What to expect at AAU and USATF Junior Olympic track meets




Before coming to a meet, check the information on event schedule, directions, and rules. It is important to come at least 1 hour early to allow timely check-in and proper warm-up. If the event you participate in is scheduled late in the meet, you do not have to come by the very beginning of the meet unless there is a time deadline for registration. The district or  area meets typically are within 1-2 hour drive and are easily fitted into a one-day trip. The Regional or National meets can be as far as 4-5 hours away and start early, so for these you might consider driving the evening before and staying in the area overnight. This option is more time consuming and expensive, but really helps athletes to be fresh on the meet day and makes the whole experience more rewarding.


Registration / Check-in


Registration for the first qualifying meet in USATF or AAU series is typically done online. Contact your Club Coach to find out if the entried are submitted collectively by a club official. When coming to the meet, bring athlete's AAU or USATF card and a copy of athlete’s birth certificate in case those documents are required at check-in. Beware of the event schedule and keep track of your events coming up. While being on track, listen to announcements and calls for events. As the event is called, the athlete must report to the check-in area. At some of meets, each athlete is provided with the bib number when checking in. Additionally, when called for an event to the clerking area, athletes are given hip numbers, which need to be attached to shorts on both hips and be visible to judges. At many meets it is typical to proceed from younger to older age groups within a particular event. If you are scheduled to compete in a field event and track event at the same time, you should first check-in with the head official of your field in order for you to be able to compete in that field event when you have completed your track event.


Registration for the next upper-level meet has sometimes to be done at the preceding qualifying meet. So check with the registration deck before leaving since entries mailed-in later may not be accepted. 


Being prepared


Large age-group track meets can move slowly due to the number of events and the large number of participants. Athletes and parents should expect to spend the good part of the day at the meet, sometimes up to 3-6 hours. Due to that reason we strongly recommend you come prepared.
Meets are held in any weather conditions, and some venues do not have covered seating, so think of protection against rain or sun.


The list of necessities includes, but is not limited to:

- water, drinks

- cooler with ice

- lunches, snacks

- canopy tent

- chairs, seat pads, blankets

- umbrellas

- sunglasses

- sunscreen

- hats

- extra clothes


Do not forget your running shoes and uniforms. Athletes are allowed to wear spikes at the AAU and USATF meets, but spikes are not allowed at the Hershey meets. We always encourage to wear Club uniform at the races, although it is not mandatory for individual competitors. Relay teams must wear Club uniforms.

Many meets have concession stands with food, drinks, apparel, so bringing some cash for purchases may be a good idea. Depending on the venue, spectators may be charged admission at the state and regional meets.




Transportation to the meets is responsibility of parents. Parents should supervise their children during the meet unless special arrangements are made. Some coaches of the Club might be present at the meets and can be available to help with meet logistics.

Parents are usually not allowed in the mid-field or in the athlete clerking area. If you believe your child needs assistance, check with a meet official. Usually parents and athletes who are not competing at the moment stay at the bleachers or designated spectator areas around the track. Parents are always welcome to cheer for their athletes, but make sure not to interfere with events in progress.


Traveling as a Club, we often find a spot and set up a tent near the track to stay together. This especially helps if kids become nervous or intimidated of the unfamiliar setting.


Safety and logistics

When crossing the track, always look in both directions. Never cross the track when any race is in progress. Avoid any area between finish line and start line, as officials and timers need clear view of the starter located near the start of each race. Never walk through the javelin, discus or shot put area when competition is in progress. This is dangerous!  Always stay at least 10 feet back from the edge of the track so you and our club can never be accused of affecting the outcome of a race.

Be quiet when you are at starting line; follow the instructions given by the head starter.

If leaving a field event to participate in a track event, first inform (check-out with) the head official of your field event, or they have the right to disqualify you from your field event.

Awards and advancement


Each athlete is allowed to compete in total 4 events, which need to be chosen at the first qualifying meet. At the following meets, you will be allowed to compete only in the events you qualified for. Each meet typically advances 3-6 top athletes in each age group in each event to the next-level meet. Check the meet rules for details. If you qualified for the next meet and plan on attending, do not forget to register before leaving.

Depending on a particular meet, top three to eight competitors in each event will receive the Junior Olympic awards (ribbons or medals). The awards can be received right after the competition once the results become official.




Athletes and parents should know and understand the rules of track and field. Officials and event management personnel are there to help make this a positive and rewarding experience for everyone. Show respect for the officials and their decisions. Showing respect for opponents and recognize and appreciate the varying skill levels of all participating athletes.


We should always remember that the participants in youth athletics are only "kids." Treat them accordingly. Show a positive manner when cheering. Parents should be aware of the amount of pressure their children can handle at competition and provide all possible support if they face a challenge. Our goal is to make it a positive experience for all.