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Basic Shot Put Preliminaries, Power Position, Delivery, and Follow-through

By Tony Dziepak, Track and Field Enthusiast





I teach my throwers to grab the shot put with both hands, fingers interlocked, with the entire inside surface of all fingers of both hands in contact with the shot. Fingers are interlocked with the sides of each finger touching the finger of the adjacent hand. Now remove one hand, and you have perfect finger spacing. Any wider than that and you risk pushing the shot of of one finger, which could hyperextend and sprain finger (usually the middle or ring finger). On the other extreme, if you have your fingers too close together, the shot is more likely to roll off above the little finger or below the pointing finger.


The shot should be in contact with the upper palm at the base of the fingers (the pads just below the fingers that sometimes get callouses when doing power cleans). However, the shot should not be in the cup of the palm below these pads.




You have to hold the shot against the neck with the thumb pointing down. The position on the neck can be somewhere below the ear lobe to somewhere below the jawbone.


The right elbow must be out, away from the body. It never should be down, close to the torso. The elbow out helps to keep the shot pushed against the neck.


Foot position


It is helpful to get a 4'x 8' piece of plywood for indoor practice. See my related page on indoor practice circle construction. It describes where to paint targets inside the circles for foot placement.


The feet should be a little wider than shoulder width, with the heels off the ground. The right foot is in the middle of the circle, and the right foot is a few inches back from the toeboard, and a few inches left of center. The entire body is facing the side.


To get the body into position, first do a side lunge over the right foot. The right foot should be "loaded" (most of the bodyweight placed on it, and bent about 45 degrees). The left leg should be only slightly bent--almost straight. Finally turn the shoulder line to the back.


To test your position, if you (hypothetically) dropped your shot from a stationary power position, it would land several inches behind your right foot.


Power Position, Delivery & Follow-through


When the shot is thrown with an approach, the thrower must transition through this power position. However, the athlete may also do a standing throw starting from the power position.


For the standing throw, lead with the hips. The hipline come around from the side to the front. Block the hips when the hips are level and square in the direction of the throw (middle of sector). Block the hips with the left leg almost straight. Right leg drive continues body momentum over the left leg.


There are sources of stretch reflex in the power position. The major source is the separation of the hip line from the shoulder line. This is maximized by driving the hips up and forward with the right leg. This stores rotational stretch in the torso. In the reflex, the shoulders follow the hips.


Another minor source of stretch reflex comes with the left arm. In the start of the power position, the shoulders face back, and the chest is closed. When the shoulders follow the hips, the thrower should also actively open the chest to the direction of the throw by moving the left arm out and back. This stretches the chest, and the reflex from the left elbow to strike back (not unlike a martial arts elbow strike to an imaginary target behind the left side) is for the right shoulder to come forward.


The arm punches through as a reaction to the shoulders. When the arm is extended, the wrist and fingers follow through with the thumb pointing down and the fingers turned out to the side.


The reverse: The body will now want to follow through. The reverse allows for maximal use of the circle real estate and the fullest extension of the body and arm over the toeboard without fouling. The reverse entails removing the left foot and placing the right foot in the same spot. When the right foot lands, it should be pointed to the left.


The side of the foot may or may not be against the toeboard. If the foot is against the toeboard, you can push your heel against the toeboard to leverage your body to keep from fouling. If the foot is back from the toeboard, you can add a quick, short hop forward to keep from fouling.


To counterbalance the arms and right shoulder over the toeboard, a straightened left leg can be raised and directed toward the rear of the circle.


Beginning (and advanced) throwers should also practice non-reverse throws, where the feet are not lifted from the power position. Beginner throwers tend to try to reverse before they complete the delivery, and this greatly shortens the acceleration path of the shot in the end of the delivery.


One final note: some gliders tend to have a slightly wider stance in the power position than spinners; however, beginners can simply assume that the power position is identical for both approach techniques.


This article is a reprint from The Throwers Page.