The shot put is an athletics
(track and field) event involving "putting" (throwing in a
pushing motion) a heavy metal ball, also called the shot, as far as
In the English
language it is common to use the term "shot put" to refer to
both the shot itself and to the throwing motion. Both usages are
Competitions and rules
Competitors take their throw from inside a circle 7 feet (2.135
metres) in diameter, with
a toe board approximately 10 cm (4") high at the front of the
circle. The distance thrown is measured from the inside of the
circumfrence of the circle to where the shot lands at its nearest
disturbance of the soil.
- The athlete must rest the shot in between the neck and shoulder
and keep it tight to the neck while throwing.
- At the end of the throw, the thrower must push the throwing arm
straight with the thumb pointing down.
- If the thrower does not push the ball out and throws it like a
baseball, the thrower may receive an injury.
Foul Throws, are called when an athlete,
- Does not leave from the rear half of the circle.
- Steps out of the circle before the judge calls the mark.
- Allows some article of clothing to touch the top of the
toeboard, the top of the iron ring or outside the circle.
- Throws a shot which falls outside of the borders to the left
and the right.
not requiring the same level of finesse as discus, shot put is not
merely heaving a metal ball but requires immense strength, power,
grace, and balance.
Each competitor receives a certain number of throws, usually 6
in elite competition, and the competitor with the farthest legal
put is declared the winner. In men's competition, the shot weighs
7.26 kilograms (16 pounds).
The women's shot weighs 4 kg (8.8 pounds). American high
schools usually use 12 pound (5.44 kg) shots for boys and 4 kg
shots for girls; these are sometimes known as practice shots. The
weight of the ball differs depending the age group.
Shot put competitions have been held at the Summer Olympic
Games since their inception, and is also included as an event
in the indoor world championships. The shot put originates from
games 'stone put' where Scottish people
put a rounded cube stone or metal form of considerable weight from
behind a given line.
Two mainstream putting styles currently exist in use by shot put
competitors, the glide and the spin. In the glide, the thrower
begins facing the rear of the circle and kicks to the front with
the left leg while pushing off forcefully with the right, for a
right-handed thrower. The key is to move quickly across the circle
with as little air under the feet as possible, hence the name
"glide". As the thrower crosses the circle, the hips twist toward
the front, followed by the shoulders and strikes in a putting
motion with his arm. (the glide, invented in 1876 in the United
States). In 1951, Parry O'Brien of
the United States invented a technique that involves the putter
facing backwards, spinning 180 degrees across the circle, and then
tossing the shot. From this, in 1976,
Brian Oldfield popularized a technique which involves rotating
like a discus thrower,
known as the spin, which uses rotational momentum for power.
Oldfeld set the record of 75 feet (22.86m) in 1975; it was
"unofficial" because he was a professional but undisputed and over
3 feet better than the official world record at the time.
Oldfield's record in the 21 years since has been bettered by only
10 inches. In the spin, the thrower faces the rear, and begins to
spin on the ball of the left foot. The thrower comes around and
faces the front of the circle and steps the right foot into the
middle of the circle. Finally, the thrower reaches for the front of
the circle with the left foot, twists his hips and shoulders like
in the glide, and puts the shot. The inventor of the spin is
unknown although it was first used by the Germans in the early
In all three cases, the key is to gain maximum forward velocity
to help speed the shot on its way at roughly a forty five degree
angle upon release of the shot put. Currently, most top male shot
putters use the spin, but the glide remains popular, especially at
the amateur level and among women, since the technique is easier to
master. It is noteworthy that the number one distance all time by a
male putter (Randy Barnes) was
completed with the spin technique, while the close second-best
all-time distance (Ulf Timmermann)
was completed with the glide technique.