Rotational Shot Put Technique Explained

The shot put event originates from heavy stone throwing competitions in England and Scotland during the 15th century and was included in the first modern Olympiad of 1896 in Athens. Today there are two main techniques used, a linear movement which is a backwards shift across the circle and the non-linear or rotational technique.


Think of all throws having three phases, a beginning, middle and end and in each phase there are several sections. In the case of the following linear technique the beginning is the stand and sit followed by the middle, the glide and turn, and the end is the delivery. For the rotational shot the beginning is the pre-flight, the middle the take off and transition and the end is the release

Within these sections are the behaviour goals we are looking to achieve in pursuit of good technique. The key to being successful at both techniques is to develop good rhythm i.e.1-2,3 turn the feet and punch the shot, with the angle of delivery slightly lower in the rotational shot

The following sequences are written for a right-handed thrower (12 o’clock is the back of the circle, so the front is 6)


  • Stand at the back of the circle facing 12 with feet just slightly more than shoulder width apart
  • Hold the shot in the right hand with an even finger spread with thumb on downside
  • Do not hold in the palm of the hand, but instead on the fingers
  • The elbow of the throwing arm should be at shoulder height in the 12/3 position i.e. face & chest looking at 12 and the elbow pointing to 3
  • Think neck-ball-elbow in line (shot is often held a tad higher in the neck than with the linear technique)
  • Maintaining this position until delivery will help the force generated go in the direction of the throw
  • Slowly shift body weight onto the right foot rotating the shoulders so the right elbow is pointing between 6 & 7 and the shoulders are parallel to the ground
  • Then allow body weight to pivot back onto the left foot (toes) and move to 80–90% of normal height i.e. move from high to low shifting body weight from the right foot to the left foot by actively turning the left foot
  • Don’t lead with the left arm, instead allow the right leg to come around the body
  • Right foot needs to be picked up before the right shoulder passes
  • Keep the right shoulder behind the right hip

Take Off

  • Long sweeping right leg into the flight phase
  • Wider radius gives better angular momentum at take off
  • Increase height in flight phase will mean dropping onto the right leg will require good leg strength
  • Lead the right foot forward into a step forward
  • Don’t look down at feet, instead use a personal horizon
  • Push off the left foot and step into middle of circle (falling) with gaze looking forward
  • Trunk is more upright than glide technique


  • At rear (right) foot touch down the right knee needs to be greatly flexed and grounds the foot causing athlete to both turn and lift while in single support
  • The shorter the time between rear foot touch down & front (left) foot touch down will allow maximal effort, too early or late will result in inefficient use of power
  • Once the right foot lands keep it turning throughout the throw and allow the left leg to come underneath and ground. i.e. sweep the left (block) leg back on the turn (knees should pass by close together)
  • The left foot needs to be grounded with the rhythm of 1-2,3
  • Then allow the right foot to continue moving until shot is 180ْ   from release at which point drop the left heel to form the block
  • 70-80% of release velocity achieved in final delivery, so this movement needs to be very explosive and fast
  • Important that the head remains passive so that shoulders and trunk rotate around the head (core movement) do not strike with the head


  • The block leg should be stiff on delivery
  • Horizontal release point needs to be as far in front of the stop board as possible without falling (20-40cm for elite athletes)

Optimal angle of release

  • Elite 42%
  • Higher the angle reduces the release velocity
  • Research suggests 32-38 is best angle

Because of the forces generated, most athletes have to perform a reverse by bringing the right foot forward just after the critical point of the delivery to ensure the throw is not fouled.

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