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What is a Shot Put?

Niki Acker
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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A shot put is a track and field athletic event in which the athlete throws or puts a metal weight called a shot. This event has ancient origins in strong man competitions, in which stones were originally thrown instead of metal balls. Events such as the stone put of the Scottish Highland games and the Steinstossen native to Switzerland are its precursors. Shot put was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has been an event in every Summer Olympic Games since then.

A shot put is performed inside of a 7-foot (2.14 meters) circle with a four-inch tall (10 cm) toe board at the front edge. Distance is measured from the inside of the circle's circumference to the closest disturbance of soil caused by the shot. The shot may be made of brass or any heavier metal, though brass and iron are most common. Regulation weights are 16 pounds (7.26 kilograms) for men and 8.8 pounds (4 kg) for women. Each competitor typically has six throws, and the best single throw is the winner.

The shot putter must step into the front half of the circle but must not leave the circle during the throw. The weight must be thrown from the shoulder and pushed off the fingertips, not thrown like a baseball. Using improper form is cause for disqualification.

There are two major techniques in shot put: the glide and the spin. In both techniques, the athlete begins facing the rear of the circle. In the glide, she leaps forward while turning and throwing the shot, "gliding" across the circle. In the spin, the thrower simply rotates while throwing, without his feet leaving the ground.

Shot putters have been successful using both techniques. The glide is usually mastered first and has more consistent results. However, most top male athletes favor the spin.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Sports n' Hobbies editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
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Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Sports n' Hobbies editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide...
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