Why (and how) to get your kids into running this year

Andrew Pagé, Ottawa Lions, apage@ottawalions.com.

There are lots of reasons for kids to get involved in track and field. It’s a great way to stay active, develop fitness, and build confidence at a young age. But did you know it’s also one of the best ways for kids to improve at all other sports?

Every year we hear from parents who tell us that since taking one of our programs their child is stronger on his or her skates, faster on the soccer pitch, throwing harder and with more accuracy but most importantly, enjoying their favorite sport more.

Getting coaching in track and field at a young age makes a big difference because the fundamentals of running, jumping and throwing are the building blocks for so many other sports. So, not only is track and field amazing as a sport in and of itself, but it’s also a great way for kids to prepare for hockey, soccer, (or any other sporting) season.

How can kids try track and field in Ottawa?

One of the easiest ways for kids to get introduced to track and field is to take one of the 8-week Youth Programs we offer at the Ottawa Lions. Our Youth Programs are divided into two age groups: ages 6-9 and 10-12. And our main goal at those ages is just getting the kids out and having fun.

Through fun games we teach the fundamentals of good running jumping and throwing mechanics. After an 8-week session, most kids see a noticeable improvement in these fundamentals and, as a result, their sport of choice. The bonus is that lots of them also fall in love with track and field.

Youth Programs run year round and can be started at almost any time. Our next session starts February 23rd, 2015.

What if your child is older than 12?

Our Junior Development Program is designed for youth from 12-14 and its main focus is “learning to train”. These programs develop efficient movement patterns and speed at an early age. We also start to look at whether runners are suited to shorter or longer distances and divide them into these training groups (Power/ Speed or Middle Distance) in order to train accordingly.

Our Junior Competitive Program is for youth from 14-17. This program has two categories, those with experience in track and field and those that may be newer to the sport. For our more experienced athletes, these programs are about “learning to compete” and athletes are divided in smaller more specialized groups.

To learn more about all of the programs at the Ottawa Lions, visit http://ottawalions.com/programs/ or contact Andrew Page at apage@ottawalions.com.

About the Ottawa Lions

The Ottawa Lions is Canada’s largest and most successful track and field club. A professionally managed non-profit organization with a large volunteer coaching staff, the Lions offers programs for runners of every age and aspiration and has members ranging in age from 6 to 80. In 2014, Lions athletes set two new Canadian records, four provincial records, and won a Commonwealth Games gold medal.