How to Teach Kids to Skip

I’ve been seeing a lot of kiddos lately who have leg injuries.

Once we’ve gone through lower level rehab activities, it’s time to start our jumping program. Need to expose these young ones to some explosive activity after all.

Typically, I start most jump programs skipping. The reason why I start here is because the jump itself is not very high, is relatively low impact, and is a low risk exposure to the stretch shortening cycle.

The problem I’ve noticed with most kids nowadays (#getoffmyporch) is that no one learned how to skip. Like, at all. It’s like they’ve skipped skipping or something.

Below is the typical problem solving sequence I see kiddos go through when I ask them to skip:

  1. Look at left and right hand
  2. look at left and right leg
  3. Look up and to the side thinking “how am I going to put this together?”
  4. Try to move one arm forward, and shake their head no
  5. All of a sudden, try to go for the skip and do the same side Phil Collins’ “I Can’t Dance” skip

For those of us who are visual, it looks like this:

I am deeply saddened at the lack of movement competency our kids have. Our very own CDC tells us that most kids should be able to skip by the age of 5, yet The unskippable kids I work with range from 11 to 16 years old. Can’t skip. What the heck happened?

This fundamental movement is essential for our kids to master to both encourage safe landing mechanics and enhance athleticism and coordination.

Yet, where does one start? How do I teach my Phill Collins’ wannabe to skip?

Here’s a way that I’ve found successful.

Alternate Arms and Legs – Step one

When first teaching skipping, coordinating opposite arm/leg action is probably the most challenging task.

Coaching the arm action, as Derek Hansen taught me, is by far the simplest way to cue this movement. Reaching is simpler to conceptualize than leg actions, and many times fixing the arms will solve most problems.

When cueing the arm action, the arms ought to be forward and out. These mechanics are called frontside mechanics, and encourage forward progression within the skip. If the arms migrate too far backward (backside mechanics), then extension will be increased throughout the body, creating a breaking action that limits power.

The way I progress this activity is by working opposite arm and leg on once side, then both sides, then adding a heel raise.

Make sure to double your efforts on reaching outward, otherwise the kiddos will just do “bicep curls”, and won’t aid the forward progression we so desire.

Bicep reach = terrible for being athletic, but awesome for impressing the ladies.

You’ll also want to make sure to cue the swing phase ankle into dorsiflexion. This action will be important to help create the bounce into plantar flexion necessary for the skip.

Olympics 20never

Forward Progression – Step 2

Once the individual is able to coordinate opposite arm and leg, we want to attempt to move forward. Basically, take the in place progression used above, and move forward. We are going with a slow march to start. Focusing on the in place mechanics, then slowly migrating forward.

Once the march is mastered, we can add a heel raise to the mix, getting ever so close to the full on skip, yet ever so far.

Go for It – Step 3

Your kiddo is as ready as he or she will ever be. Once the heel raise is mastered, it’s time to get a little bounce. Encourage a mini jump, while landing on the same leg.

This can first be done in place, then progress to a full blown skip, or as I like to do it, build up into a skip with the progressions you used above.

Add some sauce to it – Step 4

Want to make things sexy? Skip progressions can be very useful for creating power in multiple direction.

If you want to increase vertical power, then you probably want to skip as high as possible.

Or maybe you want them horizontal power gainzzz. In this case, skipping for distance is absolute money:

Your kiddos will be so dang powerful if you can get them to this level.

Sum Up

The key to teaching someone to skip is all in the buildup. We are basically taking the skip, slowing it down until technique is mastered, then adding intensity until your kiddo skips.

To summarize:

  • Coordinate opposite arm and leg action
  • Start in place and work to forward progression
  • Go with no heel raise, followed by a heel raise, then add the skip
  • Add height or distance to increase intensity.

How do you teach your kiddos to skip? Any useful drills? Comment below and let the fam know.

If you want to make you or your clients more athletic, you may want to check out the following posts…

on acceleration

on agility or this debrief on agility

on sprinting