Judging Overview

Judge and AD Relationship

The Athletics Director (AD) is often the judge in a single flight competition.  However, judges are hired at other times and at other style of events.   When a judge is hired, the judge represent the AD on the field and is hired to run the flight in a safe, efficient, knowledgeable, and fair manner in order to conduct an orderly athletic competition, which entertain the paying audience.

By accepting the position, the judge not only represent the AD, he/she represents the festival, the sport of Heavy Athletics, and the embedded Scottish Culture.  The judge’s performance reflects directly upon all of these but most directly on the AD and his festival.

As a representative of the AD, the judge has implicit authority, which is not outlined in most rule sets. Because this relationship, the AD should always have the judge’s back allowing the judge to exercise his authority in a manner the judge see fit to run the flight within the guidelines set out by the AD.  It is a relationship based on respect and trust.

Family Entertainment

Besides the feats of strength and athleticism, Heavy Athletics is also family entertainment. This leads to the judge being part time announcer and rarely a part time police officer watching for inappropriate behavior and language.

When inappropriate behavior is observed and not corrected by fellow throwers, a simple reminder of the family nature of the contest is usually all that is needed as one reminder often triggers ribbing by other competitors.  In most cases, this solves the problem.

What happens if a reminder it is not enough?  Fortunately, the embedded value of sportsmanship in Heavy Athletics should provide:

  • the judge the right to disqualify any competitor who displays poor sportsmanship or engages in inappropriate conduct;
  • the judge the ability to ask any thrower to leave the field;

under the implicit powers of representing the A.D.  I have never heard of this happening but In general, the judge’s rulings are final.

Obviously, before things get out of hand, warnings should be given by the judge. These should be done discretely by pulling the thrower to the side, avoiding embarrassment. In addition, the judge should consider having the AD handle these situations, since the AD has the final word.

Other Family Entertainment concerns that should probably be handled by the AD are:

  • Athletes drinking alcohol during the event. (safety issues and family event)
  • Athletes smoking on the field (sportsmanship and family event).

Pace of the Contest

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

  • The judge needs to initially call who is up, who is on deck, and who is shagging.
  • The judge should ask throwers to remember who they follow so the order does not have to be constantly repeated.

Laying out this out early is beneficial to the judge because:

  • It reflects positively on the judge’s professionalism.
  • It removes any doubt who is running the flight as this helps establishes the judges authority.
  • When a judge speaks, the flight should listen as their health may depend on the judges warnings.

Score Sheets

A good judge periodically turns in the flight’s score sheets. This allows the score keeper to remain current, thus minimizing scoring bottle necks at the end of the competition.

Spokesman, Educator, and Salesman

By being a Judge, the public expects you to be knowledgeable about this sport, which makes you a de-facto spokesman for this sport and the underlying cultural.

How you answer questions matters.

Example:  When answering questions about the weight of the Weight-for-distance implement, a judge should first give the weight in stones (1 stone = 14lbs) than in pounds with a little explanation of the history (The weights are most likely from agriculture scales which used the imperial weight system). This adds to the mystic and history of this event — the judge is selling heavy athletics as part of the culture as well as an athletic event.

An unconventional view of the history of Heavy Athletics


Each individual thrower is responsible for his/her actions. A Judge impacts an event’s safety by the judges mere presence.

Before the first event of the day, the Judge should provide basic information, some of which are safety in origin.  Information such as:

  • Be alert. watch out for one and another.
  • If the thrower is not measuring, the thrower should be outside the impact zone.
  • If an implement is flying towards you, (the common given advice is to) step to the side rather than stepping back.

Additionally, as the event continues, a judge may consider:

  • Calling out a warning when a superior throwers are up as their implements will fly farther.
    • An example when this occurs would be a pro throwing with the amateurs.
  • Calling out warning when a lefty is up.
    • Lefties release and impact zone are opposite from the majority of the other throwers.
  • A Judge needs to always monitor the “kill zone” and impact zone making sure they are clear.  There should be NO COMPROMISE ON THIS POINT.

The Kill Zone

The Kill zone is the area next to the trig on the release side of the thrower.  If the athlete loses the grip on an implement, it will most likely be on the release side of the throwing box.  The following videos show the danger of having people in the “kill zone”

This is not a laughing matter.

Basic Information

A judge should communicate:

  • How the box is painted: Are the lines in or out?
  • Measuring is taken from the front or back of the marker stick — a function of how the tape measure is attached.
  • Also, the judge should provide, if needed, a brief explanation of the rules and how each event will be judged. Of course, a novice class will need more than a brief explanation.

If the judge is using any non-standard interpretation to judge an event, an explanation of the interpretation before hand is imperative.

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