AGE GROUP GIRLS and BOYS 6 - 18
What is track and field?
Track and field is a
variety of different athletic competitions that take place on an
athletic track. Events can include individuals or teams, generally
amateurs, and can be both indoor and outdoor meets.
events include the high jump, long jump, and shot put. The
are races including sprints, and longer runs such as the 1000- and
2000-metre races. This is a great sport for boys or
girls who like to run, jump and throw. Introducing your child to
track at an early age can ensure a life long love for the sport.
other sports, track is a very flexible sport so kids who start later are
not missing out on crucial skill-building years because most of track is
what kids do naturally, which is running, jumping and throwing. The
age, maturity of the child and their ability to follow directions will
determine the events that are appropriate for them. For instance,
hurdles, long distance events and most field events are not recommended
for young children but they should enjoy the 100 meter dash or long
What are the governing organizations for track and field?
USA Track and Field
(USATF) is the national governing body for track and field, road
running, cross country running, racewalking, and mountain/ultra/trail
running in the United States.
Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) - is the world
governing body for track and field.
Amateur Athletic Union, AAU is one
of the largest, non-profit, volunteer sports organizations in the US
dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports
and physical fitness programs. The youngest participates are
8 and under
in AAU. The AAU
Junior Olympic Games are known as the largest national multi-sport event
for youth in the United States. It has become the showcase event of the
AAU Sports Program.
Youth membership in AAU
or USATF is not required to compete during regular season.
However, membership in USA Track & Field, is a required for an athlete to compete
in the State, Regional, National Junior Olympic meets or the State and
National Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championship meets. Athletes
can either compete as part of team or club or as individual or
The AAU holds
Junior Olympic sport games one time each year. For an athlete to be
eligible for this event, they must qualify by ranking in the top four in
a regional event. The AAU Junior Olympics participant count is usually
over 15,500 in twenty two different sporting events, including track and
The USATF, or
USA Track and Field, also also holds Junior Olympic games. The USATF
participant record is over 70,000 in track and field and cross country
Young track and
field athletes can participate in both AAU and USATF competitions. There
has been some debate over which organization is 'better'; however,
opinions differ and competition varies from year to year.
Age to start track and field...
Most high schools and
many middle schools have track and field teams that compete. Outside of
school youth track and field clubs are not as easy to locate as soccer
or baseball clubs. It
is however a
thriving activity nationwide and most communities have
available, so it is just a matter of being able to locate them.
Before joining a club,
consider having your child participate in kids’ fun runs. The emphasis
at these events is always on fun and participation as opposed to winning
relaxed track & field meets which have events for competitors of all
ages. It is a
great way to introduce your child to the world of youth track and
websites of local running clubs like
to find out if there are any all-comers meets in your area.
If your child
is serious about participating in youth track and field, it is a good
idea to join a club. This will give your child an opportunity to meet
others with similar interests, get coaching from experts and establish a
training program. A great place to start to find a credible club is
the USA Track & Field website at
Simply enter your zip code to generate a list of the USATF-registered
clubs in area.
Track and field
clubs offer skills training for children from as early as 6 years old to
the age of 18. Training is for all ability levels in long-distance
running, sprints, relays, hurdles, long jump, high jump, and javelin.
The season consists of practices, local youth track developmental events
and often culminates in the Junior Olympics. The national youth track
and field competitions start with children as young as 8. From the
age of 6 to around 12 years old you can expect fun games and activities
that will build knowledge and skills. Further development
continues through the teen age years with the introduction of special
Club programs are
usually comprised of 9 divisions. The athlete’s birth shall determine
the age division that he/she will compete in. Age is
determined by the athlete's age by December 31st. Proof of age is required to
participate in AAU or USATF sanctioned events. Athletes must provide a
copy of the birth certificate that the team must keep on file.
Generally, USATF competitions use 2-year age groups with the youngest 10
and under. AAU meets generally use 1-year age groups with the youngest 8
AAU Junior Olympics Age Groupings for
the 2008 Competition Year
8 & under
||15 & 16
||1992 - 1993
||17 & 18
||1990 - 1991
USATF Junior Olympics Age Groupings for the 2008 Competition Year
10 & under
11 & 12
13 & 14
15 & 16
17 & 18
What is the commitment level...
Registration for track
and field clubs is normally in April with meets held generally each
weekend through August. For high school students, ages 15 -18, club
season starts after the school track season ends (June to August). State
qualifying meets take place in June and regional qualifying meets take
place in July. AAU National Junior
Olympics takes place the first week of August for those who qualified.
Practices are usually
two to three times per week. A lot of these clubs serve as a feeder
programs for high school track and cross country.
What is the season for track and field?
There are two
seasons for track and field. The indoor season
The outdoor track and field season usually begins in the spring and
lasts through the summer.
long are track meets?
Track meets are very
long events which will last for about 4 - 6 hours. Therefore it is
important that you take the proper
track meet necessities along with you. Meets are held on
Saturday or Sunday. Some of the larger meets like regional and national
competitions are spread over two or more days. AAU & USATF sanctioned
meets (begin in June) are two day (Sat. & Sun.) meets and may require
travel out of state.
In all events, the top
three finishers in each event win medals: gold for first place, silver
for second place and bronze for third place. The first three across the
finish line in races will win the medals. In the high jump, the three
athletes who jump the highest over will win. The three athletes who
jump the longest distance, in the long jump, win medals. In the shot put,
the person who throws the ball the longest wins medals.