Running Training for 8, 9 and 10 Year Olds
I am a coach for a youth baseball team of 8, 9 and 10 year olds. What types of running drills or excercises can I implement for this age group, so they could become faster and more agile runners.
Answer by Dominique:
Thanks for your question about running training for baseball players.
When giving advice about running exercises for kids I can't stress enough how careful you need to be with them.
At that age the joy of the game and learning to play together like a team should be the dominant focus, in my opinion.
So, whatever you do in terms of specific running drills, I would keep it to a very limited part of the total time spent training.
When thinking about specific running exercises or drills for baseball you need to consider what it is they need to be good at. That would be a combination of running short sprints (from base to base), running around sharp corners and running fast while looking at the game and where the ball is at.
All of that can be trained in some way, e.g. you could have a setting with the kids pretending to hit the ball, then take off to first base and depending on a hand signal you give them the last minute they need to stop or continue on to second base, forcing them to keep eye contact with you while they run.
You could do 20/30 metre sprints with a 90 degree angle in between, etc. The only thing stopping you is your imagination I guess.
I would also keep in mind that in games it is often not the fast runners, but those who take off at the right time that get to base in time.
And that is best learned via deeper understanding of the game and of game situations. With fielders it is the same story. When they are able to throw the ball accurately and quickly to eachother then they will be so much faster than a team that has got the better sprinters but throws less accurately.
So again, if you want to, add some speed training to your baseball training, but make sure it is only a part of the overall training plan.
And just teach them to hit home runs, then they do not need to be fast... :)