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When Does the Track and Field Season Start?

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

For aspiring student-athletes, understanding the intricacies of the track and field season is crucial. Whether you’re a high school sprinter with dreams of competing at the collegiate level or a dedicated pole vaulter seeking an athletic scholarship, knowing when the track and field season starts can make all the difference in your preparation and performance. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the details of the track and field season, comparing high school and college levels, as well as the distinctions between indoor and outdoor seasons. We’ll also provide you with handy tables showcasing various leagues and their respective start and finish months.

High School vs. College Track and Field Seasons


One of the first things to understand when it comes to the track and field season is that there are distinct differences between high school and college levels. These differences can significantly impact when the season starts and what you can expect from it.


High School Track and Field Season

High school track and field seasons generally follow a consistent schedule across the United States, but there can be some regional variations. Typically, high school track and field seasons are divided into three main parts:

  1. Pre-Season (Optional): This phase usually starts in the late winter months, around January or February, depending on your location. Pre-season workouts and conditioning are essential to prepare athletes for the upcoming season.

  2. Regular Season: The official high school track and field season typically kicks off in March or April, depending on the region and climate. This is when athletes participate in meets, competitions, and try to qualify for regional and state championships.

  3. Post-Season: For successful athletes, the post-season may extend into June, culminating with state championships and possibly national-level competitions.

It’s important to note that participation in the pre-season is often optional, but it can give dedicated athletes a significant advantage in terms of conditioning and skill development.



College Track and Field Season

The college track and field season varies from high school in several key ways. Firstly, college programs offer both indoor and outdoor seasons, whereas high school primarily focuses on the outdoor season. Secondly, college track and field seasons typically have more extensive and competitive schedules.

  1. Indoor Season: College indoor track and field seasons usually begin in December and extend through March. Indoor competitions take place in facilities such as indoor tracks or arenas, and they offer athletes an opportunity to fine-tune their skills before the outdoor season.

  2. Outdoor Season: The outdoor track and field season in college typically starts in March or April, similar to high school. However, it can extend well into June or July for athletes who qualify for national championships.

  3. Year-Round Training: College athletes often engage in year-round training, with a focus on strength and conditioning during the off-season.

The main difference here is the inclusion of an indoor season at the college level, providing athletes with more opportunities to compete and improve their skills.





Indoor vs. Outdoor Track and Field Seasons

Now that we’ve discussed the differences between high school and college track and field seasons, let’s dive into the distinctions between indoor and outdoor seasons. Both offer unique experiences and challenges for athletes.


Indoor Track and Field Season

Indoor track and field season provides a controlled environment for athletes. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Facilities: Indoor meets take place on shorter tracks, typically 200 meters in length, and often in arenas or fieldhouses. This differs from the 400-meter outdoor track used during the outdoor season.

  2. Events: While many events are similar to outdoor track and field, some events are unique to indoor competitions. These include the 60-meter and 200-meter sprints, as well as specialized field events like the shot put and high jump.

  3. Climate Control: Indoor facilities offer climate control, eliminating the impact of adverse weather conditions on performances.

  4. Training Benefits: Indoor season provides athletes with the opportunity to work on their speed and technique, which can translate to improved outdoor performances.


Outdoor Track and Field Season

The outdoor track and field season offers a more traditional and varied experience:

  1. Events: Athletes have the opportunity to compete in a wider range of events, including the 100 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, and various relay races. Field events like the long jump, triple jump, and discus are also featured.

  2. Variable Conditions: Unlike the controlled environment of indoor meets, outdoor competitions can be affected by weather conditions. Athletes must adapt to various elements like wind, rain, and heat.

  3. Longer Distances: Outdoor races take place on a standard 400-meter track, requiring athletes to adapt to longer distances compared to the 200-meter indoor track.

  4. Preparing for Nationals: Success in the outdoor season can lead to qualification for national championships, where the best collegiate athletes from across the country compete.


In summary, both indoor and outdoor track and field seasons have their unique advantages and challenges. Athletes often choose to participate in both to develop a well-rounded skill set and maximize their competitive opportunities.


Track and Field Seasons by League

To help you plan your track and field season, let’s take a closer look at when different leagues typically start and finish their seasons. Please note that these dates can vary slightly from year to year and are subject to change, so it’s essential to check with your specific league for the most up-to-date information. Below are approximate start and finish months for various leagues:



League

Indoor Start Month

Indoor Finish Month

Outdoor Start Month

Outdoor Finish Month

NCAA Division I

December

March/April

March/April

June/July

NCAA Division II

December

March/April

March/April

June/July

NCAA Division III

December

March/April

March/April

June/July

NAIA

November

March/April

March/April

May/June

High School (USA)

January/February

June

March/April

June

Preparing for a Successful Track and Field Season

Now that we’ve covered the basics of when the track and field season starts, it’s time to explore how you can prepare for a successful season, whether you’re a high school athlete aspiring to compete at the collegiate level or a college athlete aiming for national recognition.

High School Athletes:

  1. Off-Season Conditioning: Use the off-season to build strength and endurance. Engage in regular workouts that focus on your event or discipline. Consult with your high school coach for a personalized training plan.

  2. Join a Club Team: Consider joining a local track and field club team during the off-season to receive additional coaching and competition experience.

  3. Academic Excellence: Maintain strong academic performance, as many colleges and universities look for well-rounded student-athletes.

  4. Recruitment: Start the college recruitment process early. Reach out to college coaches, attend recruiting events, and create an athletic resume highlighting your achievements.

  5. Injury Prevention: Focus on injury prevention by practicing proper warm-up routines, cool-down exercises, and maintaining flexibility.


College Athletes:

  1. Year-Round Training: Engage in year-round training to maintain peak physical condition. Coordinate with your college coach to create a well-structured training plan.

  2. Balanced Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet to support your training regimen. Consult with a sports nutritionist if necessary.

  3. Set Goals: Establish clear performance goals for both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Work with your coach to create a strategy for achieving these goals.

  4. Recovery: Prioritize recovery to prevent burnout and injuries. Adequate rest, proper hydration, and regular sports massages can be beneficial.

  5. Academic Success: Maintain academic excellence, as most collegiate athletes are required to meet certain GPA standards to remain eligible for competition.


Aspiring for Athletic Scholarships

Student-athletes aiming for athletic scholarships must understand the competitive nature of the recruiting process. Here are some tips to increase your chances of securing a scholarship:

  1. Research Schools: Identify colleges and universities that offer track and field scholarships and align with your academic and athletic goals.

  2. Create a Highlight Video: Put together a well-edited highlight video showcasing your best performances. Include relevant statistics and accomplishments.

  3. Attend Showcases and Camps: Attend recruiting showcases and camps where college coaches are present. This provides an opportunity for direct interaction and evaluation.

  4. Maintain Communication: Stay in regular contact with college coaches. Express your interest, ask questions, and provide updates on your progress.

  5. Academic Excellence: Strong academic performance can open doors to academic scholarships and improve your overall appeal to coaches.

  6. Seek Guidance: Consider working with an athletic scholarship consultant who can provide personalized advice and help you navigate the recruitment process.




Division I and II schools offer athletic scholarships for track and field, while Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships. However, Division III schools can offer academic scholarships and financial aid.


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