Equipment Used in Track & Field
If you’ve ever competed in or watched a track-and-field event, you might not have realized just how much work and preparation goes into putting it all together. In addition to getting the athletes and events organized, officials have to worry about the various pieces of equipment necessary to conduct a track-and-field meet.
Starting blocks serve as one of the most important pieces of equipment for track events of 400 meters and shorter, according to USA Track and Field. Officials use starting blocks not as an aid to runners, but as a means for protecting the surface of the track. Most starting blocks consist of foot pads that runners can adjust based on their preferred starting position.
Hurdles is a specific track event that combines the skill of running with the ability to jump over stationary objects. USA Track and Field regulates not only the height of the hurdles for different events, but the space in between the individual hurdles. Hurdle heights range anywhere between .84 meters for women’s events to 1.067 meters for men’s events, according to USA Track and Field. In men’s 110-meter competition, the distance between hurdles is 9.14 meters, up from 8.5 meters in the women’s 100-meter event.
The discus event features the use of a rounded disc, challenging competitors to see who can throw the object the farthest. Like other events, equipment regulations specify the size and weight and makeup of the discus. Rules specify the discus be made of wood or other similar material with a metal rim, and may be either solid material or hollow. The weight specifications range anywhere between .75 and 2 kilograms, depending on the competitor’s preference, but shall have an outside diameter ranging between 166 and 221 millimeters.
It might seem just like a long stick with a pointy end, but track-and-field regulations specify that the javelin weigh between 400 and 800 grams, with a minimum length of 750 millimeters and a maximum length of 1060 millimeters. Rules stipulate that the javelin must be made of metal or other similar material, with three main parts: the head, shaft and cord grip to aid the player in throwing.
The shot put is an event that requires players to throw a large metal ball as far as possible down the field. The ball, known as the “shot,” is made of solid metal and may have a latex covering on the outside to assist competitors with their grip. For men’s competition, the shot weighs 7.26 kilograms. For women, the shot weighs 4 kilograms.
James Patterson specializes in health and wellness topics, having written and produced material for the National Institutes of Health, the President's Cancer Panel and an Inc. 500 Hall of Fame company. He is also a former sportswriter with writing experience in basketball, baseball, softball, golf and other popular sports.