Track and field is a very unique sport because it encompasses many different competitions in one event. The sport of track and field includes running, jumping, and throwing events. Track and field teams usually have many different members, each competing in events they have individually trained for. Events are mostly individuals competing, but some require small groups to compete. An individual or group winning their event earns points for their team and the team with the most points at the end of the entire competition wins. Every event in track and field requires agility, training, and specialized equipment.
Banana steps are a fun and simple tool to improve your agility, whether you're a track and field athlete or not. Banana steps are small hurdles that are 6, 12, 18, or 24 inches off of the ground. You can use them to jump, run, or skip over. Banana steps are made out of PVC pipes and you can usually find them in bright colors like yellow, green, and orange. They should weigh only 1 to 2 pounds. Banana steps should cost about $10 to $20 per step or you can buy them as a set of six for around $30.
Batons are used for track athletes who run in relay events. Batons are usually made of aluminum but you can also buy plastic ones. Batons were first implemented in 1893 for track races. Before that, relay teams would pass a little flag. For practice any baton is good but for races, batons are color coded per team and have to be made of aluminum. You can buy a baton for $3 to $5 or a dozen for about $30.
A cross bar is the part of a high jump or pole vault that you physically jump over. The standard cross bar is 13 feet and 1.5 inches long. In the Olympics, there has been high jump since the very first games in 1896. There also used to be a standing jump where you jump over a cross bar without a running start. You should only buy a cross bar if you already have the holders and a landing mat for your landing. You can get a practice foam cross bar for about $30 but a regulation fiberglass cross bar will be $100 to $150.
A discus is pretty much the only important thing you need if you want to be a discus thrower. The discus cannot weigh less than 2kg, 4.4 pounds, for men. For women it is 1kg, 3.2 ounces. The discus is traditionally made from wood with metal around the outside, but there are others made from fiberglass. Discus has been around since the ancient Olympics. The style has changed very little over thousands of years. For beginners, a cheap discus can cost $20 to $30 bucks but for more experienced athletes a discus can be up to $200.
A discus cart is a very useful tool and can save your energy and strength at practice and at meets. A discus cart holds discuses, anywhere from a dozen to twenty four of them. You can get a cart that is only for discuses or there are also carts that have carriers for shot puts, javelins, and even more. A discus cart will have 5 inch wheels to move it around the track stadium. A discus cart will cost $300 to $700.
A finish line is not something you can really buy. Usually a finish line is painted onto the track. Sometimes the finish line is permanently on the track but for meets it'll often be painted over to be brighter for the races. If you want to create your own finish line on the street or backyard you can use white spray paint, tape, or a string. A sector line kit, with tape and staples, will cost about $50 and can be used to tape down a finish line.
Hammer and weight throwers are usually called just hammer. You only need to buy one if you are a hammer thrower. Weight throwers originate from old highland games in Scotland and England. Hammers come in multiple colors and are usually made of an iron ball attached to a metal wire with a handle. Hammers have to weigh 16 pounds and cannot be longer than 46.3 inches. You can buy a hammer and weight thrower for $150 to $200.
Hammer gloves help throwing athletes to grip their hammer. The same gloves can also be used for other throwing events like javelin and shot put. For practice you can buy or use any gloves like baseball batting gloves or even gardening gloves. In competition though, you can't wear gloves that cover your fingers, though your thumb can be covered. In competition athletes usually wear a glove on their non dominant hand. A good competition hammer glove can cost $10 to $20 per glove.
High jump pits are something you have to have if you're going to be a high jumper or pole vaulter. The jump pits are soft landing spots made of foam with a plastic covering usually. To be considered regulation for competition a high jump pit has to be 16.4 feet by 9.8 feet. If you need to buy a high jump pit it will cost upwards of $6,000 so you have to make sure you're going to use it. Often, teams will provide pits for athletes to practice on so that they don't have to invest in their own pit.
A high jump is the name of the sport but also the important piece that makes the sport possible. The high jumps are two metal poles that hold up the crossbar. The high jumps can be raised or lowered for different heights. High jumps used to be made of wood but now they're made of lightweight metal. You can buy a high jump with wheels to make it easier to transport. If you are buying high jumps you're going to need to separately buy a cross bar and a pit. Just the high jumps will cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000.
Hurdles are the physical piece of equipment that hurdlers have to jump over to complete a race. Hurdles are made of metal on the bottom and a wooden or fiberglass top. The hurdles are designed to be bottom heavy so when they're barely touched they will fall over. Old hurdles were designed in a "T" shape not the modern "L" and when they fell they would rise up and be more likely to trip you. For most hurdle races there will be ten hurdles. For practice you might only need one to three hurdles but to run a full race you'll need ten. Per hurdle it'll cost $200 to $500.
Javelins are the main tool for another throwing sport. A javelin is basically a long spear that you throw as far as you can in order to win. Javelin has been around since the Ancient Greek Olympics. The javelin is made of wood or lightweight metal and has a metal tip so it will stick in the ground. Modern javelins will usually have a soft material grip to help you throw it. To be legal the javelin has to be at least 102 inches long and weigh at least 1.8 pounds for men. For women it is 86 inches and 1.3 pounds. You only really need one javelin and you can buy it for anywhere from $200 to $600.
Jump boards are a small and simple piece of equipment for long jumpers and triple jumpers. The board is a square wooden or synthetic square in the ground. To complete a legal jump you have to take off before or on the board. The board has to be at least 1 meter from the end of the runway. You want to take off as close to the end of the board as you can but if you go over it, your jump will be disqualified. Fancy jump boards will have sensors in it to tell where your foot hits. A lot of tracks will already have a jump board permanently attached to the ground but you can buy one to install yourself. A jump board will cost around $150.
Lap counters help you if you're an official or runner by telling you how many laps around the track you have left. You only need a lap counter for races longer than 800m because any shorter than that you don't have enough laps to count. A lap counter is usually a flip board with numbers on it. You flip the numbers down counting how many laps you have to go. You flip it whenever the person in first place finishes a lap. You can buy a lap counter with a bell attached to it or you should have a bell to ring on the last lap. You can use any number flipper to count down laps but if you're going to buy a fancy lap counter it'll cost up to $450.
Markers are for throwing sports to show where the throw landed. Markers can be pretty much made of anything, though for the most part they're made of metal. You can use anything as a marker if you're just beginning to throw and don't want to spend money. As long as it is heavy enough to stay in the ground and not move it should work. If you want to buy legitimate metal markers they will cost about $2 to $5 each. To be safe you should probably buy at least a dozen.
Measuring tapes can be used for a lot of things in track and field. You can use a measuring tape to mark the distance of a race or to spread out the starting blocks. You can also use measuring tape to determine the distance of a throw from the throwing spot to the marker where it landed. You can get a measuring tape made out of fiberglass or paper. You can choose how long you want the maximum on the tape to be, anywhere from 50 feet to 350 feet. A measuring tape will cost you from $20 to $100 depending on the length and material.
Megaphones are definitely not necessary if you're a beginner but you will see more advanced athletes and their coaches using them. At crowded meets where your coach can't get down to the track level, a megaphone helps them to give instructions from the stands without having to yell. Megaphones are made of metal and hard plastic. You can usually adjust the volume. There's not really any track and field specific megaphone, you can get one at any store that has one. A good megaphone will cost $50 to $100.
Pit levelers and rakes are for the sand of long jump and triple jump pits. After you land in the pit it can leave a pretty big hole in the sand so a rake can even out the sand to smooth it out for the next person. There's no need for any fancy rake specific for track and field. You can use the same rake for the pit as you use for grass and weeds in the backyard. A rake should only cost around $50.
A pole vault bag is a bag for your pole vault to help you carry it around. Most pole vault bags will hold multiple pole vaults. The bag will be made of nylon or polyester and have a zipper and two handles to help carry it more easily. A pole vault bag is pretty useful so that you can carry your pole vaults without any problems. A pole vault bag can cost up to $100.
Pole vault grip tape is an essential if you are a pole vaulter or a pole vault coach. Pole vault grip tape is the sticky tape around a pole vault that you put on to improve your grip. Some pole vaults come with tape on and some don't. Either way, after a while pole vault tape will wear out so it is important to replace it. The tape is sticky and made up of cotton cloth usually. You can buy a 25 yard roll of tape and that should last you for a while depending on how much you pole vault. A big roll of tape should only cost about $20.
The first piece of equipment that you should buy as a beginner pole vaulter is a pole vault. Pole vaults were made of wood when the sport was born and then bamboo starting in 1904. Today most pole vaults are made of fiberglass or another synthetic material. Lengths vary for most adults from thirteen feet to just over seventeen feet. The sizing of a pole vault is very dependent on you as a person. As a beginner you can buy just one pole vault, but Olympic level athletes have multiple pole vaults that they carry with them. A pole vault will cost you anywhere from $300 to $1,000.
Pole vault pits are very similar to high jump pits. They're basically just big foam cushions so that when you land after a pole vault you don't hurt yourself. Pole vault pits are bigger than high jump pits. They have space for the spot where the track ends for your pole vault to go into the box. Pole vault pits can be up to 30 feet by 30 feet and their cushions are usually really thick. You should only buy a pole vault pit if you don't have access to a track with a pit already there. A pole vault pit will cost upwards of $10,000.
Race clocks are what tell time during a track race, both for you as a runner and for the rest of the people in the stadium. Almost all race clocks are digital. Most go down to the second, though Olympic level clocks count down to the hundreth of a second. Race clocks you can buy come with a tripod and a remote control to start and stop the clock. You only need a race clock for races, and you can just use a stopwatch for practice. A race clock will cost between $1,000 and $2,000.
Shot puts are the most important tool if you're going to be a shot putter. A shot putt is essentially just a heavy rock that people throw from their shoulder as far as they can. In the Olympics the regulation shot put is about 16 pounds for men and 8.8 pounds for women. However, shot puts come in all kinds of weights for practice. They're usually made of steel or another dense metal. For competition you only need one shot put but you can buy multiple for practice and other purposes. A shot put will cost around $100 to $300.
Spandex are tight shorts that track and field athletes wear, especially at practice. Spandex are made of stretchy athletic material. They are designed to hug the leg tightly like a second skin. Spandex come in every color and some track and field athletes own an entire rainbow of spandex. Popular brands of spandex include Nike, Adidas, and Lululemon. For some people, spandex are part of their uniform. Especially for short distance runners spandex are good because it hugs your leg and increases mobility. You can buy spandex shorts for as low as $3 and as much as $30.
Spikes are a part of a track shoe that help with traction no matter the event that you are in. Certain spikes are for short distance running. Others are for long distances. There are also spikes for long jump and high jump. There are two types of track spikes, needle and pyramid. They get their names from the shape that the spikes are. You have to buy spikes separately from the track shoes. The metal spikes come in bags of anywhere from 25 to 100 spikes. These bags will cost $5 to $15 depending on the number of spikes.
Starting blocks are important if you want to be a short distance track runner. 800m and above don't use starting blocks but runners in the 100, 200, and 400 meter races use starting blocks. Starting blocks help you to push off more quickly to get running at top speed more quickly. Usually starting blocks will be provided by the meet but for practice and for personal use, a set of blocks is good to have. Usually starting blocks are made of metal and are adjustable.
If you watch any track and field meet the coach will have one thing around their neck, a stopwatch. Stopwatches are important because they allow you to accurately capture how fast you ran. Most stopwatches are small and digital with buttons to start, stop, and reset the watch. There are fancier stopwatches for race officials that come with a printer to print the times of runners while the clock still runs. If you want to take track seriously, investing in a stopwatch is important and can help you improve your running.
Throw cages are something you will need if you want to be a hammer or discus thrower. Throw cages serve two purposes. Firstly, throw cages protect both the spectators and other athletes from heavy flying metal. Throw cages also help you to complete a legal throw which has to land within a certain area in order to count. Throw cages are made from aluminum or steel posts with nets all around. Some cheaper throw cages are made from regular cloth netting, but more expensive ones are made of metal. A lot of throw cages are already on the tracks but you can buy your own. A throw cage will cost between $1,000 and $5,000.
Track shirts can be pretty much any shirt, because almost anything can be used for running. Preferably, you want to wear an athletic shirt, one that is tight on the body, though not constricting. You want a track shirt to be made of breathable material. More popular than a t-shirt, you can wear a tank top style track shirt, also made out of breathable, light material. Most track uniforms for meets are tank tops. You can buy custom tank tops with designs for races. Tanks can range in price from $10 to $50 depending on brand and quality.
There are many different kinds of track shoes you can buy. Most track shoes have spikes on them, though the size depends on the event. For example, short distance runners need to wear lightweight spikes that allow for the runners to bounce a lot and run up on the balls of their feet. Longer distance track shoes are bigger and offer more support. For events like hammer throw and sicus, spikes aren't recommended, you need shoes that have grip on cement. Track shoes vary a lot based on event, size, and material. You can buy cheap track shoes for about $30 but if you want higher level shoes, they will cost upwards of $200.
Track shorts are pretty much any short that you can run or be athletic in. A popular kind of track shorts are spandex, they are comfortable and lightweight. Other kinds of track shorts include short running shorts. These usually have some mesh built in, a lot like a swimsuit, and are made of very light material to not weigh down the runners legs. You can buy multiple different kinds of track shorts. These can cost as low as $5 and as high as $25.
A lot of equipment goes into track and field and almost all of it is necessary for competition! However, many of the items are specific to different events in track and field. You do not need a high jump pit to compete in the hammer throw, but you do need a hammer and hammer gloves! Knowing what event you are going to participate in beforehand allows you to purchase the equipment you will need. However, apparel such as track shorts, track shirts, and track shoes are all things competitors in every event will need.
Track and field equipment is unique because every event has its own equipment necessities. You cannot use a discus in the hammer throw and you don't jump over a hurdle in the high jump. Every piece of equipment is utilized in a very specific way and is required for different tasks.
The most important track and field equipment for you to purchase varies based on what event you will be competing in. Along with the apparel that you need to purchase for training or competing, you will need equipment specific to your event. So, if you compete in the javelin throw, you will need track shoes, track shirts, track shorts, and a javelin. But if you run in the long relay, you would not need a javelin but would need a baton.
The apparel necessary for track and field is similar to normal athletic clothing pricing, depending on what company is making your clothes. Nike or Adidas track clothing will be more expensive than generic brands. When it comes to specific equipment like a hammer or discus, the price depends on the weight, size, and quality. A discus for a newer and younger competitor may only cost $25, but one for an Olympic-level athlete may be $125. Remember that higher-priced items will likely last you longer, but if you are new to the sport, cheaper options may be the way to go since they will still get the job done.