Track & Field Events: Types & Training

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

This lesson focuses on common track and field events and the required training for the various events. We'll explore sprints, relays, distance events, long jump, shot put, and the discus.

Track and Field Events

Track and field is a sport that incorporates different types of athletic events. Track events are running events that range from short distance sprints to middle distance runs of a mile or so to long distance runs like a 26-mile plus marathon. Field events include strength events, such as the shot put and discus, and throwing events, such as the javelin and hammer. The heptathlon and the decathlon are a combination of seven and ten events respectively and incorporate both track and field contests together in a quest for the highest score.

The rules for track and field events are different for each event. The specific training for each event varies as well. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at some of the most common track and field events and examine training procedures that can help athletes improve their skills.

Relay Races

Relay races are usually the closing events at a track and field meet, partly because they are thrilling races that are fun to watch. Relays consist of teams of four runners per squad that take turns around a track. Each runner must pass a baton to the next runner within a certain area of the track or be disqualified. The first runner leads off the race, so he does not receive a baton pass. The last runner does not pass the baton either since he is the last runner, and instead focuses on crossing the finish line. Each team usually passes the baton three times during a race. Athletes hold the baton from the bottom to facilitate a smooth pass.

Distance Races

Most distance races are either 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon. The workout procedures involving distance training are different for each event. Many experts recommend a blanket beginner's plan in which the athlete builds up to running for thirty minutes continuously at a relaxed pace of about 15 minutes per mile. The goal in this type of training is NOT to run for time but merely get the body used to running 30 minutes without stopping. Then the athlete can move on to stage two, which is customizing a plan for one of the given running distances.

Long Jump

The long jump, a contest to see who can jump the farthest in one leap, is one of the most recognizable events in all of track and field and was popularized by the great Jesse Owens, the star of the 1936 Olympics. As with all events, most track and field coaches recommend a warm-up consisting of a light jog for about five minutes. Then the training method is to begin with the standing long jump and then move on to the three-step long jump before progressing to the full running long jump. The latter consists of the approach, the takeoff, and the landing. The final step in the training method is a five-minute light jog to cool-down.


The shot put, a contest to see which athlete can throw a heavy ball the farthest, is another fan favorite in the track and field world, and while at first glance, it appears the hulking athlete is just using brute strength, there is actually a lot of technique. As in the long jump, the athlete starts first from a standing position, then progresses to a three-step movement, and then finally uses the full technique. There are two preferred methods for the shotput: the spin technique and the glide technique.


The discus, an athletic event that see which athlete can throw a circular disk the farthest, is one of the most spectacular sporting events to behold. It requires not only great strength but agility and technique as well. The grip is the first step. The hand is placed atop the discus with the fingers splayed and curling over the edge. Then, the athlete stands 90 degrees from the target and swings the discus behind her. Then, the athlete bends her knees and begins rotating. Finally the athlete twists her torso and tosses the object at approximately 35 degrees with great force.

Warm-Up and Cool-Down

One thing all the disciplines tend to have in common is a warm-up and cool-down consisting of a light jog for five minutes to prevent injuries. Many athletes also stretch after the cool-down since the muscles are still loose and warm.

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