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Fair or Foul?

Throws U posted a video of Jack Heckman’s toss that was called a foul on its Instagram page. This post got a lot of attention from the throws community. The community was divided on whether this was a legal toss, with one half claiming this throw was a foul because Jack did not exit the circle under control, while the other half claimed this throw to be legal because he does not need to exit controlled as long as he exited out the back before the shot grounded. This back and forth made me question, what does the rule book say? What constitutes a foul?



If we analyze Jack’s throw, you can see he fights to stay in after putting the shot, rushing to exit towards the back half of the circle. The referee closest to Jack calls the foul, to Jack’s surprise. We, unfortunately, do not get to see the shot land in comparison to Jack attempting to save the throw, but if you listen closely to the video, we do get what appears to be the sound of the shot landing. In my opinion this throw should have been a legal toss, as I believe the shot landed before Jack exited the circle. As I was watching the video, I was under the impression that the rules have changed, allowing athletes to exit the circle without being “controlled" as long as the shot has grounded in the sector before the athlete completely exited the back half of the circle.


Today we will dive into the rule books of four governing bodies. We will be looking at the World Athletics, USATF, NCAA, and NFHS rules books, alongside visiting the New Balance Nationals website to see what governing body oversees this competition, and decide whether this toss should have been called a foul or not.



World Athletics

32.14 It shall be a failure if an athlete in the course of a trial:


32.14.1 releases the shot or javelin other than as permitted under Rules 33.1 and 38.1 of the Technical Rules;


32.14.2 after they have stepped into the circle and begun to make a throw, touches with any part of their body the top (or the top inside edge) of the rim or the ground outside the circle;


Note: However, it will not be considered a failure if the touches is made without providing any propulsion and occurs during any first rotation at a point completely behind the white line which is drawn outside the circle running, theoretically, through the center of the circle.


32.14.3 in the Shot Put, touches with any part of their body any part of the stop board other than its inner side (excluding its top edge which is considered to be part of the top);


Additional Note:

It is clarified that the top inside edges of the rim of the circle and of the stop board are considered to be part of the top of the rim and stop board, respectively. This means that should an athlete make contact with the top inside edge of either the rim or the stop-board then they will be considered thereby to have made a failure.


The addition of the Note to Rule 32.14.2 of the Technical Rules applies to rotational techniques used by athletes in Shot Put, Discus Throw or Hammer Throw. It should be interpreted that any “incidental” touch of the top of the rim or the ground outside in respect of the back half of the circle during the first rotation should not, of itself, be regarded as a failure. However it is clear that any technique which thereby obtains an advantage through leverage or propulsion would constitute a failure.


32.17 It shall be a failure if the athlete leaves the circle or runway before the implement has touched the ground, or


32.17.1 for throws made from a circle, if when leaving the circle, the athlete’s first contact with the top of the rim or the ground outside the circle is not completely behind the white line which is drawn outside the circle running, theoretically, through the center of the circle”


(World Athletics Handbook, 2023)


USATF

It shall be a foul throw if, after commencing the throw and prior to its completion, the competitor:


(a) does not start from a stationary position inside the circle


(b) touches with any part of the body the top of the iron band or painted circle, including the top inside edge of each, or surface outside the circle NOTE: It shall not be considered a failure if the touch is made without providing any propulsion and occurs during any first rotation at a point completely behind the white line which is drawn outside the circle running, theoretically, through the center of the circle


(c) in the shot put, touches with any part of the body of the stopboard other than its inner side. The top inside edge is considered to be part of the top


(d) releases the shot, or javelin other than as permitted under Rule 188.2 or Rule 193.1


(e) leaves the circle improperly or before the implement has landed.


(USATF Handbook, 2023)



NCAA

ARTICLE 2. It shall be a foul put if, after entering the circle and starting the put, the competitor:

a. Uses any method contrary to the definition of a legal put;


b. Causes the shot to fall on or outside the lines marking the sector;


c. Touches with any part of the body, before the shot hits the ground:

  1. In the front half of the circle, any surface area outside of the circle’s metal band, except the inside surface;

  2. In the back half of the circle, any surface area outside of the top of the circle’s metal band; or

  3. Any surface outside of the top of the stopboard except its inside surface;


d. Throws an implement that does not conform to the legal requirements;


e. Gains assistance as indicated in Rule 16-1.5a or through the applicable provisions of Rule 14-3.1a;


f. Leaves the circle before the shot hits the ground;


g. Leaves the circle from the front half; or


h. Fails to initiate a trial as prescribed in Rule 16-1.2a.


Note: It is not a foul if any part of the competitor’s body swings outside the circle without touching


(NCAA Handbook, 2023)


NFHS

It is a foul if the competitor:


a. Fails to initiate a purposeful action of completing the requirements of the athletic challenge of the event (trial) within he prescribed time limit after the competitor's name is called.


b. After stepping into the circle, fails to pause before starting the put.


c. After starting the attempt, touches any surface outside the circle during a put.


d. Allows the shot to drop behind or below the shoulder during the put attempt.


e. Touches the top or end of the stopboard before leaving the circle.


f. Puts the shot so it does not fall within the sector lines.


g. Leaves the circle before the implement has landed.


h. Does not exit the back half of the circle.


i. Uses the "cartwheel" technique of shot putting.


(NFHS Rulebook, 2023)


New Balance Nationals

USATF rules apply to all events, per the New Balance Nationals website.



My Thoughts

After looking through the rule books of these four governing bodies, I still believe that this throw should have been legal. From my understanding of the rules, as long as the shot grounds within the permitted area and the athlete exits the back half of the circle marked by white lines without committing any other foul, the athlete does not need to exit the circle controlled.


Going back to Jack’s throw, I believe that Jack should have prioritized recovering as he reversed. To me, it looks like he peeked out into the sector to see how far he just threw before being fully recovered, causing him to lose control and go into full panic mode trying to save the put. To all young throwers, focus on the recovery first, look out second! I’ve seen too many throws lost due to looking out into the sector. It’s even happened to me. The officials are going to tell you how far you threw, just focus on recovering before looking out into the sector.



Time for an Update!

Talking with some of the throwers at Garage Strength, we discussed the importance of keeping up with the rule books. There are too many of us who either don’t know the rules or are using outdated rules. By knowing the rules we can eliminate the probabilities of error in our sport. I have attached links to each governing body's rule books down below.


After going through the rule books and visiting the NBN website, has your mind changed? Do you believe this throw to be a foul or legal toss? When was the last time you checked for updates in the rule books? Let me know your thoughts!


Peace - Sam Weeks


Resources

World Athletics Competition Rules (C1.1 & C2.1): https://worldathletics.org/about-iaaf/documents/book-of-rules


2023 USATF Competition Rules: https://www.usatf.org/governance/rule-books


2023-2023 Cross Country and Track and Field Rules: https://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/TF24.pdf


2023 NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules



"Our aim is to provide concise and concrete education and training on the throws, helping coaches and athletes learn what they need to do to succeed and become champions."


- Dane and Trevor



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The rule that applies is the shot has to land before the thrower leaves via the back of the circle. I couldn't hear the crunch of the shot hitting the surface. If someone else had a wide angle view that showed thrower and landing zone then it would be an easy determination. However, I think the judge might have been objecting to the "lack of control" (which did look pretty bad!) rather than the exit timing versus the shot landing. Question: would the throw have won the competition or been a PR? If not, chalk it up to experience and NO PEEKING (as they say in golf)!

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I agree with you, that if there was a wider angle that would be easier to determine. I played the clip several times, and I believe I heard the shot land before Jack exited. I also agree, that “lack of control“ was pretty bad, but based on the ruling, I still believe this wasn’t a foul. From what I was told, this would have been a big PR for Jack, and potentially could have won the meet. P.S. We started working on recovering the throw first before looking out. No more silly fouls! - Sam

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