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Which Athletics Event is Best for my Child?

8 November 2023

Athletics is a really diverse set of sporting activities which involve different skills and attributes. You may be wondering which of the many events would be best for your child. In this article, we’ll cover what each of the types of athletics involves and what kind of skills it uses. Any athletic activity can teach children valuable life skills such as discipline, perseverance, and teamwork, as well as improving their fitness and strength. 


Sprints are short distance races, with the 100 metre being the most popular. The current world record holder is Usain Bolt, with a time of 9.58 seconds - something to aim for! Sprinting can help children develop speed, agility, and coordination. It's perfect for athletes who have explosive speed and enjoy short, fast races. The 200m and 400m races require a bit more endurance, so they are suited to children who excel at both speed and stamina.

Long-distance running

Long-distance running events include the 800 metre, 1500 metre, 5000 metre and 10,000 metre races. These events require more stamina and patience, to keep a steady, sustainable pace. Practising long-distance running can help build stamina and improve cardiovascular health. The 800m race is one of the most popular long-distance running events as it's a good middle ground between shorter sprints and longer distances. The longer races require more endurance, setting children up nicely to run marathons when they’re older.


Hurdling is a track and field event that involves running and jumping over obstacles. Events include the 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, and 3000m steeplechase. It’s ideal if your children are agile, good at both jumping and running, and have a good balance. It can help them develop their coordination and explosive power. These events require speed, endurance, and technique, so good for all-rounders.


There are several jumping events, including the long jump and triple jump, which are judged by the distance jumped, as well as high jump and pole vault. Athletes require explosive power and strength for these sports, along with balance, but these skills can be improved through practice. 


There are many throwing events in modern athletics, including the shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer throw. Some of these items are heavy so require great strength, while others need a mixture of strength and agility. All throwing events involve accuracy, good hand-eye coordination and balance. They may be better suited to children who are less keen on running and jumping and enjoy aiming for targets. 

Ultimately, it’s important that your child enjoys whichever events they choose, because this will make them more likely to stick with it and perform at their best. We recommend starting out by trying all of them and deciding on a specialism once they’re a bit older. They may be naturally suited to a particular type of event based on their physical characteristics, however strength, stamina, balance and agility can all be improved through practice. 

Photo by Vlad Vasnetsov

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