What Are the Different Types of Track and Field Games?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Track and field games are athletic competitions that take place in a stadium that has a running track and field area for non-running based events. Some of the oldest forms of athletic events, track and field events have been used to prove strength and speed since the days of the earliest Olympics. Some of the main track and field games include running, throwing, and jumping events.

Track and field games involving running include races of many different distances. Sprints are generally very short races that last, at most, 400 meters (1312 ft). Sprinting requires incredible speed that can usually only be maintained over very short distances. Middle and long distance running competitions may include anything from 400 meters and up; most track and field races have a maximum length of 10,000 meters (6.2 miles).

In addition to regular races, running-based track and field events include relays and hurdles. Relays are races in which several runners work together in a competitive team, each taking a particular leg of a race. In many races, the relay runners must pass a baton to the next runner at each change, requiring coordination and careful matching of pace. Hurdles are races where competitors must leap over waist-high barriers at set intervals throughout the race. This combination of running and jumping requires a unique mix of strength, speed, and agility.


Jumping games are often quite spectacular to behold, as competitors often seem to push their bodies beyond the limits of human capacity. In the long jump, competitors sprint down a track before leaping as far as they can into a sand pit. Running style, take-off, and jumping position is critically important to success in this game. In the high jump, competitors fling themselves over a suspended bar that is raised after each successful round. Jumping position for this sport has evolved throughout the years, with most 21st century high jumpers preferring a technique known as the Fosbury flop, in which the jumper angles his body head-first and belly-up over the bar.

Most spectacular of all the track and field games may be pole vaulting, which is similar to the high jump but allows the achievement of much greater heights. Holding a flexible rod, a pole vaulter sprints toward a suspended bar over a mat. As he approaches the mat, the front end of the rod or pole is planted into the ground, allowing the competitor to leap off the ground, use the momentum of the pole to swing up over the suspended bar, and flop down to the thick mat below.

Throwing games require strength and flexibility, and usually come in three main types: javelin, discus, and shot put. Javelin throwing is one of the oldest track and field games known to man, and involved the hurling of a long pointed rod. Discus throwing looks a little like hard-core frisbee, with 2011 world record throws reaching upward of 156 ft (47.5 m). Shot put involves the throwing of a small, heavy ball, though not as heavy as in earlier times; records show that shot put originally was done with rocks or cannonballs.


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Post 2

What bothers me sometimes about the track and field coverage on TV is that they'll spend a lot of time showing the flashier competitions, like the sprints and the jumps, but they rarely spend much time on the javelin or hammer throw or other field sports. Those people train just as hard as anyone else, but you never see the best discus thrower on a box of cereal later.

Post 1

I always look forward to seeing the track and field events in the Summer Olympics. To me, it's the best kind of competition because there are usually 3 or 4 athletes who could win an event. It's not like gymnastics, where there's usually a favorite and then everyone else.

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