Shot put

Shot put

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The shot put is an field event involving "putting" (throwing in a pushing motion) a heavy metal ball (called the shot) as far as possible. It is common to use the term "shot put" to refer to both the shot itself and to the throwing motion.


Competitions and rules

Competitors take their throw from inside a circle 7 feet (2.13 m) in diameter, with a toe board approximately 4 inches (0.10 m) high at the front of the circle. The distance thrown is measured from the inside of the circumference of the circle to the disturbance of the soil from which the ball bounced, then stopped.


Shot put is covered by the USATF Rules of Competiton Rule 221.

  • Upon calling the athlete's name, he/she has 20 seconds to begin the throwing motion.
  • Athlete can enter the ring from any side.
  • The athlete must rest the shot close to the neck and keep it tight to the neck while throwing.
  • Athlete is allowed to touch the inside edge of the circle but must not touch the top or outside of the toeboard.
  • Shot put must land in a legal sector of the throwing area.
  • Athlete must exhibit a controlled exit using the rear half of the circle.

Foul throws occur when an athlete:

  • Does not exit from the rear half of the circle.
  • Touches (with either a body part or even a piece of material such as a shoelace), before the implement lands, any of
    • the top of the toe board
    • the top of the iron ring
    • anywhere outside the circle after having entered it.
  • Throws a shot which falls outside the throwing sector.
  • Allows the shot to drop below his shoulder or outside the vertical plane of his shoulder during the put.
  • Does not pause or demonstrate control after entering/exiting the circle.
  • Does not begin the throwing movement within 60 seconds of having his name called.


Each competition has a set number of rounds of throws. Typically there are 3 rounds of preliminaries to determine seats for the final. 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 (8.82 lb). American high schools usually use 12 pounds (5.44 kg) shots for boys and 4 kg shots for girls; these are sometimes used as practice shots as well. The weight of the ball differs depending on the age group. Men over the age of 50 or under 19 use a 6 kg shot (13.2 pounds) in international competition.

Shot put competitions have been held at the Summer Olympic Games since their inception, and is also included as an event in athletic world championships. The shot put originates from Highland games 'stone put' where competitors put a rounded cube, stone, or metal form of considerable weight from behind a given line.

Putting styles

Two putting styles are in current general use by shot put competitors: the glide and the spin.

The origin of the glide dates to 1951, when Parry O'Brien of the United States invented a technique that involves the putter facing backwards, rotating 180 degrees across the circle, and then tossing the shot. With this technique, a right-hand thrower begins facing the rear of the circle and kicks to the front with the left leg while pushing off forcefully with the right. 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 their arm.

In 1972 year Aleksandr Baryshnikov set his first USSR record by using a new putting style. [1] [2] In 1976 Aleksandr Baryshnikov set a world record with "spin" style and first time crossed 22 meters bound. That "spin" style ("круговой мах" in Russian) was invented by his coach Viktor Alexeyev. [3][4]

The spin was also invented in the United States in 1976. From this, in 1976, Brian Oldfield popularized the spin technique which involves rotating like a discus thrower and using rotational momentum for power. Oldfield set the record of 75 feet (23 m) in 1975; it was unofficial, however, because he was a professional at a time when the IAAF had an amateur-only policy, but undisputed and over 3 feet better than the official world record at the time. Oldfield's record in the 33 years since has been bettered by only 10 1/4 inches. In the spin, a right-handed 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 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.

With all putting styles, the goal is to release the shot with maximum forward velocity at an angle of approximately forty degrees. 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 breeds higher consistency for the athlete as opposed to the rotational technique. It is worth noting that the world record by a male putter (Randy Barnes 75 ft 10¼ in (23.120 m) was completed with the spin technique, while the close second-best all-time distance (Ulf Timmermann 75 ft 8 in (23.063 m)) was completed with the glide technique. The U.S. high school record for the 12-point shot, 81 ft 3½ in (24.778 m) by Michael Carter, was also completed with the glide technique. Measuring which technique can provide the most potential is difficult, as many of the best throws recorded with each technique come from athletes under a thick cloud of doping suspicion and violations. In some opinions the decision to glide or spin should be based on the thrower's size and power, with short throwers benefiting from the spin and taller throwers benefiting from the glide, but many throwers do not follow this guideline. Almost all throwers start by using the glide.

World records

The current world record holders are:

Type Athlete Distance Venue Date
Outdoor Randy Barnes[5] 23.12 m (75 ft 10.2 in) Westwood, California, USA May 20, 1990
Indoor Randy Barnes 22.66 m (74 ft 4.1 in) Los Angeles, California, USA January 20, 1989
Outdoor Natalya Lisovskaya 22.63 m (74 ft 2.9 in) Moscow, USSR June 7, 1987
Indoor Helena Fibingerová 22.50 m (73 ft 9.8 in) Jablonec, CZE February 19, 1977

Area records

  • Updated 16 June, 2009[6]
Area Men's Women's
Distance Athlete Nation Distance Athlete Nation
Africa 21.97 m Janus Robberts South Africa South Africa 18.35 m Vivian Chukwuemeka Nigeria Nigeria
Asia 21.13 m Sultan Abdulmajeed Al-Hebshi Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 21.76 m Meisu Li China China
Europe 23.06 m Ulf Timmermann East Germany East Germany 22.63 m WR Natalya Lisovskaya Soviet Union Soviet Union
North and Central
America, and Caribbean
23.12 m WR Randy Barnes United States United States 20.96 m[a] Belsy Laza Cuba Cuba
Oceania 21.26 m Scott Martin Australia Australia 21.07 m Valerie Vili New Zealand New Zealand
South America 21.13 m Marco Antonio Verni Chile Chile 19.30 m[a] Elisângela Adriano Brazil Brazil

Note: [a]Represents a time set at a high altitude.[7]

Top 10 performers

  • Accurate as September 2, 2009


Mark Athlete Venue Date
23.12 United States Randy Barnes (USA) UCLA May 20, 1990
23.06 East Germany Ulf Timmermann (GDR) Khania May 22, 1988
22.91 Italy Alessandro Andrei (ITA) Viareggio August 12, 1987
22.86 United States Brian Oldfield (USA) El Paso May 10, 1975
22.75 Switzerland Werner Günthör (SUI) Bern August 23, 1988
22.67 United States Kevin Toth (USA) Lawrence April 19, 2003
22.64 East Germany Udo Beyer (GDR) Berlin August 20, 1986
22.54 United States Christian Cantwell (USA) Gresham June 5, 2004
22.52 United States John Brenner (USA) Walnut April 26, 1987
22.51 United States Adam Nelson (USA) Gresham May 18, 2002


Mark Athlete Venue Date
22.63 Soviet Union Natalya Lisovskaya (URS) Moscow June 7, 1987
22.45 East Germany Ilona Briesenick (GDR) Potsdam May 11, 1980
22.32 Czechoslovakia Helena Fibingerová] (TCH) Nitra August 20, 1977
22.19 West Germany Claudia Losch (FRG) Hainfeld August 23, 1987
21.89 Bulgaria Ivanka Khristova (BUL) Belmeken July 4, 1976
21.86 East Germany Marianne Adam (GDR) Leipzig June 23, 1979
21.76 China Li Meisu (CHN) Shijiazhuang April 23, 1988
21.73 Soviet Union Natalya Akhrimenko (URS) Leselidze May 21, 1988
21.69 Ukraine Vita Pavlysh (UKR) Budapest August 15, 1998
21.66 China Sui Xinmei (CHN) Beijing June 9, 1990

See also

  • World record progression shot put men
  • World record progression shot put women
  • Stone put


  1. Aleksandr Baryshnikov biography on (in russian) reference tested at 11 May 2009
  2. Aleksandr Baryshnikov, Athlete from Russia (in russian) reference tested at 11 May 2009
  3. Shot put history reference tested at 11 May 2009
  4. Григорий РУДЕРМАН (Израиль), заслуженный тренер России «Метания в хх веке : тенденции развития.» reference tested at 11 May 2009
  5. IAAF Shot Put Records. Retrieved on 01-11-07.
  6. Records by event - Shot put. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-05-10.
  7. 60 Metres Records. IAAF (2009-04-04). Retrieved on 2009-04-04.
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