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Youth USATF age divisions

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  • Youth USATF age divisions

    I'm curious why local running associations are so strict about age divisions at the youth level. I attend many meets and the races are so predictable and somewhat boring. I love the sport and would like to see open age divisions where athletes are assigned heats based on past performance. I think it would create more exciting events and overall improved performance. Medals are fun to receive, but athletes can get so much more out of the meet than this. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Youth USATF age divisions

    Many of these athletes already train with younger and older age-group teammates. No harm in their current stages, as high school athletics will give them the competition you mention they currently lack.

    Insofar as having predictable racing... are you mentioning events at local meets? Meets like regionals give great comp within age groups, and the intensity level picks up with stronger same-age competition against other like athletes.

    My sister was a "predictable" racer for a San Jose, CA-based club some years ago. She won most of her meets. Regionals and nationals were another story, as she had to work hard for her medals and national race walk title.

    I think athletes who win big in their age groups gain good self-confidence heading into bigger meets. When they meet a person with an equal or faster seed-time, then it opens the door for both athletes to dig deeper and try hard (for once).

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    • #3
      Re: Youth USATF age divisions

      Yes, I am refering to local events. Our team has several youth (8th grade) athletes who are beating most of the usatf high schoolers in the state timewise. I agree that it builds self-confidence, but its never a close race and young runners tend to float and hold back.

      Youth runners seem to be at a critical point in development where some significant performance increase.

      I agree that national events provide a better matchup, but its just one meet. The local meets are where the lessons are learned and athletes created. We are starting to venture out of the state more to find bigger meets. Maybe that's the answer. Although its a costly one.

      Running up in age 'may be' a solution, but this appears to create issues among the coaches and race directors.

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      • #4
        Re: Youth USATF age divisions

        What's the rush? 8th grade? Be patient, let them enjoy winning while they can. Keep it light and fun. There will be plenty of intense competition in h.s. and beyond (if they aren't burned from youth competition).

        Who cares how good an 8th grader is? Development is just beginning. What is important is that they enjoy themselves, improve throughout adolecense, have minimal injury, and set themselves up to be at their best when they mature (late 20s/early 30s). Intense youth competition jeopardizes long-term development. IMO

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