AAU track and field events offer a wonderful opportunity for young athletes to compete against other youths their age.
What is the AAU?
The AAU stands for the Amateur Athletic Union. First established in 1888, the AAU is a national, non-profit organization that supports young athletes. Their goals are to promote good sportsmanship and citizenship while offering a sports program that allows young athletes to develop their potential and compete in their chosen sports, which is reflected in their motto: "Sports for All, Forever." There are several different programs and multiple sports recognized within the AAU in 57 different districts, with the national headquarters located in Orlando Florida.
About AAU Track and Field
The AAU has both indoor and outdoor track and field events. Outdoor events are divided into regional, district, and national levels. Indoor track and field events are divided into national and district meets. Athletes compete against others of their gender in their age group. Age groups are divided in nine levels, with Primary the youngest at eight years and under, and Young Men/Women the eldest at seventeen and eighteen years of age:
- Sub Bantam
- Sub Midget
- Sub Youth
- Young Men/Women
Each athlete must be a registered AAU member or in an approved AAU club member in order to compete. Athletes can either compete as part of team or club or as individual or 'unattached' status. Registration at events requires an AAU membership card or card number. Registration costs a small fee and can be purchased for 1, 2, or 3 years. Easy online registration is available at the AAU Athletics Membership Page. Once registered, you can also print or reprint off your card if needed.
The AAU Junior Olympics are
The Amateur Athletic Union track and field events include:
- High Jump
- Long Jump
- Pole Vault
- Running events ranging from 100 meter dash to 1500 meter run
For indoor track and field, combined events include a triathlon consisting of shotput, high jump, and 200 meter dash for the younger athletes, and a pentathlon consisting of 55 meter hurdles, shotput, high and long jump, and 800 or 1000 meter run for upper-age participants. Combined outdoor track and field events include a triathlon, pentathlon, decathlon, and heptathlon consisting of various events designed for each age group.
The AAU holds Junior Olympic sports games once per year. In order to be eligible to participate in the AAU Junior Olympics track and field events, an athlete must be one of the top four finishers in a regional event. The USATF, or USA Track and Field, is the national governing organization for specifically for track and field and cross country events. They hold Junior Olympic games specifically for these sports.
The USATF holds larger participant records for their Junior Olympics, with over 70,000 participants in track and field and cross country events. The last AAU Junior Olympics participant count was at over 15,500 in twenty two different sporting events, including track and field.
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. There have been several instances when AAU competitions have been scheduled fro the same dates/times as USATF events - in this case, the athlete must choose to run only for one organization.
Athletes may be disqualified for not participating in the event correctly, competing in the wrong age group, and other infractions. Athletes and their families are responsible for their own traveling costs to all events.
For More Information
For more information on the AAU track and field program, the USATF track and field programs, and the Junior Olympics programs, visit the following pages: