What Are the Track and Field Throwing Events?

The throwing events in track and field have a long and storied history, but casual fans don’t know much about them. Most know the shot put and discus, but what other events are there and where can you find them?

The four Olympic track and field throwing events are shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer throws. The javelin and hammer throw are not very well known to the general public, in part because they are rarely events in high school meets. There are also other, less common events.

Track and Field Throwing Events

Photo By: Alan Isherwood

Shot Put

You can find it: everywhere

The shot put, along with discus, are the most well-known of the throwing events. It is competed pretty much everywhere, including indoor and outdoor meets. Pretty much all middle schools and high schools have the event and it is also at the youth, junior, collegiate, and open levels.

The shot is a heavy metal ball. The athletes use either a spinning or glide technique, hoping to maximize their distance and stay in the ring.

Below is a video of a 2015 IAAF Diamond League competition in Eugene, Oregon. The Diamond League features some of the best athletes at each event in the world.

Discus Throw

You can find it: everywhere

The discus throw is about as popular as the shot put, although it is rarely found in indoor meets. It is also competed at all levels and has been a mainstay at the Olympics. The implement is a round and platter-like. Athletes use a spinning technique to build speed and momentum before releasing the implement.

Here is a video of the top throwers from the 2015 Shanghai Diamond League meet.

Javelin Throw

You can find it: youth, junior, some high schools, college, open

Javelin can be found as an official event in 14 states in the United States. It is also competed at other levels in outdoor meets. The javelin is a long, light sphere that is thrown for distance.

Below is video of a javelin competition from the 2011 Diamond League.

Hammer Throw

You can find it: youth, junior, few high schools, college, open

The hammer consists of a metal ball, a long wire, and a handle. The athlete turns, usually 3 or 4 times, to build momentum before letting go of the implement. Even more so than javelin, this is less well-known than shot put and discus. It is only an official track and field event in 1 state (Rhode Island) today, although it is increasing in popularity in some states and is found in exhibition or open meets. The cost of a proper cage and the liability of the event have prevented from being more common in high schools in the past.

Here is a video of Anita Wlodarczyk setting one of her world records in the event.

Weight Throw

You can find it: few high schools, college, open

The weight throw is not an Olympic event. Today, it is primarily found in the United States at the collegiate and open levels at indoor track and field meets. It is an event at the USATF Indoor Championships. It is also growing as an indoor track event at the high school level. The technique used is the same as the hammer throw, but it is a shorter and heavier implement.

The superweight throw is a heavier version of the weight. It was actually an Olympic event in the early 20th century, but is now mostly used in open meets in the United States. You can find out more about the superweight here.

Below is video of A.G. Kruger competing in the weight. Kruger is a 9-time USA Champion in the event.

The track and field throwing events may not be the most popular athletic events out there, but they are usually among the most fun and exciting to watch in person.

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