and field event in which an athlete tries to
"throw" a metal ball as far as possible
The ancient Greeks threw stones as a sport and
soldiers are recorded as throwing cannon
balls in the Middle Ages, but a version of the
modern shot-put can be traced to the Highland
Games in Scotland during the 19th century where
competitors threw a rounded cube, stone, or metal
weight from behind a line. The shot-put has been an Olympic event since the
first modern games in 1896; women began competing
in the event in 1948.
Today, shot-putters use a metal
ball. Men use a 16-pound (7.3-kilogram) shot,
high school athletes use one of 12 pounds (5.4
kilograms), and women use one that weighs 8
pounds 13 ounces (4 kilograms). The specific
metal used varies, as does the diameter of the
shot. The put is made from within a
7-foot-diameter (2.1-meter) circle with an
arc-shaped wooden 4-inch-high (10-centimeter)
stopboard forming its front.
Before 1951, the main movements involved in
the shot-put were to stand and throw from a
crouched starting position. The winner of the
shot put Olympic gold medal in 1896 was Bob
Garrett of the United States with a throw of
11.22 meters. The current mens shot put
world record holder is Randy Barnes of the United
States, who had an outdoor throw of 23.12 meters.
His success as a thrower is attributed to the
rotational style of throwing known as the
"spin," which was first introduced in
1976 by American shot-putter Brian Oldfield. The
spin developed from a throwing style known as the
"glide," which was pioneered by
American Parry OBrien in 1951 and is now
considered a major turning point in the history
of the sport as it introduced the technique of
facing away from the direction of the throw at
the beginning the movement. A key factor in all
shot put styles is that the shot must be put as
opposed to thrown.
Whichever method is used, the shot cannot drop below the line of the
athlete's shoulders prior to being put and it
must land inside a designated 35-degree sector.
The athlete cannot touch the top of the board
during the put, nor can he/she leave the circle
before the shot lands, and then only from the
rear. The measurement is taken from the nearest
edge of the first break of ground to the nearest
point on the inside edge of the circle.
In the glide technique, the
athlete starts from the back of the circle, with
the shot balanced in his/her hand and cradled
against the neck. The athlete then hops or glides
forward until the leading foot is near the
stopboard. As he/she propels the shot his/her
momentum turns the body so that the positions of
the feet are reversed and the weight is well
forward on what was the following foot. The
idealangle of release is about 40 degrees.
The spin technique involves rotating like a
discus thrower and using rotational momentum for
power. With this technique, a right-hand putter
faces the rear and begins to spin on the ball of
the left foot. As the putter comes around and
faces the front of the circle he/she drives the
right foot into the middle of the circle.
Finally, the putter reaches for the front of the
circle with the left foot, twisting the hips and
shoulders like in the glide, and puts the shot.
When the athlete executes the spin, the upper
body is twisted hard to the right, which builds
up torque and stretches the muscles, creating an
involuntary elasticity in the muscles, providing
extra power and momentum. When the athlete
prepares to release, the left foot is firmly
planted, causing the momentum and energy
generated to be conserved, pushing the shot in an
upward and outward direction.
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