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Junior Sport Guidelines for Athletics

The following resources have been produced to assist coaches, parents, athletes, teachers, and administrators in providing appropriate athletics experiences for children across a range of settings and ages.

“The FIT Model demonstrates an alignment to the Australian Physical Literacy Framework and a commitment by Athletics Australia to the holistic development of children across the four domains of physical literacy. Sport Australia looks forward to continuing to work with Athletics Australia to ensure Australian children have the potential to value movement, physical activity and sport, whilst developing and maintaining positive physical activity behaviours for life”.

Andrew Larratt | General Manager of Sport Business | Sport Australia

Position Statement for Children Participating in Athletics

The Position Statement outlines Athletics Australia’s position in relation to participation of children in athletics in Australia. As a foundation sport, athletics is uniquely positioned to develop fundamental movement skills and make a vital contribution to the development of physical literacy in all children. Positive sport and physical activity experiences delivered to children in their formative years act as a significant determinant of physical activity levels and overall health in adulthood. It is therefore imperative that athletics provides a positive first sport and physical activity experience for Australian children. The Position Statement is aimed at ensuring athletics products and activities are best practice, align with holistic child development principles, and provide a clear framework for the delivery of athletics within schools and the broader community. The six areas considered important for the experience for children in athletics in Australia are:

  1. Holistic child development, safety, health and wellness
  2. Coaching and the role of the coach
  3. The role of parents and guardians
  4. Age appropriate activities and competitions
  5. Athletics in schools and the role of the teacher
  6. Meeting the changing needs of families and society

In essence, children’s participation in athletics should focus on their holistic development; be conducted in such a way that it is safe, fun, and inclusive; consist of age and developmentally appropriate activities; and be delivered in a way that reflects the evolving needs of participants and society more broadly. The Position Statement for Children Participating in Athletics explores these concepts in more detail.

Download Position Statement

The FIT Model - Training and Competition Guidelines for Children and Adolescents

To assist the athletics community with understanding different stages of junior athlete development (4 -19 years), and the appropriate training and competition loads and expectations, Athletics Australia has developed guidelines and recommendations known as the FIT Model. The FIT Model is a framework that outlines the recommended types of activities and loads that are most developmentally appropriate for participants. It provides a framework to assess and guide existing and future activities that meet the developmental needs of participants, as well as being an educative tool for parents, coaches, teachers, administrators, and athletes. These guidelines are based on research and evidence and have been adapted and developed from highly regarded models widely used by multiple sports and nations.


The FIT Model contains 5 stages of development:

  1. Fundamentals 1
  2. Fundamentals 2
  3. Introduction to Training
  4. Training I (General)
  5. Training II (specific)

The early stages focus on the development of physical literacy through play and sampling a variety of sports and activities and progress through to the specialisation and investment phases. The FIT Model has a strong focus on the avoidance of early specialisation, particularly with athletics being a late maturation sport. The FIT Model has been produced to assist with the understanding and decision making of parents, coaches, administrators and athletes in relation to selecting developmentally appropriate activities for children.


Download Training and Competition Guidelines

The FIT Model - Overview of Stages of Development

The FIT Model - Overview of Stages of Development is a 3 page document which contains descriptions of the stages of development. It has been developed to ensure a clear understanding of the objectives and focus of the guiding principles for each stage of a young athlete’s development. The athlete development pathway aligns with evidenced based programs and models used in other nations (UK and Northern Island, Canada, North America, New Zealand) with a similar sporting structure and culture to Australian athletics. In addition, the FIT Model reflects Sport Australia’s Physical Literacy Framework and specifically, its approach to holistic development across the four domains of physical literacy (physical, psychological, social and cognitive) as the core driver of lifelong participation in sport and physical activity. The FIT Model - Overview of Stages of Development should be read in conjunction with the Training and Competition Guidelines for Children and Adolescents.

Download Stages of Development Overview

Minimum Age Recommendations for Road (Running and Race Walking) Distance Events

This one page document provides recommended minimum ages for participation in various road running distance events from 5km through to ultra marathons. This guidance is provided for the benefit of athletes, coaches, parents, teachers, and race organisers. 

Download Minimum Age Recommendations