How do I perform a discus throw?

discus throw athletics
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By Benedict Yeo

Blink and you’ll miss the throw. In a mere two seconds, the expert discus thrower musters up torque like a human whirlwind and ejects the discus into the distance. At the world level, the discus throw is a precise dance, where rhythm, harmony and balance convert into power. For the novice thrower, you will need to begin with the basics.

How to throw a discus

Step 1: Holding the discus

How do you grip a discus? Surprise. You do not actually grip it. Place your thumb on the plate . The rest of your fingertips should spread equally apart and extend over the rim of the discus. The discus will rest on the joints closest to the fingertips.

To test if you have got it right, dangle your arm straight down, and swing your arm gently like a pendulum. If you are not gripping the discus tightly, yet it is snugly in place, then most likely you have it correct. The centrifugal force when you swing the discus holds it in place.

Team Singapore's James Wong before releasing the discus at the SEA Games 2013 (photo credit: Stanley Cheah/SSC).

Step 2: Preparing for a standing throw

Stand with your left shoulder pointing at the target and your body facing the direction perpendicular to your shoulder (for right-handers). Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Hold the discus to your front, with your throwing hand, palm down. Your other hand should support the discus from below to prevent it from falling.

Step 3: Executing a standing throw

Now that you’re in position, swing your throwing arm far back, palm still facing down. Once your throwing arm is pulled back to a comfortable limit, swing the discus to the front. Ideally, you should push with your right leg, twist your hips, and snap your left arm across your chest to the left. 

Step 4:Release

Finish up looking at the target, and your throwing hand should follow through at an angle where the discus would take off. To eject the discus, you sort of squeeze it like a bar of soap, so that the discus spins off the index finger. The greater the spin, the more stable the flight.

Going beyond

When you have mastered the basics of the standing throw and feel like trying for the Olympics, you may go forth to learn the complex but beautiful spin technique. That is, however, a different beast for another time.

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