Height Events

The Nature of Height Events

  • Height events are elimination tournaments.
  • A competitor is eliminated by missing three times in a row.
  • Once the winner is determined, the event may continue as the last thrower has the right to continue until elimination occurs.
    • The event is over when all throwers are eliminated.
    • The event can end after a winner is determined and the winner chooses to stop.
    • The last thrower standing also has the right to name his height as he may choose to go after records.
  • Once the winner is determined and eliminated by three misses, the event is concluded
    • Unlike distance events, NO additional throws are allowed for records.
      • If a judge or AD allows extra throws, the record will not be certified.

Field Layout

  • The AD should have the field laid out and standards erected.
    • Obviously, the ground should be as level as possible
  • Uprights must be between 8’ and 13’ apart for WOB and 10’ and 13’ apart for Sheaf.
  • If the judge has a choice of uprights, the shorter ones should be used for weight-over-bar and the taller one for sheaf.

Conducting the Event

  • The competitor who threw first in the last event is placed last in this event and everybody moves up one place in the throwing order.  (This is repeated after each and every event.)
  • Each competitor not yet eliminated will be given an opportunity to make an attempt in the above mentioned order before subsequent rounds of attempts are made.
  • Each competitor will be allowed no more than three attempts to clear a given height.
    • if the contest is using Track and Field passing rules, the number of attempts may be less than three depending on the number of passes since the last cleared height.
      • Under T&F passing, once a thrower has passed at the given height, he no longer can attempt that height (unless for tie breaking).

Starting Height

Rules describing starting height are similar across rule-sets.

  • Judge should overcome the urge of setting a starting height at a level where all throwers have a shot at clearing the height.
  • The goal is to determine the best throwers not to give all throwers a mark in fictional database competitions.
  • The judge must and needs to adjust the starting height depending on size of flight, number of events left in the day, the experience of the athletes, number of flights waiting to use the upright standards, …  In other words, the judge needs to use a higher starting height for larger flights and when there is a time constraints.
    • The judge may get some blow back, but experienced throwers will back the judge when you tell those who complain that it is not about getting a mark, it is about determining who is the best at the event.

Often WOB is started at an integer heights and sheaf is started at even integer heights.  Borges based rules prescribe this (see below).  As a judge, when you are not restricted by this convention, you could start a WOB contest at a 6 inch mark and an odd integer height for sheaf.

  • This should help those “database throwers” get better marks.
  • Borges Rules on this matter removes some of the database driven silliness: The starting height shall be divisible by 12”.


The measurements will be made from the ground to the top of the crossbar, with the rule-set often determining where on the cross bar the measurement is made.

  • In general, the height is measured using tape(s) hung from the crossbar to a mark on the upright; often both uprights have tapes to better adjust the height.
    • The mark on the upright is usually set at 4′ or 5′ above the ground.
  • Measuring for World, National, North American, … have different procedures.

Setting the Tape

As a judge, you may be asked to help set up the field or attach tapes on the crossbar. Thus, some information on how to attach the tapes maybe of help.  Warning: ADs do things in their own way so they should either instruct you or live with what they get.

  • The tape needs to be attached to the top of the cross bar or adjustments made on where the measurement is read on the upright to reflect the measurement from the top of the cross bar to the ground.
  • When attaching the tape to the cross bar, it should be attached on the cross base as close to the upright as possible to ensure accurate measure.
    • When the tape is not perpendicular to the ground, the cross bar will be set lower than desired/proper height.

Measurement for Records

If it is known before hand that a record attempt is about to be made, the most prudent thing to do is lower the cross bar and drape a spare tape over that bar before raising it to the desired record height.  The height is then set by measuring in the middle and on the sides.  The measure in the middle should determine the height.

  • Draping a tape over the cross bar artificially increases the height read on the ground due to the thickness of the crossbar.  Adjustments need to be made to compensate for this when measuring for records.
    • Example 1: Assume the crossbar is 1/2″ square steel tube, the height read on the ground will be 1/2″ longer due to the thickness of the tube. For a 30′ throw, the tape should read 60′-1/2″ due to the thickness of the crossbar.
    • Example 2:  Assume the crossbar is 1.5″ PVC, the height on the ground will be Pi * Radius of the PVC pipe.  A 1.5″ PVC pipe has an outside diameter of 1.9″, which implies that the reading on the ground will be 2.9845 inches longer than double the heights distance. For a 30′ throw, the tape will read 30′-2.9845″
  • An alternative is to zip-lock a steel measure to the bottom of the cross bar and make a compensation for the diameter of the crossbar when reading the measure on the ground.
  • Before the attempt is to begin, confirm the height with the draped tape in the middle of the crossbar as that is the one which should be used to confirm the record.
  • Rules vary; some rules state the height is measured from the cross bar at its lowest point, some say in the middle (as there is some sag in fiberglass and PVC cross bars), …

I would recommend measuring in the middle w/ the draped tape and both ends with the tapes on the upright and adjusting the cross bar to avoid any doubt. When the implement hits the cross bar, the bar may move (depending on type of uprights) requiring to reconfirm the height.

What happens if the record has been set before the measure was taken in the middle?

  • The judge and AD will need to be creative!?!

Judges Communications

Before the start of the event, the Judge should explain the rules.

  • The judge should remind each and every thrower that they are responsible for their own safety.
  • Generally accepted minimum jumps in height are: 1 ft jumps for WOB and 2 ft jumps for Sheaf.
    • Note: some rule sets do not specify the minimum jump in heights.
  • No extra throws.
  • No throwing of the fork.
  • Respect your fellow competitor’s fork.
  • It is wise to discuss starting heights, but the judge has the final say (see below).
  • Confirm that the event is spinning or standing event.  If standing what is allowed for a standing throw
    • Some games do not allow side throwing

Throwing Etiquette

A good Judge controls the pace of an event by enforcing Throwing Etiquette.

  • The Judge needs to initially call who is up and who is on deck.
  • The thrower shags the implement after the turn is completed.  Remind the throwers early so you do not have to deal with this issue.  Often the other throwers join in.
  • The Judge should ask throwers to remember who they follow so the order does not have to be constantly repeated.
  • Laying out this order at the beginning of the event is beneficial because:
    • It reflects positively on your professionalism as a judge.
    • It removes any doubt who is running the flight; the judge establishes his authority.
    • When a judge speaks, the flight should listen as their health may depend on the judges warnings.

Passing Rules

There are three general ways that passing is incorporated into height events.  How the judge runs a height event may be effected by the rules.  Tie-breaking methods are usually tied to the type of passing rules.  See Passing Rules for more information

Adjusting the Cross Bar

A tape measure should be attached on both sides, but may be just on one side.  In general, the uprights are marked at 4 or 5 feet off the ground, and the height is read at this mark.

  • Recruit competitors to help raise the cross bar.
    • If in doubt, show them the mark and tell them what height should be read on the tape.
  • If only one tape measure, adjust the height using the tape and then have the assistant adjust the height until the bar is level.
    • It is the judge’s responsibility to verify the cross bar is level.
  • If the cross bar has been hit by an implement, verify the the height and the whether the cross bar is still level.

Generally, the bar will be raised by 1’ (one foot) increments for Weight over Bar and 2’ (two foot) increments for Sheaf as these are the minimums not maximums in the rules.  When most of the competitors are eliminated, a “lessor amount” maybe used.  There are rule differences delaying with when this can occur and at what “lessor amount” maybe.  See Height Change Rules

What Constitutes Clearing a Height?

The implement must go over the crossbar between the inside of the uprights is the bare minimum of what would be considered clearing a height. The biggest controversy is not whether the implement went over the bar, but on whether the implement touches the bar as it goes over and how it touched the bar when it goes over.

Seeing Clearing a Height Rules

If the judge or AD uses a non-standard interpretation (such as the implement cannot touch the cross-bar at all), it needs to be clearly communicated to the participants before the start of the height event.

Throwing Motion

  • Any style may be used to toss the weight as long as it is deemed safe by the judge (and the rules are followed), .
    • Specific field rules may not allow the spinning technique to be used.

Throwing Motion – WOB

  • The competitor may use either hand to toss the weight, but only one hand may be used.

Throwing Motion – Sheaf

  • Sheaf – The toss must be made using a pitch fork (technically, it is a hay fork!).
    • The competitor can use anybody’s pitch fork is not in every rule set, but is a basic principal of this event:Borge’s Rule Set states it well: Competitors may bring their own pitchforks but it is understood that any competitor may use any pitchfork that will be used in the competition.
      • As a judge, encourage respect for other throwers fork.

Not in most rule sets, but is understood:

      • The pitch fork is never thrown with the sheaf. If it is, the attempt is scratched.
      • In general the pitch fork should remain in both hands.
      • A scratch should be called if the thrower intentionally completes the throw one handed in the situation where he stands under the bar and lifts bag over bar one handed and shakes the bag off — the starting height should never be this low for this to happen.
      • It will be considered an attempt when the bag falls of the fork after the throwing motion starts but before the throw is completed
        • The same goes for when the thrower launches the sheaf and it rebounds back towards the thrower and he catches… The thrower does not get to start over!
        • The attempt starts when the thrower sets his position and the bag leaves the ground.


If spinning is allowed, some of the same safety precautions used in weight for distance event needs to be observed in height events.

  • No one should be allowed to stand on the release side of the thrower.
    • This is the kill zone and the weight is just as likely to fly out while spinning for height as it is for distance throw.  The trajectory will be different as the throwing mechanics is a bit different than those for weight for distance.
  • If more than one upright is used and the uprights are in close proximity, a heads up to the neighboring throwing pit maybe wise, especially when the pit is on the release side of the thrower.
  • In Control – The competitor will complete the throw under control as decided by the judge or the throw will be ruled a foul; this clause is not in Borges based rules.


  • Even though each and every thrower is responsible for his/her own safety, the judge has the ability to set the tone by emphasizing safety issues before each event.
  • Before each throw, the impact area should be scanned for those foolish enough to cross. Throwing should be halted until the field is clear of those not involved in the event.
  • The judge should pick a position to stand or sit that allows clear view of the cross bar and outside of the impact zone.
  • Never stand or allow others to stand on the release side of the throwers as this is one of the most dangerous place to observe this or any event with the spin.

  • The Judge determines whether a throwing style is safe and whether the athlete can perform the style safely.
  • In the interest of safety, the judge has the right to disqualify any competitor who, in the judge’s opinion, does not have the ability to complete a throw without undue risk of injury to himself, other competitors, or spectators.
  • The judge also has the right to disqualify any competitor who displays poor sportsmanship or engages in inappropriate conduct.
  • 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.
  • An announcement that a left hand spinner is up should be made.
    • They release on the opposite side, which may dictate observes to move.
    • Observers can get complacent in height events.


Additional Topics 

Sheaf Starting Height Scoring
WOB Clearing a Height  Passing
Height Change