TrainingEunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics with the belief that people with intellectual disabilities could learn, enjoy and benefit from participation inindividual and team sports. Consistent training is crucial in the development of an athlete’s sports skills.
The Special Olympics Sports Rules provides standards for Special Olympics training and competition. Anyone who is at least 6 years old and is identified as having an intellectual disability may train and compete as a Special Olympics athlete. Children between the ages of 2 ½ and 7 can participate in the Young Athletes program. Athletes must have a current Medical and Consent form on file and train with a certified Special Olympics coach for at least eight weeksand at least 8 years old to be eligible for competition.
Athletes prepare for competition as members of a training club. They train under a certified Special Olympics coach. Training clubs can be found in schools, service agencies and community recreation centers throughout the state.
Athletes train for an entire training season in preparation for local, regional, super regional and State Games competition opportunities. A sports season is typically eight to ten weeks long and includes:
- Sports skills training
- Fitness Training
- Instruction in sports rules and sportsmanship
Athletes train in suitable sports attire and are provided with proper equipment. Facilities are safe and appropriate to the sport in which the athletes are training.