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SPEED IMPROVEMENT IN CHILDREN AGED 6-9 YEARS THROUGH

ATHLETICS-SPECIFIC MEANS

Ameliorarea vitezei la copiii de 6-9 ani prin mijloace specifice atletismului

Camelia BRANEȚ
National University of Physical Education and Sports, 140 C-tin Noica Street, 060057, Bucharest, Romania
* Corresponding author: kmeliaciobanu@yahoo.com

Rezumat. Asistăm în prezent la un fenomen ce implică scăderea vârstei medii a campionilor olimpici și mondiali, dar și la
o nouă tendință a debutului sportiv la o vârstă timpurie, deoarece realizarea performanței mondiale presupune cel puțin 8 ani
de antrenament. Toate aceste argumente justifică necesitatea antrenamentului timpuriu în atletism, începând cu vârsta de 6-7
ani, ceea ce se fundamentează pe o strategie coerentă, menită să valorizeze vârsta “de aur” a învățării prin combinarea
armonioasă a celor 3 M (metode, mijloace, materiale). Pornind de la ideea că plăcerea înlătură plictiseala și sporește
eficiența activității, am creat un program de antrenament bazat pe mijloace din atletism, pentru a studia impactul acestuia
asupra vitezei. Studiul s-a desfășurat pe parcursul unui an școlar, pe o perioadă de 10 luni (copiii au participat la 2 lecții pe
săptămână, cu o durată de 90 de minute), aplicându-se o testare inițială, o testare intermediară după 5 luni de la începerea
programului atletic și o testare finală la sfârșitul anului școlar. Ca urmare a procesării statistice, am remarcat o ameliorare a
vitezei la grupul experimental, în comparație cu grupul de control.

Cuvinte-cheie: viteză, antrenament timpuriu, mijloace din atletism

Abstract. We are being the witnesses of a phenomenon involving the decrease of the average age of Olympic and World
champions, and of the new trend of sports debut at an early age, because achieving world performance requires at least 8
years of training. All these arguments justify the necessity of early training in athletics, starting with the age of 6-7, which is
substantiated on a coherent strategy meant to valorise the “golden” age of learning through the harmonious mix of the 3 M
(methods, means, materials). Based on the idea that pleasure removes boredom and increases efficiency of the activity, we
have designed a training programme with means from athletics, in order to study its impact on speed. The study was conducted
over a school year, for a period of 10 months (the children took part in 2 lessons per week, with a length of 90 minutes). It
started with an initial testing and was followed by an intermediate testing after 5 months of applying the athletic programme
and a final testing at the end of the school year. After the statistical processing, we noticed an improvement of speed in the
experimental group, as compared to the control group.

Keywords: speed, early training, athletic means

Introduction
We are being the witnesses of a phenomenon involving the decrease of the average age of Olympic and World
champions, and of the new trend of sports debut at an early age, because achieving world performance requires at
least 8 years of training.
In athletics, the selection at national level used to be made among children aged 10 to 12 years, who were
quickly integrated into the training process due to the partial use of a playful way of training, the coach being also
influenced in his decision-making by the contests included in the competition calendar; the early beginning of
selection and training around the age of 6 frees the teacher from the pressure related to competition, and the
playful approach may be exclusively used in multilateral preparation, which entails increased enthusiasm in
children. Thus, the pleasure experienced by them makes athletics become a long-term habit. It is well known that
pleasure removes boredom and increases efficiency or performance by merely amplifying the emulation;
whenever the children are experiencing pleasure, they do not feel like having to observe certain rules or standards
imposed to them.
In the first school stage, the largest increase in the frequency and speed of movement is registered by Kohler
(1977), Koinzer (1978), Dieckmann and Letzelter (1987), Lehmann (1993) (quoted by Weineck, 1992). At this age
segment, the reaction speed and the latency time conditioning it significantly improve, as the latter one reduces
from 0.50 to 0.60s in children aged 6 to 7 years and from 0.25 to 0.40s in children aged 10 years, according to
Markosian and Wasiutina (quoted by Weineck, 1992).
We know that speed is strongly determined by the genetic heritage, which means that its training potential is
reduced, as it can be increased by training only in a percentage of around 20%, according to Filin (quoted by Bota,
2000). Thus, if the improvement does not occur at the time favourable to the various manifestations of speed, this
one hardly improves later on if ever, which leads to the conclusion that it is highly important that the early training
of children in athletics should start at the age of 6. Velocity training in children aged between 6 and 16 years is
facilitated by the mobility of fundamental processes and the plasticity of brain’s cortical surface, but also by the
need for movement and the increased curiosity specific to this age, which may be a real support for the motor skill
learning.
According to Bompa (2010), speed development depends on factors such as: heredity, reaction time, capacity
to overcome an external resistance, technique, power of will, concentration and muscle elasticity.
All these arguments justify the necessity of early training in athletics starting with the age of 6-7, which is
substantiated on a coherent strategy meant to valorise the “golden” age of learning through the harmonious mix of
the 3 M (methods, means, materials). The study was conducted over a school year, for a period of 10 months (the
children took part in 2 lessons per week, with a length of 90 minutes). It started with an initial testing and was
followed by an intermediate testing after 5 months of applying the athletic programme and a final testing at the
end of the school year.
The athletic physical preparation programme for the experiment group has been designed starting from the idea
that the play represents the best modality to discover athletics at this age and that the variety of means used in the
training sessions corresponds to the particularities of this age segment. Thus, the athletic programme is based on
relay races, applicative routes, movement games, the circuit method, as well as on means with an emulative and
playful character.
The control group 1 participates in the athletic preparation lessons on the “Lia Manoliu” stadium, while the
control group 2 participates only in the physical education lessons.

Purpose of the study


Based on the idea that pleasure removes boredom and increases efficiency of the activity, we have designed a
training programme with means from athletics, in order to study its impact on speed.

Hypothesis
The use of applicative routes and relay races based on athletic means ensures a significant improvement of
speed, as a basic physical quality, in children aged between 6 and 9 years.

Subjects and methods


Subjects
The experiment was conducted at the Middle School no. 190 of Bucharest and aimed to test the children from
classes with a sports programme - athletics, who took part in 2 lessons per week, with a length of 90 minutes. 30
children aged 6 to 9 years were tested (the experimental group) and also another group of 20 children (the control
group 1) who practiced athletics on the “Lia Manoliu” stadium, as well as a group of 30 children (the control
group 2) who participated in the physical education lessons at the Middle School no. 190.
Initial testing took place between 17 and 23 September 2012, and final testing was applied at the end of the
school year.
Materials and methods
This is an ascertaining-type experiment and the physical test applied to check the hypothesis was the 50m
sprint. The mathematical and statistical indicators used were: indicators of central tendency - arithmetic mean,
indicators of dispersion - standard deviation, coefficient of variability, t-test and Anova test.

Findings and results

At the final testing, the average results decreased by 0.849 sec., from 9.431 sec. at the initial testing to 8.582
sec. at the final one. Data are homogeneously dispersed around the average and the coefficients of variation are
5.59% at the initial testing and 3.11% at the final testing. The amplitude decreased by 0.91 sec. The confidence
interval for the average difference is (-0.981, -0.717). The effect size (2.260) indicates a very large difference
between the arithmetic means of the two testing moments. The bilateral dependent t-test shows that the average
difference has reached the hypothesis according to which the average difference between the results of the two
groups is statistically significant. Graphical representation supports these assertions.

sec 10.5

10.0

9.5 9.431

9.0 -0.849

8.5 8.582

8.0

Initial T est Final Test


.

Graph 1. Experimental group - athletics - 50m sprint: initial testing and final testing

The average results recorded at the final testing decreased by 0.211, from 9.107 sec. at the initial testing to
8.896 sec. at the final one. Data are homogeneously dispersed around the average and the coefficients of variation
are 6.34% at the initial testing and 5.13% at the final testing. The amplitude decreased by 0.15 sec. The confidence
interval for the average difference is (-0.342, -0.080). The effect size (0.705) indicates a large to very large
difference between the arithmetic means at the two tests. The bilateral dependent t-test shows that the average
difference is statistically significant: p = 0.005< 0.05. We reject the null hypothesis and accept the research
hypothesis stating that the average difference between the two test results is statistically significant. Graphical
representation supports the assertions.
sec 10.5

10.0

9.5
9.107
9.0 -0.211
8.896

8.5

8.0
Initial Test Final Test

Graph 2. Control group - athletics - 50 m sprint: initial testing and final testing

In the control group 2 - with two lessons of physical education and sports, at the final testing, the average
results decreased by 0.464 sec., from 10.844 sec. at the initial testing to 10.380 sec. at the final one. Data are
homogeneously dispersed around the average and the coefficients of variation are 11.27% at the initial testing and
10.68% at the final testing. The amplitude decreased by 0.24 sec. The confidence interval for the average
difference is (-0.611, -0.316). The effect size (1.126) indicates a very large difference between the arithmetic
means of the two testing moments. The bilateral dependent t-test shows that the average difference has reached the
hypothesis according to which the average difference between the results of the two groups is statistically
significant.
8.5

8.0
Initial Test Final Test

Table 1. Sample statistics - 50m sprint

95% Confidence
Std. Interval for Mean Coefficient
Groups Mean Median Minimum Maximum
Deviation of Variation
Lower Upper
bound bound
Experiment 8.582 8.650 0.267 8.488 8.676 7.950 9.000 3.1%
Control 1 8.896 8.940 0.456 8.696 9.095 8.030 9.980 5.1%
Control 2 10.380 10.640 1.108 9.984 10.777 8.000 12.210 10.7%

Table 2. Test of Homogeneity of Variances

Levene’s Statistic df1 df2 P (Sig.)


31.851 2 78 0.000

Table 3. ANOVA - Single factor

Sum of Mean Effect


Source of Variation Df F P (Sig.)
Squares Square Size
Between Groups 54.218 2 27.109 50.696 0.000 1.140
Within 41.709 78 0.535      
Total 95.927 80        

Table 4. Robust Tests of Equality of Means

Statistic df1 df2 P (Sig.)


Brown-Forsythe
55.665 2 43.163 0.000

Table 5. Multiple comparisons

95% Confidence
Final Tests Difference
Interval
between Std.
Test P (Sig.)
Means Error
Lower Upper
I II (I-II)
Bound Bound
Control 1* -0.314 0.113 0.025 -0.593 -0.034
Experiment
Control 2* -1.798 0.208 0.000 -2.309 -1.288
Experiment* 0.314 0.113 0.025 0.034 0.593
Games-Howell Control 1
Control 2* -1.484 0.227 0.000 -2.036 -0.934
Experiment* 1.798 0.208 0.000 1.288 2.309
Control 2
Control 1* 1.485 0.227 0.000 0.934 2.036

Control 1 - Athletics
Control 2 - Groups with two lessons of physical education and sports
* Statistically significant
sec 12

11
10.380

10
1.484

9 8.896
0.314
8.582
8

EXPERIMENT CONTROL 1 CONTROL 2

Graph 3. Results obtained by the representatives of the three groups at the 50m-sprint final tests

The results obtained by the representatives of the three groups at the 50m-sprint final tests show no equal
dispersions according to Levene’s test, p< 0.0001< 0.05. In this context, Brown-Forsythe test and also ANOVA
test, recording p< 0.0001< 0.05, demonstrate that there is at least a couple of groups whose results are significantly
different from the statistical point of view.
According to Games-Howell post hoc test on multiple comparisons for unequal variances, there are significant
differences between the results of the Control 1 experimental group, Control 2 experimental group and Control 1 -
Control 2 experimental groups, the “p” significance threshold associated with each pair being smaller than 0.05.
We reject therefore the null hypothesis and accept the research hypothesis according to which there are
statistically significant differences between the results recorded by the three groups, which is shown in the graph
above.

Conclusions
Following the statistical processing, we noticed an improvement of speed in the experimental group, as
compared to the control groups. Thus, the preparation programme proposed by us has proved to be more efficient
in improving speed at this age, as compared to other work programmes, a fact which is statistically confirmed. So,
the use of applicative routes and relay races leads to speed improvement in children aged 6 to 9 years.

References
Bompa, T. O. (2010). Periodizarea: teoria și metodologia antrenamentului. Curtea de Argeș: Tana, p. 390.
Bota, C. (2000). Ergofiziologie. Bucureşti: Globus.
Weineck, J. (1992). Manuel d’entraînement sportif. Paris: Vigot, pp. 346-347.