Discus Technique

The discus event we know today evolved from the ancient Olympic Pentathlon where the athlete was required to long jump, throw the discus and javelin, as well as run and wrestle. The following sequence explaining how to throw a discus is written for a right-handed thrower which means that they will be entering the throw by turning to the left (anti-clockwise).

Note in the examples, 12 o’clock is the back of the circle, so the front is 6 and the athlete will turn towards 9 on entry.

A useful way of breaking it down is thinking about three key phases, a beginning, middle and end. In each phase there are several sections. For the following example, the beginning is the wind and pivot, followed by the middle, the step, 180 and turn, 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 this event is to develop good rhythm i.e.1-2, 3 turn the feet and release.

The Wind phase

  • Stand facing the back (12 o’clock ) of the circle and swing the right arm back with discus in the right hand
  • As athletes achieve the wind up position 60–70% of body weight is over the right foot
  • Separate the lower body from the upper body with a reverse V shape of the lower body as the discus winds back
  • Feel the torque in the right leg

Pivot phase

  • Allow body weight to pivot on left foot toes and move to 80–90% of normal height. i.e. move from high to low shifting body weight from right foot to 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 right shoulder behind the right hip

Step across the circle

  • Lead the right foot as you step forward, whilst also simultaneously pushing off the left foot and stepping into middle of the circle (falling) with your gaze looking forward
  • Don’t look down
  • Make sure body is leaning forwards
  • Ensure the discus remains above shoulder height when commencing the mirror (180ْ ) movement i.e. the turn across the circle
  • Keep left arm over left leg (as if reading the time)
  • When driving across the circle and turn out this should provide the power house position for the throw


  • Keep the right foot turning throughout the throw and allow the left leg to come underneath the body and ground. i.e. sweep the left leg back to between 6 and 5 and torso leaning towards 12 (knees should pass by close together)
  • As left leg sweeps the right arm needs to stall at 4.30ish, with the discus at least at head height (most throwers do not give themselves enough time at this moment)
  • The left foot needs to be grounded with the rhythm of 1-2,3

Turn phase

  • As the right foot continues to move underneath the body, the throwing arm will begin to pick up momentum so that when the discus is 180ْ  (12 o’clock ) from release start to drop the left heel to form the block
  • The long pull – approx 70-80% of release velocity achieved in final delivery and most of that comes in the last 180ْ  of movement  
  • Athletes head should remain passive keeping the left elbow high and away from the body at shoulder/head height, then pull violently around the body (keep the head in a fixed position and do not strike with the head i.e. pull it to the left)
  • A common fault of most throwers is to commence the delivery at left foot touch down and pull to early so that the discus does not go through the low point correctly

Discus release

  • The left leg should be stiff on delivery with the release in front of the body
  • Remember to release as if trying to slap a large boy in front of the throw.
  • And then the right arm should continue across the body as if trying to slap the back
  • Important throughout the throw that athletes head should be relaxed and not move, let torso and shoulders do the work to ensure good core movement
  • Some athletes will throw in a fixed foot position with both feet remaining on the ground for the duration of the delivery.
  • Other athletes may use a reverse foot technique to stop them fouling

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