Form 101: Introduction
Form 101 is a five segment series that explains the fundamentals of good running form. This segment covers the importance of teaching good form and six guidelines for approaching form training.

Key Benefits:

Improving your athletes' running technique will help them:

  • Run with greater ease and efficiency
  • Be less prone to injury
  • Become more aware of their body mechanics
  • Improve their endurance while getting stronger and faster

Guidelines:

  1. Running is a technical sport and sound running technique is a learned skill, not an innate ability. It needs to be taught and practiced.
  2. The best way to teach form is by regularly practicing specialized exercises and drills; relying on instructions alone can lead to injury. Drills break good form into manageable elements. They also isolate and exaggerate movements of the running stride to build the strength, power, and efficient neuromuscular reactions needed for each component of running.
  3. Consider each athlete's strength, mental maturity, skill, and motivation when designing your training. Keep in mind that each of your athletes will be at different levels, so the training and coaching you give them should vary accordingly.
  4. Always account for each runner's body build. A variety of structural differences can cause flaws in form that drills may not completely correct. Puberty can also cause rapid changes in body build at this age, which can make some movements feel awkward. Be mindful of differences in growth rates among runners, avoid pushing your runners to do movements that are uncomfortable, and if you become aware of structural problems, consult a sports doctor.
  5. Remember that while there is no single perfect form for running, there are techniques that are safer and more efficient than others, which can lead to better performance.
  6. As important as good form is, your primary goal as a coach is to keep running fun.

Additional Points:

  • Middle school is the time to transition from play to training and to gradually introduce competition. A focus on form is especially important as kids undergo major physical changes during puberty.
  • Most of your training should focus on the basics, but you can also introduce finer aspects of form and begin teaching the logic behind good form and form training.
  • We demonstrate widely accepted elements of good running form in our other Form 101 segments: Fundamental Athletic Skills, Running Posture, Leg Movements and Arm Movements. Then take a look at the activity segments in A Running Start for ways to teach those form elements.