Track and field is one of the oldest of sports known to man. Organized track and field competitions date back to the Greeks and the original Olympic games. Every four years the sport is thrust into the spotlight with the modern summer Olympic Games. Kids can gain several benefits by taking part in track and field events, the most notable being the effects of strength training and aerobic exercise. There are a few youth track and field programs offered for a variety of ages and skill levels here in Des Moines.
Track and Field is an accommodating sport to newcomers of all ages. Kids who get a later start are not missing out on crucial skill-building years as they might in other sports. A latecomer to some sports have a very difficult time of catching up on sport-specific skills, whereas much of track & field is doing what kids do every day anyway, which is running, jumping and throwing. In addition, kids don’t have to sit on the sidelines in track. With so many events, there’s typically a spot for kids to participate. And lastly, athletic skills kids learn in track and field are easily transferred to other sports.
Because track & field programs are not as common as other sport programs, it may not be easy to find an organized club or program near you. Track and field also showcases individual performance, causing potentially stressful moments for kids who are not mentally prepared to handle the stress of a poor performance.
While there is no minimum age at which a child can participate in track and field, he or she should be old enough to understand the basic rules of competition, such as staying in their own lane or not going beyond the take-off board in the long jump. Young kids will be limited in the number of events that are appropriate for them. Hurdles, long distance events, and most of the field events would not be recommended for a small child. But a child of almost any age might enjoy the 100 meter dash or the long jump.
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.
Beginners typically have an organized practice once a week, with a greater commitment as your child gets older and becomes more competitive. Track meets usually are held on Saturdays or Sundays and are four to six hours in length. The number of events and meets your child will participate in will be up to you and your coaches.
- Practice Shoes
- Event Shoes and Spikes (if needed)
- Practice Clothes
- Uniform (may or may not be required)
- Water Bottle
- Club Membership: Varies depending on the club.
- Track Meet Entrance Fees: $10+
- Travel Expenses: $100-$500 average per event
- Running Shoes: $25+
- Event Shoes: $30+
- Practice Clothes: $20+
- Uniform: $20+
- Water Bottle: $5+
Fees vary according to what is provided by the organizing entity. Please keep in mind some fees are one time, others are recurring. All costs are approximate. As with any activity, as your child progresses, only your family can choose what you will spend in relation to your child’s specific goals within the sport whether competitively or recreationally.
There are a few track and field clubs in the Des Moines metro area. Schools/Community Education and city parks and recreation departments also offer track and field opportunities for youth. Kids can also compete individually in youth track meets or fun runs. They are a great way for a child to find out if they enjoy competing in the sport before deciding whether to make a commitment to join a club.
Ankeny Track & Field Club – Ankeny
Capital Striders Running Club – Des Moines
Central Iowa Excalibur Track & Field Club – Des Moines
Des Moines Area Youth Track Club – Des Moines
DCG Track Club – Dallas Center and Grimes
Iowa Core Elite Track Club – Des Moines
Johnston Running Club – Johnston
Team J-Hawk Youth Track & Field – Urbandale
Westside Track Club – West Des Moines
What do you think, is track and field a fit for your kid?