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Track and Field Events: Jumps and Throws

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Track and Field Events: Jumps and Throws

Brittany Reese won three long jump World championships - two outdoors and one indoors - from 2009-11.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Jumps:

High Jump: As with all jumping events, competitors must combine speed – to generate lift – with jumping technique. Jumpers may approach the bar from either side, and will land on a large, generally inflated cushion. In between they must clear the 4-meter-long bar without knocking it off of its supports. The bar will originally be set at a low height, at which competitors may choose to jump, or pass to another height. The bar is raised a predetermined amount after each round. Each competitor who either clears or passes a height advances to the next round. Competitors are eliminated after missing three consecutive jumps and scored according to the greatest height they clear. First-place ties are broken on countback – by counting the competitor’s misses during the competition. If competitors remain tied for first they may engage in a jump-off to determine a winner.

Read more about high jump technique.

Pole Vault: Pole vaulters have many similar characteristics as high jumpers, but require excellent upper body strength as well. Each vaulter sprints down the runway and plants the pole – typically made from fiberglass or carbon fiber – into the vaulting box, then catapults himself over the crossbar and onto the landing mat. As with high jumping, vaulters may touch the bar, as long as it doesn’t fall. Round-by-round scoring rules are the same as for the high jump, just at much greater heights. As with all the jumping events, the pole vault takes place during both indoor and outdoor meets.

Long Jump: The competitors sprint down the runway and lift up when they hit the takeoff bar, landing in a sand pit. If any part of the runner’s foot goes past the takeoff bar the jumper is called for a foul and receives no score for the round. Distance is measured from the end of the takeoff bar to the closest mark made the jumper in the pit. Competitions go a maximum of six rounds. At major six-round events, such as the Olympics or World Championships, only the top eight competitors after three rounds continue to finish the final three rounds. The single longest jump wins the competition.

Read more about long jump technique.

Triple Jump: This event was once termed the “hop, skip and jump,” which is a more accurate description of what the athletes do than “triple jump.” The event begins like a long jump, with competitors dashing down the runway and leaping from a takeoff board. But instead of jumping directly into the landing pit, the competitors land on another runway and immediately push off with one foot, then land on the same foot. They then “skip” onto their opposite foot, from which they take off again, into the landing area. The event is scored identically to the long jump.

Throws:

Shot Put: It’s obvious that the throwing events all require strength, but adept footwork is important as well. Shot putters must hold the shot close to their neck or chin at all times prior to release. The round metal shot used by senior men weighs 7.26 kilograms, while the women’s weighs 4 kg. Both genders must remain inside a throwing circle measuring 2.135 meters in diameter. Shot putters will employ one of two techniques, either the simple “glide” method, in which they hop forward on their back leg, shift their weight forward and thrust the shot into the air, or the rotational technique, in which the shot putter spins to gain momentum before releasing the shot. Competitors must exit the circle to the rear after throwing the shot to avoid fouling. Scoring rules are the same as with the long and triple jumps – the longest single throw wins the competition. The shot put is the only throwing event that's held both indoors and outdoors.

Read more about shot put glide technique and shot put rotational technique.

Discus Throw: Discus throwers use a larger throwing circle than shot putters, with a diameter of 2.5 meters, and throw a mostly metal disc. Senior women throw a 1-kg discus, while the men’s discus weighs 2 kg. Otherwise, a discus competition looks like, and is scored like, a shot put competition in which all competitors use the rotational technique. The only other difference is the large metal throwing cage that partially encircles the competitors to protect spectators from a wildly thrown discus.

Read more about discus throw technique.

Javelin Throw: The javelin is the only throwing competition in which the athletes don’t throw from a circle. Instead, throwers dash down a runway to generate momentum for their throws, but must not cross the foul line, even after hurling the javelin. The spear-like javelin used by senior men weighs 800 grams; the women’s version is 600 g. Scoring is the same as all other throwing events: six rounds of competition, with the longest throw winning.

Read more about javelin throwing technique.

Hammer Throw: Today’s “hammer” is actually a metal ball attached to a steel wire with a rigid handle for a grip. The men’s device weighs 7.26 kg, the women’s 4 kg. Throwers use the same circle as shot putters, as well as the same cage that discus throwers employ. Like discus throwers and some shot putters, hammer throwers spin within the circle to generate momentum before releasing the hammer.

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