Monthly Archives: October 2022

5 Shot Put Rules You Should Know

Basic Shot Put Rules That Are Often Misunderstood

Here are five common shot put rules and their interpretations that often cause confusion and are misunderstood by many. All are relevant to young athletes involved in most grassroots shot putting competitions.

1. An Athlete Can Enter the Circle From Any Direction

Athletes may enter the throwing circle from any direction. This includes stepping over or on the top of the stop board at the front of the circle.

After completing the throw, an athlete must exit from the rear half of the throwing circle.

2. The Shot Must Be Put From Close To The Neck Or Chin

World Athletics rules state that: “At the time an athlete takes a stance in the circle to commence a put, the shot shall be in close proximity to the neck or chin and the hand shall not be dropped below this position during the action of putting. The shot shall not be taken behind the line of the shoulders.”

In the action of throwing, an athlete might turn their head away from the shot, leaving a gap between the shot and the neck or chin. If the shot is not dropped or pulled away, the athlete should not be penalised. If the hand remains stationary, then the delivery is a fair one. The deciding factor is the hand.

3. The Throw Must Be Completed From Within The Circle

The shot put must start and finish from within the circle.

Firstly, this means that no “run-up” can occur from outside the circle. Thus, an athlete needs to start their throw from a stationary position fully inside the circle. A stationary position means that after entering the circle and before starting their throw, the athlete needs to be in a stance in which both feet are in firm contact with the surface of the circle. The arms or hands don’t need to be stationary.

Secondly, after they have stepped into the circle and begun to make a throw, the athlete cannot touch the ground outside the circle. After completing their throw their first touch with the ground outside the circle must be outside the circle’s back half.

However, if an athlete is using a rotational throwing technique it is not considered a failure if an incidental touch occurs during the first rotation at a point outside the back half of the circle, and it doesn’t provide any propulsion or leverage. This situation will be uncommon at a grassroots level, where it is rare to see young throwers using a rotational throwing technique.

4. Athletes Can’t Touch The Top Of The Stop Board

Shot put circles feature a “stop board” or “toe board” at the front of the circle. The top of the stop board is considered as being outside the circle. Touching the top of it in any way during the throwing attempt will result in a foul being called.

An athlete may touch the inside of the stop board and the inside of the rim around the circle if there is one.

5. The Shot Must Land Entirely Within The Sector

A shot that lands outside either sector line is a foul. A shot landing on the sector line is considered as being “out” and cannot be measured. This is different from many other sports where a ball landing on the line is considered as “in” (e.g. tennis).

The shot’s landing is determined by where the implement first hits the ground. If it lands entirely within the sector and then rolls outside the sector, it is considered a fair throw.


  1. An Athlete Can Enter the Circle From Any Direction
  2. The Shot Must Be Put From Close To The Neck Or Chin
  3. The Throw Must Be Completed From Within The Circle
  4. Athletes Can’t Touch The Top Of The Stop Board
  5. The Shot Must Land Entirely Within The Sector

The degree to which some of these rules are applied will often be at the discretion of the local officials. Any leniency afforded will usually reflect the level of the competition and the age and experience of the young athletes.

Further reading

World Athletics Book of Rules

How To Teach Shot Put To Young Athletes E-Book (plus bonus cheat sheet) by Coaching Young Athletes

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.

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