Selecting a Shot Put

February 27, 2017 Justin Rodhe

Selecting a Shot Put

February 27, 2017

Justin Rodhe


Time and time again I meet with a new client and they pull out a shiny brass or stainless steel ball that resembles a marble more than a shot put. In the course of some discussion I learn that the implement was purchased in looking forward to training with me, the athlete wanting a “real” shot put to throw. I know how much these items cost and it takes all my patience to not be gruff about the waste of money.

It seems the shoes we wear or the items we throw are subject to “status” symbols of how good we “think” we are. I will tell you, with all the confidence of my experience, it is much more impressive how far you throw something, or how many times you can throw something than how good it looks or how much it cost. In fact, the most impressive showcase of “status” as an athlete is when you can out-throw other athletes with a basic implement.

Good implements can be found from every vendor, I do not think any one vendor is exclusively better for 90% of the throwing community. There are a few exceptions to this as the achievement of the athlete increases. As a general guide, don’t purchase the cheapest item and don’t purchase the most expensive item. Too expensive and you will waste your money, too cheap and you will regret your decision after just a few throws.

Let us disregard Cast Iron, Brass, and Stainless shots from our discussion for safety reasons. Cast Iron will slowly chip away over time, especially if throwing on some type of stone. The pits created from the damage will rust and begin to cut your neck when throwing. Brass and Stainless are too small and smooth to actually get a good grip on the ball. Chalk doesn’t stick to them and the smallest amount of moisture can cause slipping. The small diameter also creates added stress to the hand. Many young throwers prefer the small diameter because they think it fits their hand better. This is a fallacy as most young throwers still assimilate grip with that of a baseball or softball. Proper placement of the shot put requires very little wrap of the fingers around diameter of the ball. These small diameter shot puts are responsible for many hand injuries that my shot put glove can prevent, or aid in training through the injury.


*anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about.

 Now we are free to discuss the properties of Turned Iron and Turned Steel.

I try to purchase Turned Iron whenever possible. Sometimes the weight and diameter requires a turned steel ball. For example a 5kg or 6kg 128mm shot put has to be Turned Steel. Turned Iron is harder than Cast Iron and offers a slightly pitted surface that holds chalk and wicks moisture away from hand and neck.

Over time Turned Steel shots will wear down their lathe marking and become smooth. Once this happens, they don’t hold chalk as well, but use has marked them enough that grip isn’t too much of a problem. The outer shells of Turned Steel are harder than Turned Iron so if you throw around big stone, a lot of other shot puts, or cement barriers, Turned Steel will last longer for you.


*anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about.