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Shotput Rules

By M.C. Postins

The shot put is a track and field event in which competitors toss a small, weighted metal ball from a circle as far as possible. The ball is 16 lbs. for men and 8 lbs., 3 oz. for women in Olympic competition, which has fielded shot put competition since the first modern Games in 1896. Women have competed in the Olympics in this event since 1948.

Before the Throw

Athletes must comply with all uniform rules. Wrists can be taped, but fingers and hands cannot be taped unless they're used to cover open wounds. Warm-ups should always be supervised by a coach or official.

Throwing Basics

The metal ball (the shot) and throwing sector vary at different levels, but the fundamentals do not. The shot must be put, or pushed, and not thrown. To do so, the participant must keep the throwing elbow below the shoulder. To start a put, the shot should touch the chin or neck. The flight of the put should not begin below or behind the shoulder.

In the Circle

The put must be initiated inside the circle within the time limit, which at most competitive levels is one minute. Athletes must remain inside the circle during the put motion. Also, participants cannot stop on the toe board or the shot put ring, which is marked by metal or a painted circle. While shot putters can enter the circle from any direction, they must exit from the rear half of the circle. They must also be under control when they exit the circle.

The Judge

The head judge observes the throw to ensure compliance of the rules and is the arbiter of those rules. The judge will usually shout "Mark!" to signify a legal throw and "Scratch!" to mark an illegal throw.

What's an Illegal Throw?

Generally, there are four ways for a shot putter to earn an illegal throw--if the throw starts without a pause after entering the circle, if the thrower touches the circle or the ground outside the circle before the shot lands, if the shot lands on or outside the throwing sector, or if the competitor does not leave through the back half of the circle after completing the throw.

Measuring the Throw

If a throw is deemed legal, the zero end of the tape is placed at the point of the shot's impact in the pit, using the impact mark nearest the throwing circle. The reading of the tape is done at the inside edge of the scratch line, in line with the center of the circle.

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