Water-Balloon Sprint-to-the-Front Drill
Water-Balloon Sprint-to-the-Front Drill

Track/XC/Games: Running: A Wet Version of the Sprint-to-the-Front Drill

Dick Moss, Editor, PE Update.com

Many teachers and coaches have used the Sprint-to-the-Front drill (sometimes called the Running Treadmill, Running Line or Indian Line drill) in class and practice. For those of you who haven't, it's fun, but there's a way to make it even more fun…and more wet!.

Traditional Sprint-to-the-Front Drill
Have your students run in single file at a moderate pace around the track or through a park. At regular intervals (you can blow a whistle), the student at the back of the line sprints to the front and assumes the lead, settling into the same moderate pace as the rest of the line. It's a great way to introduce fartlek (speed-change) workouts to your students.

However, there's a fun variation of the Sprint-to-the-Front drill that's great on hot days and will tax your runners' powers of concentration.

New & Improved Running Line Drill
What's different? Perform it using water balloons (regular balloons filled with water).

Give the line leader a water balloon and ask him to begin jogging. After a few strides, he gently tosses the balloon over his head to the student behind him. That student must catch the balloon, then toss it behind her. The balloon moves back through the line until it reaches the last runner, who sprints it back to the front and begins again.

Of course, some students have “hands of stone” and will suffer a wet balloon-burst in the face. And other balloons will meet their fate on the merciless track. When this
happens, be sure you have a replacement waiting the next time they jog past your position.


  • You can increase the action by using more than one balloon at a time. The extra watering that results makes it especially appropriate for very hot days.
  • Turn the drill into a relaxed, steady run instead of a fartlek by having the lead runner drop to the rear instead of having the rear runner sprint to the lead.   


1. Eric Anderson, Training Games: Coaching Runners Creatively, Tafnews Press, 1994.
2. Bob Swope, Youth Track & Field On-Track Event Drills, Strategies and Games Free Flow Handbook, Jacobob Press, 2011

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© 2011, Physical Education Update.com, www.peUpdate.com

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