Shot put

Shot putter, from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF35-1326]
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Shot putter at the University of Nebraska, 1942, showing the circle and stopboard, by John Vachon, from Library of Congress collection.

This track and field event has the athlete putting (throwing in a pushing motion) a heavy sphere.  Throws take place inside a marked circle 2.135 metres (7.00 ft) in diameter, with a stop-board about 10 cm high (4 in) at the leading edge of the circle. For safety the circle may be surrounded on 3 sides by a cage at least 4m (13 ft) high. The throw is measured from the inside of the circumference of the circle to the nearest mark made in the ground by the falling shot.

Types of shots

Materials may include iron, steel, brass, and synthetic materials like polyvinyl. Using materials that are more or less dense results in different shot sizes for the same weight.  Indoor shots are larger than outdoor versions, so are made of different materials. There are many size and weight standards for the shot, depending on the age and sex of the competitors. National customs of the governing body may also influence sizes.


Typically in competition there are three preliminary rounds to qualify, and then three final rounds for the qualifiers. The competitor's longest throw may occur in any round, including the preliminary ones.

In open competitions the men's shot weighs 7.260 kilograms (16.01 lb), and the women's shot weighs 4 kilograms (8.8 lb). The weights used in junior, school, and masters competitions are typically lighter than those used in open competitions.

Legal throws

The following rules govern a legal throw:

  • After having their name called, the athlete has 60 seconds to start the throw.
  • Gloves are not permitted, but individual fingers may be taped.
  • The shot must rest close to the neck, and be kept tight to the neck throughout the throw.
  • Using only one hand, the shot must be released above the height of the shoulder.
  • No part of the athletes body may touch the top or outside of the circle or stop-board, or the ground outside the circle.
  • The shot must land in the legal throwing area.
  • Must leave the cricle from the rear half.

Foul throws occur when an athlete:

  • Fails to pause within the circle before beginning the throw.
  • Fails to start within 60 seconds of having their name called.
  • The shot drops below the shoulder or outside the vertical plane of the shoulder during the put.
  • The shot falls outside the throwing sector or touches a sector line on the initial impact.
  • Exits the circle before the shot has landed.
  • Fails to exit from the rear half of the circle.
  • During the throw, touches with any part of the body (including shoes):
  • the top or ends of the stop board
  • the top of the iron ring
  • anywhere outside the circle.

Putting styles

Two putting styles are in current general use by shot put competitors: the glide and the spin (used by most top male athletes). With all putting styles, the goal is to release the shot with maximum forward velocity at an angle of approximately forty degrees.


The glide was first used in 1951.  The putter faces backwards, rotates 180 degrees across the circle, and then launches the shot.

A right-handed thrower begins by facing the rear of the circle, then kicks to the front with the left leg, while pushing off with the right. While crossing the circle, the hips twist to the front, the left arm swings out and is then pulled back tight, followed by the shoulders, and the right arm puts. The aim is to move quickly across the circle with as little air under the feet as possible, hence the name "glide".


The spin was first seen in 1972.  The athlete rotates like a discus thrower and uses the rotational momentum for power.

A right-handed thrower faces to the rear, and spins on the ball of the left foot. The athlete comes around and faces the front of the circle and drives the right foot into the middle of the circle. Finally, the thrower stretches for the front of the circle with the left foot, twists the hips and shoulders, and puts the shot.

When executing the spin, the upper body is twisted hard to the right,  building up torque, and stretching the muscles.  This 'elasticity' provides extra power. Preparatory to release, the left foot is firmly planted and the shot is pushed in an upward and outward direction.

The spin also builds up a high rotational speed, by first swinging the right leg, and then bringing all the limbs in tightly.  This is how figure skaters increase their speed by bringing in their arms. Once speed is maximised, the shot is released.

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The page was derived from the wikipedia page Shot put.

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