8 Awesome Athletics Activities That Kids Will Love
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Below I share some of the best stuff that I delivered for the first time at athletics coaching sessions for kids during the last month.
They have been included because they worked – sometimes better than expected.
Some of the ideas are my own, some I have borrowed from other sources that have been duly noted.
1. Best Group Warm Up Game Idea
I set up a square playing area and scattered 30 domes across the playing area. I placed two pop-up bins on opposite corners.
The kids lined up along one side of the playing area.
The kids had to run around the playing area, returning one cone at a time to either bin in as little time as possible.
- We played this game three times with the kids trying to clean up in less time on each occasion.
- Between each game I taught the kids how to perform a standing start, which they then used in the next game. This worked brilliantly.
- This game worked really well. A great warm up activity in which they all had to work together. Lots of speed and agility involved.
2. Best New Partner Strength & Mobility Challenge
Kids in pairs, sharing a hoop.
The kids took turns holding the hoop – standing it up on the ground – as their partner moved through it.
Constraints & Progressions
Move through hoop:
- Without knees touching the ground.
- Without touching hoop.
- With hoop held off ground at ankle height.
- With hoop held off ground at knee height.
- This was such a successful activity.
- Strength and mobility training disguised as games and challenges.
3. Best New Partner Warm Up Game
Swat the Fly
- Tie ground markers to the end of skipping ropes, enough so there is one between every two participants.
- Set up a square playing area.
- Organise the groups into pairs.
- One person in each pair is given the skipping rope/ground marker. The other is given a half pool noodle.
- The players with the skipping rope/marker runs about the playing area holding the end of the rope and dragging the cone along the ground.
- The players with the pool noodles run after their partner attempting to swat the fly (cone) with their pool noodle.
- The kids loved this game.
- It was vigorous, with lots of running, chasing, dodging and avoiding.
- I spoke to the kids about the need to look around as they ran to avoid colliding with others.
4. Best New Running Development Idea
Squash the Cockroach
- Organise the kids into small groups, each allocated a lane.
- Peg a pool noodle into the ground 5 metres ahead of the group.
- Place 5 hoops in a line in front of the group.
- One person from each group at a time runs, steps in each of the 5 hoops, circles around the noodle and steps again in each of the 5 hoops to return to the start.
- Tell the kids that there is a cockroach in each hoop that they need to squash. I found that this encouraged them to punch their feet back down to the ground as opposed to “tip-toeing” through the hoops, which is a common problem with this type of activity.
5. Best New Hurdles Development Idea
Hurdles Circular Circuit
Using the circular playing area from the first activity, I set up three obstacles around the circle – mini hurdles and a plyo box. The kids had to run around the circle and negotiate the obstacles. i.e. quick step over the hurdles and step up and over the box.
We ran both ways around the circuit.
With the help of the kids, we progressively added more obstacles, including a 45cm hurdle, until there were 7 obstacles around the circle.
The kids chose who would go first each time, which way they would run and where the next obstacle would be placed.
The focus was a lifting on the lead knee and a quick return of the lead foot to the ground.
6. Best New Jumping Development Idea
Cross The River
- Mark out a “river” about 10 metres in length.
- Give each child 2 hoops.
- The kids throw one hoop into the river (not too far) and step/jump/leap onto it. They then throw the other hoop further into the river (not too far!) to step/jump/leap onto it. From the second hoop, they reach back to get the first hoop to gather it and then throw it further into the river to step onto. And so on.
- Avoid stepping in the river.
Constrain the activity by instructing the kids in the way they need to jump e.g. 1 foot to 1 foot; 1 foot to 2 feet; 2 feet to 2 feet.
- This game involves jumping/leaping, reaching/bracing and strategising.
- This is a brilliant activity that had some unintended benefits that I only discovered once this game got underway. The main one is that the kids have to reach back to gather the hoop that have just jumped from. This often requires them to reach out to a bridge position and then slide the hoop back towards them – wonderful challenge that involved bracing the body in a prone position.
7. Best New Throwing Development Idea For Discus
Bin Throw, Roll & Sling
- Each child with a rubber ring, and standing in a lane behind a line.
- Pop-up garden bins lying down, with the opening facing the kids. (The bins were held down in windy conditions by pegged-in pool noodles).
a) Bin Throw
The kids attempt to throw their rubber ring into the bin. Any method or grip was allowed. The aim was to encourage kids to experiment and problem solve.
b) Bin Roll
The kids tried to roll the rings into the bins, using a discus grip.
d) Bin Sling
The kids attempted to sling the rings into the bins. Discus grip encouraged.
The kids loved this activity. Never underestimate the value of novel throwing targets!
8. Best New Agility & Strength Work Idea
For this activity I arranged kids in groups of four. Each group had one lane (10 metres) to work within.
a) Asked kids to place a cones anywhere within their lane over the 10m distance. The kids had to run fast in their lane over 10m without touching cones.
b) Asked kids to add a hoop each (i.e. 4 hoops) anywhere in their lane. Kids had to run fast in their lane over 10m without touching cones or hoops.
c) Asked kids to add a mini hurdle (i.e. 4 mini hurdles) anywhere in their lane. Kids had to run fast in their lane over 10m without touching cones, hoops or hurdles.
d) Challenged the kids to bear crawl (i.e. on hands and feet) through the obstacle course with touching the obstacles.
e) Challenged the kids to sideways bear crawl (i.e. on hands and feet) through obstacle course with touching the obstacles.
“Swat the Fly” was inspired by the following YouTube video by Motor Skill Learning Academy Switzerland.
Over To You!
Use or adapt one or more of these activities in your next session. I would love to hear how it goes. Let me know by leaving a rely/comment or by using the contact details below.
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Anchor or via email.