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Future Implements Specifications

Last updated 15 June 2011 by Tony Dziepak

This article shows my suggestion for modifying implement specifications for the athletics throwing events for IAAF and national federations, with a focus on the United States (USATF). I have two sets of proposals. The first is for the USATF to implement at the next annual meeting, and the second is for the IAAF to adopt after the 2012 Olympiad after the new doping protocol is established (see Future Doping Protocol).

Current specs:
Age   MSP WSP MHT WHT MWT WWT MDT  WDT   MJT  WJT groups 
 0-8  2K  2K  --  --  --  --  --   --   .3Km .3Km USATF sub-bantam
 9-10 #6  #6  --  --  --  --  --   --   .3Km .3Km USATF bantam
11-12 #6  #6  --  --  --  --  1K   1K   .3Km .3Km USATF midget
13-14 4K  #6  --  --  --  --  1K   1K   .6K  .6K  USATF youth, middle school PE
15-18 #12 4K  #12 4K  #25 #20 1.6K 1K   .8K  .6K  USATF intermediate, USATF young men/women, NFHS high school
16-17 5K  4K  5K  4K  --  --  1.5K 1K   .7K  .6K  IAAF youth
18-19 6K  4K  6K  4K  --  --  1.75 1K   .8K  .6K  IAAF junior 
16-49 #16 4K  #16 4K  #35 #20 2K   1K   .8K  .6K  senior, NCAA, open age
50-59 6K  3K  6K  3K  #25 #16 1.5K 1K   .7K  .5K
60-69 5K  3K  5K  3K  #20 #12 1K   1K   .6K  .4K
70-74 4K  3K  4K  3K  #16 #12 1K   1K   .5K  .4K
80+   4K  3K  3K  3K  #12 #12 1K   .75K .4K  .4K

Recommended short-term new specs:
Age   MSP WSP MHT WHT MWT WWT MDT  WDT  MJT  WJT groups
 0-8  2K  2K  --  --  --  --  --   --  .3Km .3Km USATF sub-bantam 
 9-10 3K  3K  --  --  --  --  .75K .75 .3Km .3Km USATF bantam
11-12 3K  3K  3K  3K  --  --  1K   .75 .3Km .3Km USATF midget
13-14 4K  3K  4K  3K  #20 #20 1.25 1K  .6K  .6K  USATF youth
15-16 5K  4K  5K  4K  #25 #20 1.5K 1K  .7K  .6K  USATF intermediate
16-17 5K  4K  5K  4K  #25 #20 1.5K 1K  .7K  .6K  IAAF youth
17-18 6K  4K  6K  4K  #25 #20 1.75 1K  .8K  .6K  USATF young men/women 
18-19 6K  4K  6K  4K  #25 #20 1.75 1K  .8K  .6K  IAAF junior, USATF young men/women 
16-49 #16 4K  #16 4K  #35 #20 2K   1K  .8K  .6K  senior, NCAA, open age
50-59 6K  4K  6K  4K  #25 #16 1.75 1K  .7K  .5K
60-69 5K  3K  5K  3K  #20 #16 1.5K 1K  .6K  .4K
70-79 4K  3K  4K  3K  #16 #12 1.25 1K  .5K  .4K
80+   3K  3K  3K  3K  #12 #12 1K   1K  .4K  .4K

Recommended long-term new specs:
Age   MSP WSP MHT WHT MWT WWT MDT   WDT    MJT  WJT groups
 0-8  2K  2K  --  --  --  --  --    --    .3Km .3Km USATF sub-bantam 
 9-10 3K  3K  3Ks 3Ks  8Kb8Kb 1K    1K    .3Km .3Km 
11-12 4K  3K  4Ks 3Ks 10Kb8Kb 1.25K 1K    .4Kl .4Kl 
13-14 5K  4K  5Kh 4Kh 12K 10K 1.5K  1.25K .6K  .5K  USATF youth, middle school PE, NFHS freshmen
15-16 6K  4K  6K  4K  14K 10K 1.75K 1.25K .7K  .5K  USATF intermediate, NFHS varsity and JV
17-19 7K  5K  7K  5K  16K 12K 2K    1.5K  .8K  .6K  IAAF junior, NCAA freshman
16-49 8K  5K  8K  5K  18K 12K 2.25K 1.5K  .9K  .6K  IAAF senior, NCAA varsity, open age
50-59 7K  5K  7K  5K  16K 12K 2K    1.5K  .8K  .6K
60-69 6K  4K  6K  4K  14K 10K 1.75K 1.25K .7K  .5K
70-79 5K  4K  5K  4K  12K 10K 1.5K  1.25K .6K  .5K
80-89 4K  3K  4K  3K  10K  8K 1.25K 1K    .5K  .4K
90+   3K  3K  3K  3K   8K  8K 1K    1K    .4K  .4K

s = soft hammer mandatory: shot-filled vinyl ball head; no minimum length; maximum length reduced by 10cm.
h = minimum length waived, soft hammer optional (maximum head diameter waived for soft hammer).  
b = soft weight mandatory: shot-filled vinyl ball head; no solid metal, chain or hard plastic heads.
m = mini-jav--a short, plastic javelin with rubber tip and fins. 
l = long Tom Jav--plastic javelin with rubber tip and fins, slightly longer than the mini-jav.
In the near-term, he principles behing the spec changes are:

* To standardize the USATF implement weights and dimensions with the IAAF

* To standardize the youth weights and dimensions with the masters age-group weights and dimensions. This will help track clubs to be able to use the same implements for both youth and masters competitions.

* To eliminate big jumps in implement weights, and to improve the age-appropriate weights.

In the short term, there are no changes in the open implements specifications--only changes in youth and masters.

In the long-term, we adjust the open implement specifications to improve the use of facilities, and the youth and masters weights are recalibrated accordingly.

Women's open implement weights are all between .625 and .67 that of men's. Women's target distances are between .88 and .94 that of men's. This is the proper ratio to make the men's and women's eqivalent events similar.

For example, in the discus, the current women's weight is only .50 that of the men's, and performances are about 100% of men's. The women's WR is greater than the men's. In my opinion, the women's discus weight is way too low, resulting in the event being too much of a speed event. There is currently overemphasis on ripping a good release, with speed and perfect flight, and the technique at the back of the circle is neglected. An increase in weight would reward better overall technicians.

On the other extreme, the women's javelin is .75 the weight of the men's javelin, and women's distances are way below the men's. The new women's WR is only .73 that of the current men's WR. After the CG change in 1999 to assure tip landings, it has not been as an aesthetically impressive event.

Shot and Hammer
   diameter length
wt min max* min  max
3K  90 100  1120 1160
4K 100 110  1130 1170
5K 108 118  1138 1178
6K 115 125  1145 1185
7K 121 131  1151 1191
8K 127 137  1157 1197 (18mm shorter max length)
*Indoor allowed +5mm for maximum diameter;
masters outdoor competition allowed +5mm for maximum diameter for 3Kwomen, and 3, 4, and 5K men.

Weight Throw (solid head)
    diametr length
wt  min max min max
 8K 127 137 337 367 
10K 137 147 347 377
12K 146 156 356 386
14K 154 164 364 394
16K 162 172 372 402
18K 168 178 378 408 (about same max length)
Plastic-filled indoor weights: add 10mm for maximum diameter;
Soft vinyl weight bags: add 15mm for maximum diameter.

Discus
      diametr thickness
wt    min max min max
1K    180 182  36  38
1.25K 190 192  38  40
1.5K  200 202  40  42
1.75K 210 212  42  44
2K    220 222  44  46
2.25K 230 232  46  48

Javelin
    length    head    shaft   cord    CG-tip 
wt  min  max  min max min max min max min max
400 1900 2000 200 280 21  25  130 140 700 800
500 2100 2200 210 290 22  26  135 145 780 880
600 2200 2300 220 300 23  27  140 150 820 920
700 2300 2400 230 310 24  28  145 155 860 960
800 2500 2600 240 320 25  29  150 160 940 1040
900 2600 2700 250 330 26  30  150 160 980 1080
Uniform taper proportions for all weights.
Distance from tip to CG max length equal to .40 max overall length. 

Target top world performances
event shot  weight discus hammer javelin
men   18-20 20-22  60-65  70-75  80-85
women 16-18 18-20  55-60  65-70  75-80
Javelin: The shaft diameter of the 600g javelin was increased by 2mm to increase aerodynamics and flight time. In 1999, the nose-landing problem was solved by moving the CG forward by increasing the tip weight, but it resulted in lower distances. A thicker diameter shaft will increase lift and make for a greater flignt time, increased visibility, and aesthetically impressive throw without defeating nose landing. This will increase women's distances slightly; Men's open javelin weight increased to 900g to reduce distances.

The 400g javelin increased in length by 5cm to bring it in proportion to other javelins, and because it is only used by masters. Children 12 and under exclusively use mini-jav. Javelin heads are made specific and proportional to the weight of the javelin.

Discus: The women's discus weight is probably the most underweight implement. I suggest increasing the weight to 1.5K. The men's weight is increased to 2.25K. However, the discus thickness of the 1.5 is increased slightly to make it more aerodynamic and more proportional to other weight discs. The 2.25K will be 1cm larger in diameter, which is closer to (but still nowhere near) that of the ancient discus.

Hammer: Men's and women's hammer weight increased; length reduced slightly, to reduce distances to make it compatible with discus facility; but average hammer should still be slightly further than average discus. The lengths of all the hammers are standardized so that one can use the same length wire and handle on all the hammers. That is, the maximum length decrease is the same as the diameter decrease.

Shot put: As with the hammer, I think the diameters should be close to representing the natural density of an iron shot. This is done for two reasons--to make the sport accessible by eliminating the requirement to purchase expensive, titanium implement to be competitive, and so as not to confuse spectators.

The new specs increase the weight, but increase women's weight more than men's increase; keep weights the same as hammer. Increase the minimum diameters for both the shot and the hammer head. Make the diameters closer to that of a solid iron shot. This would make the events more affordable and more accessible by decreasing the advantage of a high-tech implement that has a steel shell and a lead core. Also, variable diameters confuse fans. A more uniform diameter, and larger diameter is more impressive.

Weight throw: Increase weight to reduce distances to make it compatible with shot facility, but average weight throw should still be slightly further than average shot put. Make performances compatible with a shared infield indoor venue for both shot and weight with the reduced distances, the narrower (34.92-degree) sector, and proper protective cages and implement-stopping netting beyond the landing area.

Forget the superweight; concentrate on making the weight a legitimate IAAF-recognized indoor event equivalent of the hammer. Focus on the hammer outdoors, but continue to contest the weight at masters meets when no hammer facilities are available. Use the same weight implement for indoor, outdoor open, and outdoor weight pentathlon competition. Synchronize WAVA and USATF, and open and pentathlon weight specifications. You can still hold superweight/ultraweight competitions separately. In those competitions, let the athlete throw whatever weights he/she chooses, and develop a scoring system that will take into account both implement weight and distance (and age in masters comps) in order to score athletes throwing different weight implements. For example, a 10-meter throw with a #56 weight might score the same as a 5-meter throw with a #112 weight. Make the competitions organic, where each local competiiton has its own homemade weight. Use the formulas to compare performances at different meets. One might even consider using bodyweight in the formula to come up with a bodyweight-handicapped score. For example, a #180 pound person throwing a #56 weight 10 meters might score the same as a #250 pound individual throwing 12 meters. This brings a weightlifting flavor to the competition.

Conclusion: there is nothing sacred about the weight of the implements. More important is to maintain the nature of the event. In some instances, the nature of the event might be improved with a heavier implement. We also want safety and accessibility.

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