How to Measure the Distance Thrown in Shot Put

21st European Athletics Championships - Day Three

The shot put is one of many events held during a track and field competition. The winner of the event is the athlete who has put or pushed the shot the farthest. Because distance is the main factor in determining the winner, precise measurements are required. To ensure measurement accuracy from one track and field competition to the next, specific measuring guidelines and methods must be followed.

Inspect the competitor's hand and shot. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the shot must be solid and made of brass or any metal not softer than brass. It must be spherical in shape with a smooth finish. The competitor cannot wear a glove and cannot tape two or more fingers together. The fingers must be able to move individually.

Watch as the athlete makes the throw to ensure that a foul has not been committed. The shot must be held in one hand near the neck or chin and pushed from the shoulder. Athletes are not allowed to touch either the stop board or metal rim or the ground outside the throwing circle during the throw. The athlete must stay in the throwing circle until the shot has landed, and then he must exit the rear of the circle.

Determine whether the throw is legal. To be eligible for a measurement, the shot must land within the 65-degree sector lines. If it lands on or outside the sector lines, it is a foul. Foul throws are not measured but still count as one of the allotted attempts.

Locate the mark where the shot landed and place the zero end of the measuring tape at the impact point nearest the throwing circle. Stretch the tape back over the top of the stop board and through the center of the throwing circle. Take a reading at the inside edge of the stop board. Measurements can be taken in either metric or standard scales. International events typically use metric measurements, and standard scale measurements are more common in the United States. Take the measurement to the nearest lower centimeter or 1/4 inch.


If an electronic measuring device is used, ensure its accuracy prior to the event. Take several test measurements with a steel measuring tape and calibrate the device according to the instruction manual. Avoid using fiberglass measuring tapes because they stretch out over time.