The shot put is an athletics (track and field) event involving throwing (putting) a heavy metal ball, also called the shot, as far as possible.
Competitors take their throw from inside a circle 2.1 metres (7 feet) in diameter. They must rest the shot put in between the neck and shoulder, and push their throwing arm straight when they throw. The shotputters must not leave the circle until the shot lands on the ground. The distance thrown is measured from the centre of the circle to where the shotput has landed.
Each competitor gets a certain number of throws, usally 3 in elite competition, with the best competitor winning with best out of 3 attempts, and the competitor with the furthest legal put is declared the winner. In men's competition, the shotput weighs approximately 7.3 kilogram (16 pounds). The women's shotput weighs 4 kg. American high schools usually use 12 pound shots for boys and 8 pound shots for girls, these are sometimes known as practice shots.
There are currently two putting styles in use by shot put competitors. The first involves sidestepping to the front of the circle and releasing the shotput (the glide); a newer technique involves rotating like a discus thrower (the spin). In both cases, the key is to gain maximum forward velocity to help speed the shot on its way. Currently, most top shot putters use the spin, but the glide remains popular especially at the amateur level since the technique is easier to master.
The current world record in the outdoor shotput is 75 feet, 10.25 inches (23.12 meters), which was set by American Randy Barnes in 1990. The top distances for the last decade have decreased, perhaps due to increased anti-doping efforts.
Shot put competitions have been held at the Summer Olympics since their inception, and whilst the event is popular, competitors generally do not gain the same recognition as track athletes.