Standard Field Layout

  • A Trig is a 4’-6” long, 6” x 6” timber.
  • Often, an “imaginary box is used – no side lines.
  • When measuring to center of stance, side lines are a bit meaningless.
  • Other times a throwing box measuring 4’-6” wide is abutted up to the trig.
  • Sometimes a complete throwing box including a back line is painted.  Most judges would never call a back line fouls.  However, some throwers have lost their balance upon release and end up propelling themselves away from the trig to regain balance.
  • How or whether the box is painted determines how the rules are worded, but it does not change how the rules are in-forced.
        • Regional or AD preferences will cause the throwing box to be painted so that the Lines are in-bound (the outside edge is 4.5’ apart) OR the Lines are out-of-bounds (the inside edge is 4.5’ apart).
          • An inspection on where the lines meet the trig will give you an indication of whether the side lines are in or out.
          • A good judge will announcing to the flight whether the lines are in or out of bounds.
        • When the lines are in-bonds, a fraction of the foot over the outside edge of the painted line causes the foot to be out of bounds.
        • When the lines are out-of-bonds, a fraction of the foot touching the painted line causes the foot to be out of bounds.


The overall length of a Scottish Hammer is 50″

Men’s Heavy Hammer at least 22lbs
Men’s Light Hammer at least 16lbs
Women’s Heavy Hammer at least 16lbs
Women’s Light Hammer at least 12lbs

Note: Women’s Hammers for RMSA are listed as 9 and 12lbs and some other festivals also use those hammers.

“Under Control” – Its a regional thing!

Not all rule sets have an “Under Control” clause:

the competitor will complete the throw under control as decided by the judge or the throw will be ruled a foul.

for more info, see < Under Control >


Consistency and Warnings

      • Although it is not required, part of the honor and sportsmanship embedded in Heavy Athletics leads to Judge’s warning competitors that they almost committed a foul.
      • This allows competitors to make adjustments on the next throw to avoid that foul.
      • Consistency is important to avoid the appearance of favoritism.  In other words, if you warn one thrower, you should warn them all.

Stopping the Throwing Motion – Two Versions

      • Judge’s Permission (USAD and RMSA modification to NASGA based Rules): With the Judges Approval, a competitor may stop during a throw and re-start the throw as long as no foul has occurred.

Comment: In many ways, it is impossible for the judge to respond fast enough to grant the thrower permission to stop.  A possible reason why a rule-set would require Judge’s permission has to do with judging whether a fault has occurred.  When permission is asked, the judge has a point in time to determine if a foul has occurred.  This allows the competitor to use means of stopping his motion that may other wise be considered a foul such as driving the hammer into the ground.

This is a judge’s training issue.

      • Thrower’s Right (Borges Based Rules): The competitor may start and stop their throw provided that no part of the implement has made contact with the ground or the trig board during the aborted attempt. If the implement has made contact with the ground or the trig board after the attempt was initiated and prior to receiving permission from the judge, then the attempt will be a foul.

Judge’s training issue: What happens when a hammer head grazes the ground at low point of swing?   The rule did not take this into consideration, However, commons sense applies and touching the ground would preclude grazing but include bad-form where the head nails the ground effecting the throwers ability to complete the throw.

Once the throwing motion has stopped:

      • The Judge may allow the setting of the throwing implement down.
      • The Judge may allow or disallow the competitor from leaving the throwing area before re-starting
      • The time of day, order in event rotation, and the number of other flights waiting for the throwing pit factor in the judge’s decision

Is the Throwing Style Safe?

The Judge determines whether a throwing style is safe and whether the athlete can perform that style safely.

This probably only comes into play with the hammers when someone wants to throw the hammer one handed.

Safety – Where should the Judge Stand?  

The best and safest position for a judge to stand in the hammer events is outside of the cage, directly behind the box, where the judge can clearly judge foot fouls, spot center of stance (when that measuring method is used), scan the impact zone, and watch the kill zone,

Before each throw, the field should be scanned for those foolish enough to cross. Throwing should be halted until the field and kill zone is clear of those not involved in the event.


Never stand or allow others to stand on the thrower’s release side as this is one of the most dangerous place to observe an event, even when a cage is used (Assume all a cage will do is slow down the hammer) There is a reason why it is called the kill zone.


Safety – Where should the Competitors Stand?  

Even though each and every thrower is responsible for his/her own safety, the judge has the ability set the tone by emphasizing safety issues before each event.

      • In the field beyond the impact zone is a safe area for throwers waiting their turn to shag or throw.
        • This of course is only true if they are not standing in the landing zone of another event!
      • Inform those in the field, especially volunteers and novice throwers, that it is safer to step to the side than step backwards to avoid flying implements

There is no guarantee safe place and the implements can take strange bounces depending on the surface — As a Judge, emphasize Safety

Other Safety Practices

The Judge and competitor are not equipment experts.  However, the judge and competitors should periodically inspect the implement for damage that would compromise its integrity.

      • PVC hammer handles with kinks by the head indicating imminent failure.

An announcement that a left hand thrower is up maybe prudent.

      • They release on the opposite side than most, which  may dictate observes to move.
      • This alerts those in the field as the implement tends to land in a different segment of the field.

If a noticeably superior thrower (pro throwing with Ams) is up, a simple heads up call to those in the field maybe in order.