life!