Shot Put and Discus Throw Technique

The shot put has two main styles; the glide technique and the rotational technique. The discus throw has one main technique with individual variations for each thrower. 

Glide Shot Put

The purpose of the glide shot put is to enable the thrower to get in an optimal power position and delivery position with more velocity directed into the shot than from a standing put. Gains of 10% to 20% from the standing throw are expected with an effective technical glide.

Glide Shot Put Technique Start

The thrower faces the rear of the ring in an upright position with the knees together; the left foot is placed slightly behind the right foot at the starting position. Most of the bodyweight will be on the right leg, with minimal weight on the left foot to maintain balance in the starting position.

Both arms are elevated overhead in the starting position; then, the shot is placed above the right shoulder. The wrist is bent facing upward, with the shot resting on the base of the fingers. The shot is then lowered to the neck and placed near the centerline of the body under the jaw with the elbow down.

The left arm is dropped down and extended out away from the body as the upper body bends over slightly, directing the shot over the right foot.

From the preparation position, the thrower can use simple to more complex starting movements to generate momentum.

The glide shot put technique is a linear event; keeping the shot near the center of mass will help eliminate unnecessary rotational movements associated with technical errors in the glide technique.

Glide Shot Put Starting Position

The upper body drops down from the preparation position as the lower body falls back or unseats from the waist. Next, the left leg extends and stretches across the ring as the upper body stays low. The left leg is aggressively extended while staying low, aiming for the top of the toeboard. The right leg falls down from the hip, rolling onto the heel of the foot during the extension of the left. After the left leg is extended, the right leg is actively driven toward the middle of the ring. The upper body and torso drop down during the unseating of the hips and extension of the left leg. The shot remains back over the right leg to create a long path of acceleration during the delivery phase.

The unseating action of the hips into the middle and the left leg drive will create velocity during the glide.

Coaching Note: the basic glide technique is characterized by dropping and driving from the back of the circle.

 Glide Shot Put Technique

Crouch Start

After setting up the preparation position, the crouch start is established by extending the left to the middle of the ring as the upper body is dropped over a bent right leg. The shot is lowered to just above the plane of the hips; the upper body will have a concaved curvature to set up unseating of the hips and keep the shot low in the back of the circle.

The throw is initiated by the left knee moving toward the right knee as the upper body is crouched downward, with the shot dropping below the hips. From the crouch position, the shot putter unseats, driving the left leg forcefully toward the toeboard. The left leg remains low as it moves straight back toward the front of the ring. The right leg drops and extends, the heel of the feet comes off the back of the ring last as the thrower stretches across the ring. The upper body is passive, allowing the legs to do the work.

Coaching Note: the crouch start glide technique features bunching up and shooting out of the starting position to get across the ring into the power position.

Dynamic Start

After the thrower establishes the preparation position, the left foot is placed in the middle of the ring position as the left is raised high above the head to set up the dynamic glide starting position.

The dynamic glide is initiated when the knees are brought together as the thrower rises on the toes.  The thrower aggressively drops the upper body and hips down onto the right heel as the left leg drives low and fast to the front of the ring. The left arm is swept down and back to add momentum to the glide, but then it is extended away toward the back of the circle as the thrower prepares to land in the power position. The shot remains down and back over the right foot during the glide motion.

The dynamic glide technique involves rising, dropping down, and extending as the thrower reaches the power position.

Coaching Note: the dynamic glide is a more complex skill. Still, many top gliders use this method because the shot has a longer path of acceleration, creating additional velocity that can be added during the delivery phase.

Once the athlete starts the glide across the ring, the thrower must keep the ball moving in a linear path, accelerating the implement from the back of the circle to near the middle of the circle, building momentum into the power position.

Across The Ring

After the glide motion is activated by unseating the hips and the extension of the left leg, the right leg is actively picked up and placed near the center of the ring, landing on the ball of the foot. The extended left leg is placed down near the toeboard after the right foot is actively planted on the ball of the right foot. The upper body remains passive, and back, the left arm is out away from the body and behind the right leg until the left leg is braced firmly on the ground at the front of the circle. In the power position, the feet will be slightly staggered slightly between the right foot and left foot with a heel to toe split, allowing the hips to open up during the putting action.

Glide Shot Put Power Position

There are two main styles to deliver the shot from the power position; the long-short style and the short-long style. Regardless of which glide style is used, the coach must find what technical model best works for each thrower.

Technique Variations: Long-Short and Short-Long

Long-Short Power Position

The long-short technique has a long glide phase and a narrower power position. In the long-short technique, the right foot lands in the middle of the circle turned at a 90-degree angle from the throw. The upper body is turned back, with the shoulders parallel to the toeboard.  The thrower aggressively turns the right hip as the upper body stays back, creating torque prior to the release. The left leg braces with a blocking action, as the left arm opens to the middle of the throwing sector. 

Short-Long Power Position 

The short-long style utilizes a larger throwing stance, the glide is shorter, and the power position is wider. In the short-long style, the right leg plants behind the middle of the circle with the foot turned at 100-140 degrees from the throwing area. The upper body is passive; the shot stays down with the right elbow down near or below the same level as the right hip. The throwing action starts with a lifting action of the right side as the bodyweight shifts forward.

The stance's width depends on the thrower's height; however, most short-long style gliders use 55-60% of the ring for the throwing base.

Delivery

The delivery phase starts when the thrower lands in the power position. The width of the power position varies based on the technique employed by the thrower.

In the long-short style, the thrower focuses on turning and lifting the right side together from the middle to the finish.

In the short-long style, the thrower focuses on lifting the shot from the middle of the circle into the release; minimal attention is given to the rotational aspects of the throw before the release. 

Throwing and Recovery

During the throwing action, the left leg braces and straightens, creating a solid block. The right arm extends during the throwing action with a high arm strike with the elbow up near the ear. The left arm opens to the center of the sector then pulls in toward the left shoulder as the chest lifts up; essentially, the chest and left arm meet during the blocking action.

Reverse

The reverse is part of the recovery phase after the release of the shot to ensure a fair throw. The right leg extends upward and then is driven forward against the toe board. The right foot is planted flat and parallel throwing area. If the shot putter is having trouble staying in the ring from this position, the center of gravity can be lowered for added stability and balance after the release of the shot. 

Glide Shot Put Technique Differences  

The wider base of the short-long style is more advantageous because the shot is accelerated over a longer path, especially for taller throwers.

Coaching Note: most of the top throwers employ the short-long style with a wider power position to release the shot.

Glide Shot Put Coaching Points

Back of the Circle
Unseat the hips first
Extend the left leg low to the toeboard
Drive off the right heel
The upper body is passive; the shot stays down and back

Power Position
The right foot lands at 100 to140 degrees on the ball of the foot
Left leg plants straight to brace during the blocking action
Keep the shot behind the right leg
Left arm stays long and loose

Release
Lift with the legs from the middle into the finish
Keep the shot moving upward in a straight line
Push the shot up and out with a high right elbow
Left arm opens then pulls in to meet the chest to block
Reverse with the right foot flat and parallel to the toeboard

Glide Shot Put Training Tips

  • Develop glide technique with drills and easy throws
  • Improve release mechanics with stand throws
  • Break the throw up into parts with and without releases
  • Train heavy and light implements (within 10%)
  • Focus on technique at practice
  • Stay in the ring during practice

Rotational Shot Put Technique

The rotational shot put is divided into four main components; the start, the movement across the ring, the power position, and the delivery.

Starting Position

The thrower faces the back of the circle with the feet shoulder width apart, and the knees bent. The upper body will have some forward tilt, similar to the position in a back squat.

Both arms are elevated overhead in the starting position; then, the shot is placed above the right shoulder. The wrist is bent facing upward, with the shot resting on the base of the fingers. The shot is then lowered onto the neck and placed near the ear with the elbow out. The left arm is extended out, in line with the center of the chest.

There are different types of shot put placement positions between throwers; typically, for the rotational shot put, the ball is under the ear; some throwers hold it closer to the chin, like most gliders, but it is more common for the ball to be placed further back on the neck with the rotational technique.

Coaching Note: ball placement in the rotational shot put is different than the glide shot put. With the glide technique, the shot is placed near the chin with the elbow down to help keep the ball in a linear path during the movement.

The wind up id started with the upper body rotating toward the right side, the change in weight distribution should be controlled during the wind up to develop consistency in the technique. The rhythm pattern of the throw is established during the wind up. The thrower should focus on rotating the upper body with minimal weight shift of the lower body.

The rotational shot put requires very little wind up when compared to the discus throw. The wind up can cause problems with balance and consistency; therefore, a static start or a minimal wind up is recommended for novice throwers in the rotational shot put technique.

Coaching Note: the throwers can take static start throws without a wind up to reduce movement and eliminate the chance of starting the throw off balance. Static start throws can be a good warm up before more dynamic starts in the rotational shot put.

Rotational Movement

The body weight is shifted to the left leg and dropping the knee down over the toe, then the right leg is picked up to start the momentum building phase of the throw. When the left foot reaches 90 degrees, the right leg is lifted up from the hip and knee.

After the right foot is off the ground, the right side sweeps across the body, the knee and inside of the foot will lead the lower body.

A long, high sweeping action of the right leg around the outer edge of the circle will create a greater distance between the left foot and right toe during the sweep in the back of the circle, which will result in greater rotary momentum. The left knee should be angled downward with the knee over the pushed over the toe during the sweeping movement.

The upper body should remain level and passive with the left arm inside the left knee to maintain balance and create separation during the sweeping action in the back of the circle.

Drive to The Middle

After the right leg sweeps around the outside of the circle, the right foot drives across the ring into the middle of the circle. The right leg penetrates the ring with a powerful drive upward as it accelerates forward.

Coaching Note: one common style is to drive the inside of the right foot to the middle, like a soccer kick; this will help the thrower drive forward and reduce over rotating past the middle of the ring.

The left leg should stay down with the knee bent, ready to push off toward the front of the circle as the right legs move toward the front of the circle. The shoulders should remain level during the drive to the middle; the shot stays behind the right hip, and the left arm extended left arm while remaining inside the left knee.

Coaching Note: the thrower should think 'push off' with the left leg when the right leg starts to go forward after sweeping around the back of the circle.

Power Position Set Up

As the right leg moves past the middle of the ring, the right hip and foot should be pre-turned to set up the landing position. The left leg actively pushes off out of the back of the circle; the thrower will bring the knees together in the middle of the circle to help develop more velocity and create more torque in the power position. The shot remains behind the hip as the right foot touches down past the middle of the circle. The shot can rise up slightly into the middle of the circle, similar to the high point in the discus, just not an extreme. The left arm will drop down into the middle of the circle, slowing down the upper body creating additional separation from the lower body.

Into the Power Position

The right foot will contact the center of the circle between 280 to 340 degrees, while the left foot is airborne near 90 degrees. Once the right foot has made contact, it must continue to rotate, turning on the ball of the foot. The left leg should be aggressively planted in the front of the circle. The shot should remain behind the right foot, and the left arm should stay down until the left foot touches in the front of the ring.

Once the left foot touches down, the main acceleration phase of the throw begins. The largest gains in implement velocity occur after the thrower reaches the power position.

Even in single support (one foot on the ground), the right side should keep turning; when the left foot plants, the right foot should be approximately 90 degrees.

The acceleration of the shot and body movements during the preparation phase and momentum building phase set up an active throwing position to effectively apply force into the shot during the delivery of the throw.

Power Position Movement

The thrower actively turns and lifts the right side into the left side of the lower body to create a blocking action. The right side lifts and turns toward the front of the circle while the thrower keeps the shot behind the hip. The left arm opens up to the center of the sector to set up the final blocking action of the left side during the release.

Most of the bodyweight should stay centered during the lifting and turning action prior to the release.

 

Coaching Note: the thrower will have some weight shift forward from the power position into the release. The thrower must keep the weight back over the right side as long as possible during the lifting action before the delivery phase.

The power position base is narrower in the rotational shot put. The same heel-to-toe relationship as in the glide shot put technique is required to allow the hips to open up during the delivery phase.

Delivery

The right side of the body extends upward to complete the throw as the left side blocks. The thrower explosively lifts off the ground, the horizontal momentum created by driving across the ring is now converted into vertical velocity.

The put is completed by lifting the shot upward then out over the toeboard; during the arm strike, the elbow is high, and the thumb is down. The left arm is pulled in toward the shoulder as the chest is driven up during the blocking action. The vertical lift increases the height of release and sets up the recovery action after the release.

After the put is completed, the thrower will perform a reverse, bringing the right foot forward to the front of the ring after the shot is released. The right foot is planted flat and parallel throwing area; then the thrower can rotate around the right foot or execute other movements to stay in the ring. Corrective actions such as lowering the center of gravity or guiding the body away from the throwing sector can redirect the thrower's momentum to assist with recovery after the release of the shot.

Rotational Shot Put Coaching Points

Start and Wind Up
Start with the bodyweight balanced before the wind up
The wind up should be controlled with little weight shift
Press the shot into the neck with the elbow up
Extend the left arm out and inside the left knee 

Rotational Movement
Develop a consistent pattern of acceleration
Drop the left knee down as the right leg is lifted up
Sweep the right leg out long, lead with the inside of the foot
Stay level with the upper body

Drive to The Middle
Sweep the right leg out then forward
Keep the left knee bent
Keep the shot behind the right hip
Keep the left arm long

Power Position Set Up (right side pre-turn, left leg push)
Pre-turn the right foot after it passes the middle of the circle
Push the left leg off the back of the circle aggressively
Elevate the shot slightly into the middle of the circle
Drop the left arm down near the middle of the circle

Power Position (single support to double support)
Keep turning the right foot in the middle of the circle
Snap the left leg to the front of the ring
Keep the shot put back behind the hip and right foot
Extend the left arm out after it drops down

Power Position (both feet planted)
Turn the right leg to 90 degrees
Straighten the left leg to block
Keep the shoulders level and back

Delivery
Lift and turn the right side aggressively
Strong left side block
Push the shot up and out with a high right elbow
Reverse and regain balance during the recovery

Rotational Shot Training Tips

  • Develop technique with drills
  • Improve release mechanics with stand throws and ½ turns
  • Break the throw up into parts with and without releases
  • Train timing and rhythm with throws at various intensities
  • Create vertical lift at the finish with a proper reverse
  • Focus on technique at practice

Glide Versus Rotational

The glide technique is better suited for tall, largely built athletes. The glide has more consistent results and is easier to execute. On the negative side, the glide has limited force application and speed development across the ring. For example, a good technical glider thrower can add 10% from the standing throw to the glide, whereas an excellent technical rotational thrower can add over 20% from a stand throw.

Athletes of all sizes and strength levels can use the rotational shot put technique. The greater and longer application of force and momentum produces longer throws in the rotational shot put. The shot's path is not as linear in the rotational shot put as the glide causing inconsistent release patterns. However, the rhythm of the rotational shot put technique can be challenging to master, especially for athletes with limited practice schedules.

Discus Throw Technique

The discus throw is divided into four main phases; the start/wind up, the movement across the ring, the power position, and the delivery.

Start and Wind Up

The thrower faces the back of the circle with the feet shoulder width apart, with the knees bent and the arms down by the sides. The preparation position will demonstrate some forward tilt, similar to a back squat position with the lower body. The discus is gripped with two to three fingers curled together near the distal interphalangeal joint with the palm firmly pressed against the implement.

The discus thrower’s body weight is distributed evenly, with the feet planted flat before the preliminary movements begin.

The throw starts when the right arm moves toward the left side, between the left hip and shoulder, the left hand guides the discus to the left. The discus is brought behind the right hip and is locked into place as the left arm extends out and across the body.

The left arm should be long and straight at shoulder height inside the left knee as the athlete brings the discus to the right side during the wind up. The lower body should remain stable with minimal weight shift for beginning throwers during the wind up; one preliminary swing is enough to establish the rhythm of the throw.

Coaching Note: the wind up is very individualistic, but it should be simple and consistent for novice throwers.

The wind up sets up the acceleration pattern and rhythm of the throw.

Most of the speed developed in a throw is created during the other phases of the throw, not during the wind up; higher turning speed in the back of the circle does not translate to higher release velocity.

Coaching Note: some advanced throwers use a more aggressive well-timed wind up to the right side to gain momentum and additional torque between the upper and lower body at the start of the throw.

Rotational Movement

After the wind up, the throw is initiated with a weight shift to the left side. The left knee drops down as the right leg is lifted and pushed forward to create separation between the knees. The right leg then sweeps out and around the back of the circle; the right leg should remain long, with the foot leading the sweeping action. The left leg should stay bent with the knee over the pushed over the toe during the sweeping movement. The shoulders need to remain level with the discus behind the right hip, and the left arm should stay inside the left knee while moving from the back of the circle into the drive portion of the throw.

Coaching Note: individual differences dictate the spacing between the knees out of the back of the circle; a quicker athlete may want to keep the feet tighter to generate more velocity; a taller athlete may use a wider right leg to take advantage of the thrower’s long levers.

Drive to The Middle

After the right leg sweeps around the outside of the circle, the thrower drives aggressively toward the front of the circle. The right leg will extend out and drive forward while staying long with the right toe pointed upward. The right leg will remain high and long during the drive to the middle. The left leg should stay low and flexed, ready to push off toward the front of the circle. The discus will stay behind the hip during the drive to the middle; the left arm will stay inside the left knee; the shoulders should remain level during the drive to the middle.

Power Position Set Up

As the right leg drives forward past the middle of the ring, the right foot is pre-turned to set up the landing position. The left leg will push off out of the back of the circle, adding more velocity before landing in the power position. The right arm is elevated, with the discus reaching its highest point in the center of the sector as the left arm is dropped down into the middle of the circle. The discus remains behind the hip during the high point of the throw as the right foot touches down near the middle of the circle. Keeping the discus high and behind the right hip will develop more discus velocity later in the throw because more separation between the hips and upper body (discus).

The elevation of the right arm and discus help create an orbit that can add to the velocity of the throw, but the thrower needs to have the correct timing for the orbit to be effective. Generating an orbit is a more advanced technique.

Into the Power Position

When the pre-turned right foot touches down, the left leg will be off the ground near the center of the ring. The pre-turned right leg will land between 280 to 340 degrees, while the left foot is airborne near 90 degrees. The thrower can keep the knees together in the middle to accelerate the landing of the left leg in the front of the circle.
Coaching Note: when the legs are tighter together in the middle, the thrower can create more speed in the lower body, which will result in more separation between the lower body and upper body.

After the right leg makes contact near the middle of the circle, it is actively turned from approximately 280-340 degrees to 90 degrees. The left leg is snapped down to the front of the circle aggressively, landing straight as possible to prepare for the blocking action during delivery.

The discus moves from a higher position to a lower position during the right foot turning action in the middle. The discus drops from the 180-degree high point at the right foot touch down to 270 degrees when the left leg plants. The discus will be at shoulder level throw at 270 degrees when the thrower reaches the power position. After the left arm drops down during the high point of the discus, the arm is extended out, slowing the rotational movement of the upper body.

Coaching Note: the main focus of the rotational movements in the discus technique is to set up an active throwing position to accelerate the implement into the delivery of the throw.

Power Position

The sooner the athlete can get into an effective power position; the faster force can be applied to the discus to create more release velocity. The discus thrower’s main biomechanical source of speed during the early phases of the throw is rotary momentum, created from the back of the circle into the power position.

From the power position, the discus thrower actively turns the right side of the lower body into the left leg block. The shoulders rotate forward, trailing the lower body; separating the upper body and lower body will create a long pull on the discus. As the right leg starts to turn toward the front of the throw, the left arm opens up to the center of the sector to set up the final blocking action of the left side during the release of the discus.

Coaching Note: Most of the thrower's bodyweight should stay back over the right side until the thrower is ready to release the discus.

Delivery

The right side of the body rotates to complete the throw as the left leg blocks. The throwing arm stays long and level during the discus release as the left arm is pulled toward the chest to accelerate the throwing side of the body. The discus thrower feels a long, powerful pull on the discus as the right side finishes the turning action as the left side braces.

A proper delivery in the discus must include an active right side that turns the middle of the circle into the finish with a solid left side block from the power position into the release.

There are two types of finishes in the discus throw, the non-reverse and the reverse. Some throwers throw without reversing the feet while others do lift off the ground; there is disagreement if throwing with fixed feet is more effective than throwing with a reverse.

In the non-reverse, the thrower’s feet stay fixed on the ground during the release of the throw.

With a reverse, the thrower lifts off the ground during the release of the throw. After the discus is released, the right foot is brought forward to the front of the ring. The reverse is part of the recovery action after the release of the discus.

Coaching Note: there is a biomechanical debate about the longer path of acceleration with fixed feet or the increase in release height with the reverse. The coach must find the technique that consistently provides high level results for the discus thrower.

Discus Throw Coaching Points

Start and Wind Up
Start with the bodyweight balanced before the wind up
The wind up should be controlled with little weight shift
Get the discus behind the right hip during the wind up
Extend the left arm out and inside the left knee

Rotational Movement
Drop the left knee down as the right leg is lifted up
Sweep the right leg out long, lead with the inside of the foot
Keep the discus behind the hip
Keep the left arm long and inside the left knee

Drive to The Middle
Sweep the right leg out then forward
Keep the left knee bent
Keep the discus behind the hip
Keep the left arm long

Power Position Set Up (right side pre-turn, left leg push)
Pre-turn the right foot into the middle of the circle
Push the left leg off the back of the circle aggressively
Elevate the discus into the high point
Drop the left arm down near the middle of the circle

Power Position (single support to double support)
Keep turning the right foot it is planted in the middle
Snap the left leg to the front of the ring
Discus starts to drop from the high point (180 degrees)
Left arm extends out after dropping down

Power Position (both feet planted)
Turn the right leg to 90 degrees
Straighten the left leg to block
Keep the discus behind the shoulder when it reaches 270 degrees
Open the left arm to the center of the sector

Delivery
Turn the right side aggressively into the finish
Hold the left side block
Release the discus near shoulder level
Pull in the left arm to meet the chest during the block
Regain balance during the recovery of the throw

Discus Throw Training Tips

  • Develop technique with drills and easy throw\
  • Improve release mechanics with stand throws and ½ turns
  • Break the throw up into parts with and without releases
  • Train timing and rhythm with throws at various intensities
  • Focus on technique at practice
  • Stay in the ring during training

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