The shot put is a track and field event involving "throwing"/"putting" (throwing in a pushing motion) a heavy spherical object—the shot—as far as possible. The shot put competition for men has been a part of the modern Olympics since their revival in 1896, and women's competition began in 1948 and it is also included as an event in the World Athletics Championships.
How it works: The shot, a metal ball (7.26kg/16lb for men, 4kg/8.8lb for women), is put – not thrown – with one hand. The aim is to put it as far as possible from a seven-foot diameter (2.135m) circle that has a curved 10-centimetre high toe-board at the front. In order for the put to be measured, the shot must not drop below the line of the athlete’s shoulders at any stage of the put and must land inside a designated 35-degree sector. The athlete, meanwhile, must not touch the top of the toe-board during their put or leave the circle before the ball has landed, and then only from the rear half of the circle. Athletes will commonly throw four or six times per competition. In the event of a tie, the winner will be the athlete with the next-best effort.
Technique: Under IAAF rules, the shot putter must begin with the shot touching or “in close proximity to” the neck or the chin. He or she may not drop the shot lower than this position afterward, and must put the shot with one hand only. Cartwheeling techniques are not permitted. Shot putting requires strength and sound footwork during the approach. Some shot putters use the “glide” technique, moving forward in a straight line from the back of the throwing circle before releasing the shot. Others use the “spin” or “rotational” method in which they spin as they move forward, to generate momentum for the throw. Two putting styles are in current general use by shot put competitors:
Glide: With this technique, a right-hand thrower would begin facing the rear of the circle, and then kick to the front with the left leg, while pushing off forcefully with the right. As the thrower crosses the circle, the hips twist toward the front, the left arm is swung out then pulled back tight, followed by the shoulders, and they then strike in a putting motion with their right arm. The key is to move quickly across the circle with as little air under the feet as possible, hence the name 'glide'.
Spin: With this technique, a right-hand 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 drives the right foot into the center of the circle. Finally, the thrower reaches for the front of the circle with the left foot, twisting the hips and shoulders like in the glide, and puts the shot. The spin technique is similar in principle to the basic discus-throwing technique, but there are key differences. For example, the shot put throwing circle is smaller, requiring a tighter turn. But the major difference involves the implement itself. While the discus is held at the end of an extended throwing arm, the shot remains close to the thrower’s neck – near the center of the rotation – making balance more difficult.
Legal throws: The following rules (indoor and outdoor) are adhered to for a legal throw:
- Upon calling the athlete's name, the athlete may choose from any part of the throwing circle to enter inside. They have sixty seconds to commence the throwing motion otherwise they are banned from the game.
- The athlete may not wear gloves; IAAF rules permit the taping of individual fingers.
- The athlete must rest the shot close to the neck, and keep it tight to the neck throughout the motion.
- The shot must be released above the height of the shoulder, using only one hand.
- The athlete may touch the inside surface of the circle or toe board, but must not touch the top or outside of the circle or toe board, or the ground beyond the circle. Limbs may however extend over the lines of the circle in the air.
- The shot must land in the legal sector (34.92°) of the throwing area.
- The athlete must leave the throwing circle from the back.
Foul Throw: Foul throws occur when an athlete:
- Does not complete the throwing movement within sixty seconds of having their name called.
- Does not pause within the circle before beginning the throwing motion.
- Allows the shot to drop below his shoulder or outside the vertical plane of his shoulder during the put.
- At any time if the shot loses contact with the neck then it is technically an illegal throw.
- During the throwing motion, touches with any part of the body (including shoes):
- the top or ends of the toe board
- the top of the iron ring
- anywhere outside the circle.
- Throws a shot which either falls outside the throwing sector or touches a sector line on the initial impact.
- Leaves the circle before the shot has landed.
- Does not leave from the rear half of the circle.