Field events are competitions which involve jumping and
throwing: the long jump, the high jump, the javelin throw, the
discus throw, the hammer throw, the pole vault and the shotput.
HISTORY OF FIELD SPORTSTrack and field events are commonly known as “athletics” in
England and on the European continent. Such events are among
the oldest form of competitive sports ever recorded. These
events were encouraged among young athletes in ancient Egypt
The Olympic Games, which are held every four years, showcase
the talents of international athletes who specialize in
track and field events. Other competitions for track and field
participants include the European, Commonwealth, African,
Pan-American and Asian competitions.
HOW THE SPORTS ARE PLAYED
THE LONG JUMPThe long jump, formerly known as “the broad jump,” is con
sidered the least difficult of field events. The
most important ingredients for success in thisjump are an agile body and “springy” legs,
which is a popular way of describing legs
whose muscles are capable of the kind of explosive
power required to hurl the mass of the
body a long distance.
The long jump requires the athlete to jump
from a takeoff board and leap into the air. There
are four basic parts to this jump: the approach,
the takeoff, the airborne position and the landing.The approach: An athlete is allowed three separate tries in this jump. Asthe runner approaches the takeoff board, he/she uses a sprinter’s stride with
the knees kept high and the arms moving back and forth rapidly. Achieving
the correct approach speed is critical. An approach that is too fast or too
slow will adversely affect the final jump.The takeoff: As soon as the runner’s toe hits the takeoff area or toe board,
his or her body should be held straight. The runner then moves forward and
upward. The takeoff leg comes out while the opposite leg moves forward
and the arms and head swing up.The airborne position: Once the runner is in the air, the arms must be kept
up without allowing them to fall behind the body. The legs should remain
in a semi-sitting position, although they should not be too far forward.The landing: As the runner lands, the back is straight but
not rigid, with head and arms held forward. Falling with the
legs forward is essential since the jump is measured from
the edge of the takeoff board to where the heels break the
surface of the sand. If a runner falls back at this point, the
jump is measured from the point where he or she fell.
THE HIGH JUMP
The goal of the high jump is to go over a thirteen-foot-long raised bar without knocking
it over. A good high jumper needs two main attributes: excellent leaping skills and precisioncontrol.
High jumpers get three attempts to finish the jump. There are three common techniques
for high jumping: the scissors kick, the Fosbury flop and the straddle roll.The scissors kick is taught to beginners since it is considered the easiest of
the three moves to learn. The runner approaches the high bar from the right,
using seven to eight steps in his or her approach. Then he/she jumps with a
push from the left leg as the right leg moves to cross the bar. The left leg
then follows the right leg over the bar. The jumper will appear to spectators
to be in a sitting position for the split second while in the air.The Fosbury flop was created in 1968 by U. S. Olympic champion Dick
Fosbury. As the jumper moves toward the high bar, he or she places a foot
parallel to the bar. The jumper then
springs up, twisting the back toward
the bar, arches the back, and
arcs over the bar to fall backward,
head first. Once the hips clear the
bar, the chin is tucked into the chest
to help protect the head on landing.
A large foam rubber pit is used
to break the fall of all jumpers using
this move.In the straddle roll, the jumper’s stomach faces the ground as it goes across
the bar. The arms are tucked in and the trailing leg is bent at the knee. The
head and hips are rotated as the jumper goes over the bar.
In all high jumps, a coach should always be present to oversee practice sessions. The
high jumps are complicated to perform correctly, so it is important that all young athletes
be properly supervised during practice.
THE JAVELIN THROW
The javelin throw is one of the oldest field events known
to humankind. It was introduced in the Olympic Games of
708 B.C. as a direct descendent of spear-throwing contests.
The javelin throw involves hurling a long, hollow, spearlikeshaft over the athlete’s shoulder at the end of an ap
Javelin throwing looks deceptively simple to the casual spectator. However, it is quite
difficult to execute correctly. Many times, spectators have been injured from incorrect
throws, so it is important to exercise caution in this event.
The javelin rests in the palm of the hand, held firmly but not tightly by the fingers. The
thumb and index fingers are the most important throwing fingers. The throw itself can
be broken down into seven basic steps. As it is with a golf swing, these seven parts of the
javelin throw should appear as a smooth, flowing movement:
1. Sprint forward with the javelin, maintaining good balance as you move
2. Drop the arm holding the javelin to about waist level.
3. Keep the arm holding the javelin bent as you point the javelin up and away
from the body.
4. Twist your body as you plant one leg firmly while the other leg crosses over
5. Bring the extended leg down as your body leans backward and you prepare
6. Push off with your back foot as
your body and arm move forward.
7. Throw the javelin in one fluid
motion. Note that the actual release
of the javelin is a whiplike
motion. The javelin must
land with the point in the
ground, although it does not have to stick in the ground.
THE DISCUS THROW
The discus is perhaps the single item most often associated with field events. The discuswas mentioned as early as the 8th century B.C. in accounts of athletic contests. Today it
continues to be an important part of the Olympic Games.
The discus is a four-pound, saucer-shaped object. A two-pound discus is usually used inwomen’s competitions. It is thrown from a circle measuring about eight feet in diameter.
Here is how to throw the discus:
1. Start the throw facing the rear of the circle. Hold the
discus with the index finger and thumb around the
outer edge and the palm against the center of the discus.
You must remain inside the throwing circle at all
times; otherwise, the throw is not considered legal.
2. Spin your body while completing one and a half turns
before releasing the discus.
3. Then throw the discus with a snapping motion of the
arm. Despite its weight, a properly thrown discus will seem to sail through
the air like a Frisbie. Each thrower performs the event three times.
Like the javelin throw, the discus throw looks simple but is hard to do well. The first man
to throw the discus over 200 feet was Al Oerter at the 1956 Olympic Games. Oerter set
four world records in this event.
The shot is a 16-pound metal ball (9 pounds for women). It is not
thrown; instead the arm is extended at the elbow (straightened) to
push or heave the shot away at a 45 degree angle. The shot is pushed
or heaved from a circle seven feet in diameter. Since the ball is so
heavy, many shot putters practice weight training in preparation for
this event. Remember that you need explosive power to do the shot
put. Consequently, if you weight train for the shot put, you should
work not for strength alone, for but fast, explosive power in pressing
movements such as the bench press. Shot putters tend to be
among the larger athletes in track and field events; some weigh up
to 300 pounds. Here is how to do the shot put:
1. Hold the shot in the palm of your hand, with the elbow bent and the shot
resting against your neck, just below the ear. Face opposite the direction inwhich you will aim the shot.
2. Spin your body 180 degrees across the circle in order to gain momentum.
Be careful to turn your head away from the shot during the turn in order to
3. Extend your arm with an explosively fast movement, and snap the shot into
the air with a snap of your fingers.
Many professional athletes consider this the most difficult of
the events to learn. The hammer throw requires great strength
as well as precision.The “hammers” used in the event are not traditional building tools,
but metal balls attached by a wire to a handle. The entire piece ofequipment weights 16 pounds. Here’s how to do the hammer throw:
1. Grasp the handle and swing the hammer around your
body a minimum of four times to gain momentum.
2. When you have gained maximum momentum and are at
precisely the point in your spin that will send the hammer
in the right direction, release the hammer into the
air. Timing is everything in this throw.
This event was one dominated by Irish Americans. John Flanagan set
17 world records and won three Olympic events between the years
1900 and 1908. After 1930, this event came to be dominated by Eastern
Pole vaulting requires superior upper body strength, balance, control, agility and great
courage. In short, it is an extremely difficult event, requiring hours of gymnastics andweight training in preparation for its performance. Here’s how to do the pole vault:
1. Hold the 16-foot-long fiberglass pole with both hands.
2. As you start your run toward the crossbar, keep a firm grip on the pole withboth hands. Lift the pole to a horizontal position. One arm should be bent at
the elbow, and held against the body
with the hand near the ear as it grips
the pole. The other arm should be bent
at the elbow but held out away from the
body, with the hand still gripping the
3. As you approach the crossbar, drop the
tip of the pole and securely place it into
the ground at the spot prepared for it.
4. Kick off with your legs, and at the same
time pull up with your arms so that your
body makes an arc as the pole helps
propel you through the air.
5. As you go over the crossbar, push the
pole backwards so that it does not knock
over the crossbar. Most vaulters go over the crossbar backwards (see thedescription of the “Fosbury Flop” under the High Jump above).
6. Tuck your head in to avoid injury and fall over the bar to the padded area
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
Field event clothing is traditionally loose-fitting to allow
for maximum freedom of movement. Tank tops
are standard for men, leotards or shirts for women.
Shorts are standard for both.
FIELD EVENTS NOTES AND NEWS
In recent track and field event news, 2001 saw records
fall in track and solid performances by participants in
field events. Track usually dominates the track and field
news, but if you have ever watched field events on television
or in person, you know that they can be as dramaticas any track event.
The 2000 Olympic Gold Medal winners in Field events were as follows:
Event Contestant Country
High Jump Sergey Kliugin Russia
Pole Vault Nick Hysong Phoenix
Long Jump Ivan Pedroso Cuba
Triple Jump Jonathan Edwards Britain
Shot Put Arsi Harju Finland
Discus Throw Birgilijus Alenkna Lithuania
Hammer Throw Szymon Ziolkowski Poland
Javelin Throw Jan Zelezny Czech Republic
Decathlon Erki Nool Estonia
Event Contestant Country
High Jump Yelnea Yelesina Russia
Long Jump Heike Drechsler Germany
Triple Jump Tereza Marinova Bulgaria
Shot Put Astrid Kumbernuss Germany
Discus Throw Ellina Zvereva Belarus
Javelin Throw Trine Hattestad Norway
Heptathlon Denise Lewis Britain
Selected NCAA Championships in 2001 include:
Pole Vault Andrea Dutoit Arizona
Long Jump Brianna Glenn Arizona
Triple Jump Shelly-Ann Gallimore Auburn
Shot Put Christina Tolson UCLA
Pole Vault Dennis Kholev USC
Long Jump Savante Stringfellow Mississippi
Triple Jump Walter Davis LSUShot Put Nanus Robberts SMU
WHAT TO DO:
The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding
of field sports. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not
enough room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in
1. What physical benefits can be obtained from participating in field events?
2. Name the seven typical field events in competition.
3. What are the chief physical requirements for success in the long jump?4. What are the four basic parts to the long jump?
5. What is the goal of the high jump?
6. What is the scissors kick? the Fosbury Flop? the straddle roll?
7. Describe the six steps by which the javelin throw is executed.8. What are the “hammers” used in the hammer throw?
9. What are the physical requirements for pole vaulting?10. How is the pole vault executed?
Short Answer Questions:1. One must have this at the maximun when throwing the hammer
2. Height in feet of high jump bar
3. First part of the long jump
4. English name for track and field events
5. Number of events in field sports6. Weight in pounds of the men’s discus
7. This jump is also known as the broad jump
8. Invented a high jump style named the “flop”9. Weight in pounds of the men’s shot put
10. This roll is a type of high jump style
11. This event is similar to throwing a spear
12. Last part of the long jump
13. Kind of power needed for the long jump
14. The javelin rests here before the throw
15. Second part of the long jump
16. Type of high jump kick
17. Type of legs needed for the long jump
18. J. Flanagan holds this many hammer-throw records
19. Inside a javelin
20. The pole _____ event has a high bar