The long term goal of iF3 Youth Programs and Competitions is to develop healthy humans with the motivation and capacity to chose any athletic pursuit in the future.
iF3 Priorities in Developing and Designing Youth Programs and Competitions
- Movement quality is to be prioritized over speed, load or intensity. There must be an allowance in scoring to assess or account for movement quality.
- Youth Athletes shall have movement options presented to them when they are competing or participating as growing humans need the ability to adjust as they grow and change daily.
- Youth events should not look like adult competitions.
- Youth events differ from adult events in what we ask them to do, which is based on what is best developmentally and what can best be expressed by youth athletes.
- Youth events allow for and require safety stoppage by Technical Officials when a Safety Fault has been made.
- The total competitive youth environment is responsive to the bio-psycho-social needs of children. It allows for parent/guardian interaction as well as coach interaction.
- Youth programs and events must follow local laws regarding the protection of youth, including applicable background checks for all adults interacting with youth as well as child specific CPR certification and AED use where appropriate.
- The iF3 will offer to its coaches adequate educational resources to ensure all Youth coaches are prepared to be on the floor at Youth Events. The iF3 endorses the Brand X PYCC to ensure all coaches are trained in working specifically with youth. This is an all online, take at your own pace course and is ACE, NASM, and ASCA accredited. Current educational offerings include:
a) PYCC Professional Youth Coach Certification (available with iF3 discount)
b) Youth Strength Course
c) Mixed Modal Sport Course
- Tests in competition and programming leading to testing will be specifically designed for the needs of a growing child.
How to Develop and Run Age Appropriate Challenges and Competitions
We recommend using the base build boost concept of progressive child biopyschosocial development.
Competitions for Children Ages 12+
Fully scored competitions to begin no earlier than age 12.
When communicating with other adults the tasks undertaken by Youth athletes shall be referred to as Tests. When communicating directly with Youth Athletes the preferred terminology is “Challenges.”
Competitions will be conducted in four age groups as follows:
- Age 12
- Ages 13-14
- Ages 15-16
- Ages 17-18
Each age group will participate in Challenges in the following categories:
- Strength (which shall include a movement quality score)
- Bodyweight (eg. gymnastic skill challenge complex, but not dynamic, relative strength based, no loading)
- Endurance (cyclical movements)
- Mixed Modal (multiple movement challenges under low to no load, in sequence, with corresponding difficulty scores)
Movement Solution Challenges Events for Children Ages 8-11
Younger children, ages 8-11, shall be provided with Movement Solution Challenges which will include varying levels of difficulty options.
These are participation based events with no true scoring.
Examples of Movement Solution Challenges:
For 10 minutes choose any way over a box wall. Every other minute on the minute stop and do 10 box jumps or step-ups.
Setup for this Challenge: In a 10-meter x 10-meter area, split the field down the middle with a row of jump boxes of varying heights.
Traverse a Zone of Obstacles within a given area.
Movement Options to Traverse the Area:
- Swing across
- Climb a rope from edge to edge
- Slackline across
- Simply run through the Zone of Obstacles
Youth Safety Concerns, Movements Standards, And Scoring
Movement safety checks should be performed prior to competition using 1-3 reps at required load with trained TO assessing and approving prior to start of competitive event. This can be done at check in, during the first hour of competition, or by video submission before the competition begins.
Currently no exact point system is required to be used at youth events. However, points may be awarded for good movement quality and be combined with load lifted/repetitions completed on strength and mixed modal events.
Where athletes are presented with movement options, scoring should reflect a graduated point system where a more difficult option will result in the athlete earning more points. The difficulty of the option chosen should allow for broad participation and maintain a high level of motivation for self challenge.
Special Considerations in Officiating
The TO may end the test for an individual athlete if safety under load is jeopardized in either of the following ways
- Spinal instability or lack of neutrality
- Valgus knee position (patella inside big toe)
iF3 Youth Fitness Competition Course
The iF3 Youth Fitness Competition Course focuses on explaining youth fitness competition design and planning. It also includes sections on testing and scoring information as well as stakeholder expectations and nourishment for the youth athlete.
You can register for the iF3 Youth Fitness Competition Course here.
Professional Youth Coach Certification
In order to facilitate safety and protection of young athletes as well as increase knowledge among youth coaches the iF3 supports the Professional Youth Coach Certification (PYCC) course. Information about this course can be found here.