Track Events


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.


Track and field events are commonly known as athleticsin

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

and Asia.

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.



The long jump, formerly known as the broad jump,is con

sidered the least difficult of field events. The

most important ingredients for success in this

jump are an agile body and

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.

approach: An athlete is allowed three separate tries in this jump. Asthe runner approaches the takeoff board, he/she uses a sprinters 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.

takeoff: As soon as the runners 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.

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.

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 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 precision


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.

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.

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 jumpers 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 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, spearlike

shaft over the athlete
s shoulder at the end of an ap

proach run.

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

and extends.

5. Bring the extended leg down as your body leans backward and you prepare

to throw.

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 is perhaps the single item most often associated with field events. The discus

was 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 in

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 in

which 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

avoid injury.

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.

hammersused in the event are not traditional building tools,

but metal balls attached by a wire to a handle. The entire piece of

equipment 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

European athletes.


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 and

weight 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 with

both 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 the

description of the
Fosbury Flopunder the High Jump above).

6. Tuck your head in to avoid injury and fall over the bar to the padded area



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.


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 dramatic

as any track event.

The 2000 Olympic Gold Medal winners in Field events were as follows:

Men's Events

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

Women's Events

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 LSU

Shot Put Nanus Robberts SMU


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

complete sentences.

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
hammersused 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 sports

6. 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 mens 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