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Glossary of Track and Field Terms

Approach- The run-up phase of the jumping events during which the athletes build up speed for the take-off.

Lead leg- In the hurdling events this is the outstretched front leg that clears the hurdle first.

Pins/Spikes- Either term can be used to refer to the small metal implements that are screwed in to the holes in the bottom of the spikes (the shoes). Longer pins/spikes are used for softer track surfaces. Most tracks and track meets have a limit on the length of pins/spikes that are allowed since longer spikes can tear up the track surface. Many meets will inspect and measure the length of the pins in the shoes as part of the check-in process before the competition begins.

Sector- Designated landing area for the throwing events in which all thrown implements (discus, hammer, javelin, shot) must land to be considered fair.

Spikes- Lightweight specialty shoes with holes in the bottom for the insertion of metal pins. The number of holes and the type of pins used vary by event, conditions and rules. Spikes are used for competition and sometimes in training and should be worn only on soft surfaces (such as a track or track surface) to prevent wearing down the point on the pins which would reduce the traction that they offer.

Trail leg- In the hurdling events, this is the second leg to come across the hurdle. The trail leg is bent at the knee.

Trainers- These are the general all-purpose running shoes that athletes wear for warming up and less intense training sessions when spikes are not needed. They are heavier and provide more cushioning and support than spikes. Distance runners sometimes prefer to wear them in a half-size larger than their regular size to allow room for the feet to swell during longer distance runs. For most other athletes, their regular size for all of their non-athletic shoes should provide the right fit.