Middle school is a great time to start track and field. Kids who get involved in sports at an early age are more likely to stay active for the rest of their lives. For those interested in a college scholarship opportunity, starting before high school can give them a head start.
Here are the main types of track and field activities middle school students can try:
The running events are a fantastic introduction to track and field because students can compete in it immediately without a lot of training, unlike other events like long jump and high jump. These aren’t easy events, but they are rewarding and a sure way to improve endurance. The 800m is a half-mile an all-out sprint, two laps around the track, with your team mates cheering you on.
The medium to long runs 400m (one lap) to 1600m (4 laps, 1 mile) are easy to practice on your own. Coaches provide strategy like how to conserve energy for the final stage of the race and help correct running form, but the rest is mostly about building up endurance. Practicing running at top speeds will help make students better in all other events and can help raise confidence off the track as well.
If you’re looking for a track and field event that will give your middle schooler a challenge and the opportunity to be on a team, try the 4x100m relay. The 4x100m relay is one of the most popular competitions at high school, college level, and in international events such as the Olympics.
In this type of race, four athletes compete as a relay team—each runner completes 100m, handing off a baton to the next runner. While it sounds simple, there is a lot of skill in a successful handoff between runners. The combination of teamwork for handoffs and extreme physical exertion makes this a great overall sport for young adults.
A long jump is a track and field event where athletes combine speed, strength, and agility to leap as far as possible from a launch point into sand (for a softer landing).
The long jump is an individual event and at the middle and high school levels is usually one of multiple events one athlete will participate in. In collegiate and higher levels, athletes will typically specialize in fewer events. In general it’s good for younger athletes to try various track and field activities to see what they like.
The great thing about the long jump is that it’s an overall test of athleticism. A competitor has to be fast, jump far, strategize to land correctly, and have the mental focus to bring everything together.
Similar to the long jump, the high jump takes skill, concentration, and precision. It requires a certain amount of arm strength, flexibility, and coordination.
The high jump can be done alone or as part of a team event with other athletes on your school’s team. The object of this event is to jump vertically to clear a bar which is raised higher with each successful jump. Points will are awarded based on height of the bar with successful attempts.
This event is great for learning a new and unusual technique in order to accomplish a goal. And like all other events, it’s a good way of learning that practice and correct form are two key elements to reaching your personal best in athletics.
Starting Young ForA Bright Future
Most schools offer track and field for middle schoolers, but if you’re looking for a specific event or are thinking about a future in college and possibly professional athletics, finding a school with a high quality track and field program can be a game changer. The quality of coaching at an early age, access to the right equipment, and the caliber of competitors are all things to consider in a track and field program. The most important aspect, however, is that your middle schooler is learning, having fun, and doing so in a safe environment.