shot put


© Jim Parkin |


The shot is a smooth sphere, free of indentations. Usually they are made of brass, stainless steel or iron, but shot used indoors may be a sphere of synthetic material filled with weights.

Competitor Mass of shot Diameter of shot
Boys under 12 6 pounds
Boys 13-14 4 kilograms
Girls through junior high 2.72 kg (6 pounds)
Men, high school 12 pounds
Women, high school through age 49 4 kilograms 95-110 mm. For indoor meets, the NCAA permits shot as large as 130 mm
Men, college through age 49 7.26 kg (16 pounds) 110-130 mm. For indoor meets, the NCAA permits shot as large as 145 mm
Women age 50 and above 3 kilograms
Men, ages 50 -59 6 kilograms
Special Olympics 3 pounds

Throwing ring

The athlete throws from a circular area at the same level as the ground on which the shot will land. Around the circular area is a raised throwing pad. The length of a throw is measured from the edge nearest to the throwing circle of the first indentation made by the shot, to the “inside edge of the stopboard nearest such mark.”

diagram of shotputting ring

The 100-mm height of the stopboard is measured from the floor of the throwing circle, not from the top of the throwing pad.

The seven-foot diameter of the throwing circle dates from 1904, a period when English-speaking nations were active in the revival of Olympic sports. Its conversion to 2.135 meters instead of an even 2, 2.5 or 3 meters, illustrates why metric conversion in sports is almost always a “soft conversion.” Enlarging or shrinking the throwing circle would have made comparison with previous records doubtful.

Before about 2004, the sector angle was 40 degrees. Apparently it was changed to 34.92° to make it possible to lay out the sector lines and check their accuracy with only some cord and a tape measure; no transit or protractor necessary. Unlike the diameter of the circle or the size of the angle, this procedure does make use of whole numbers.

1. Stretch a cord from the center of the throwing circle to establish where you want one side of the sector angle.

diagram of field layout

2. With a tape measure, measure along the cord starting at the center of the throwing circle. For convenience, the distance measured should be a multiple of 5. The units don't matter; meters, yards or feet will all work. Longer distances are likely to lead to more accurate results. Call the point on the cord you measure to X.

diagram of field layout

3. With the zero point of the tape measure still at the center of the throwing circle, swing the tape around and temporarily mark a curve about where you expect the other side of the sector angle will be.

diagram of field layout

4. Place the zero end of the tape measure at point X. Find the point on the tape that represents 3/5 of the distance in step 2 (if you measured 20 yards in step 2, take 20 times 3/5 = 12 yards). Swing the tape around point X until the 3/5 point falls on the arc made in step 3. Call this point Y.

diagram of field layout

4. Stretch a cord from the center of the throwing circle through point Y. This is the other side of the sector angle.


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