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Beginner's Track and Field: Learning the Discus Throw


Beginner's Track and Field: Learning the Discus Throw

The discus throw begins with the proper grip. Jarred Rome places his middle and index fingers together. Others hold the discus with their fingers spread out.

Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

While successful discus throwers require strength, youth track and field coaches will also look for speed, quickness, balance and explosiveness when seeking discus throwing recruits. As with the shot put, girls will throw the same size discus as women, weighing 1 kg (about 2.2 pounds). While senior men throw a 2-kg discus, and junior competitors use a 1.75-kg version, boys can expect to begin with a 1.5-kg discus. Beginners may use a wood or rubber discus while learning the sport.


Outside of youth any programs that permit its competitors to throw the javelin, the discus throw probably presents the greatest safety risk of any youth event, at least from a spectator’s point of view.

The discus is lighter than the other standard youth throwing implement, the shot, but the discus is more difficult to control and travels much faster. Even at the elite level, the discus is thrown from within a cage, to protect spectators from errant tosses. Once throwers begin using the full rotational technique, they should always throw from within a cage.


Throwers must learn the proper grip before beginning any other discus drills. The discus is neither held, nor thrown, like a frisbee, despite its resemblance. The thrower’s palm rests on top of the discus, which is held in the fingertips. With the non-throwing hand underneath the discus for support, the top knuckles of the first four fingers (not including the thumb) will grip the side of the discus, with the fingertips overlapping the edge. The fingers may be spread evenly, or the index and middle fingers can be placed together. A beginning thrower may wish to try both grips to determine which is more comfortable.

The Throw:

The novice discus thrower will likely step to the front of the circle with the discus to practice a variety of releases. Beginning drills may include a “bowling” release, with the thrower turning clockwise, shifting his weight forward and rolling the discus as he would a bowling ball. A flip drill may involve the thrower tossing the discus through the air, underhand, similar to a softball pitch. Some coaches may have the beginning thrower kneel on her right knee and extend her left leg before throwing.

Eventually, the beginning thrower will work up to executing a full, standing throw. He’ll likely begin with his left shoulder (for a right-handed thrower) facing the target, while his hips are square to the target area and his arms extended. Standing on the balls of both feet – with his right foot slightly forward, relative to the left – he’ll throw the discus while shifting his weight from the right foot to the left. Coaches may set up a target in the middle of the field before the throw. It may also be helpful to have foul lines marked.

Moving Forward:

The thrower will gradually progress toward a full rotational technique, beginning at the back of the circle. Repetition will be a key to developing proper discus throwing technique.

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