Games that make running fun for kids

Technology is slowly taking over our kids minds and outdoor activities seem less and less interesting for children these days. Running is one activity that we can teach our kids to help them stay active and healthy but it’s not always easy because of the short attention spans that hovers at a paltry eight seconds So how do we get our kids in to running and make it fun at the same time. Well here are a few games to help your kids stay active this holiday. 

Sharks & Minnows

This popular swimming game is easily adapted for young runners. Mark off a large rectangular area with clear boundaries (could be half a soccer field) and start with one runner as “it.” That runner stands in the middle of the field and acts as the shark while the other runners play the minnows and line up on the far end of the play area or field. When the shark calls “Come minnows, come!” the minnows sprint across the field to try and reach the opposite boundary line without getting tagged by the shark. If the shark tags a minnow, they become an additional shark and help try to tag the minnows on the next round of play. The last minnow to be tagged by a shark is the winner.

Solve the Puzzle

This game works well when you want kids to get in a longer run, but need to keep them close to a home base. The coach takes a puzzle (a large floor puzzle works best for younger kids, or a puzzle with under 40 pieces) and separates the pieces into several envelopes, placing the envelopes various distances away from home base.  

On the “go” command, the team runs together to find and retrieve the first envelope, then brings it back to home base and heads back out to retrieve another envelope, returning to base each time an envelope is found. Once all the envelopes have been retrieved, the kids open them and work together to complete the puzzle.

Value: The kids get in a longer run through all of the back-and-forth with the added bonus of working together as a team to put the puzzle together. The first time the game is played, the coach can time the team and then repeat the game later in the season with the goal of trying to beat the original time.  

1-2-3-4 Run the Field

Perfect for a speed day, this game utilizes a football or soccer field to help runners push the pace. After the runners warm up around the field, the coach can lead them in some stretches to prepare for a hard speed day. The team then begins by jogging three consecutive sides of the field and sprinting the fourth side. Then they jog two consecutive sides and sprint two sides, jog one side and sprint three sides, then finally sprint all four sides. Depending on the age and ability levels of the kids (as well as the desired amount of speed work), you can repeat this exercise as needed.  

Value: A great way to add in some speed work while staying mentally engaged as the runners must remember how many sides they must sprint/jog on each lap. Switching gears from sprint to jog helps them tap into their various running “gears” and develops the fast-twitch muscles.     

Water Balloon Relay

Kids will do just about anything if it involves water balloons. One of my favorite relays involves dividing the kids into teams and using a big, sloshy water balloon as the baton. If the balloon is dropped and pops, the runner can replace it by running to a central bucket filled with backup balloons and then re-entering the race at the same spot they dropped the balloon. The winning team gets a water balloon for each runner and 30 seconds to try to soak the losing team(s). 

Value: Water balloon relays are a fun, easier workout that can be used as a reward at the end of practice after a tough day, or during any practice to help break up the monotony of distance running. Just beware–coaches may want to reserve a few extra water balloons on hand for payback in case the kids decide that soaking the coach with water balloons is an opportunity too good to pass up.

With these fun running games to keep your kids away from TV your children can stay healthy, fit and active these holidays.

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