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Sprint into the action-packed arena of track and field with the inside scoop on words that will make you sound like a seasoned pro!

From the tension of the starting blocks to the glory of a photo finish, mastering these 30 dynamite terms will have you racing ahead in conversations and leaving competitors in the dust.

On your marks, get set, let’s talk track!

Must-Know Track and Field Terms, Phrases and Slang:

  1. Anchor
  2. Baton
  3. Block start
  4. Crossbar
  5. Decathlon
  6. Foul
  7. Heptathlon
  8. Hurdles
  9. Javelin
  10. Kick
  11. Lap
  12. Marathon
  13. Pace
  14. Personal best
  15. Qualifying
  16. Relay
  17. Shot put
  18. Sprint
  19. Stagger
  20. Starting blocks
  21. Steeplechase
  22. Stride
  23. Track
  24. Triple jump
  25. Vault
  26. Wind-aided
  27. Zone
  28. Photo finish
  29. Pole vault
  30. Discus throw
Track and Field

#1 Anchor

The final runner in a relay race, often the fastest or most reliable member of the team. Their performance can be critical in securing victory, especially in close races.

#2 Baton

A smooth, cylindrical stick passed between runners in a relay race. It is the physical representation of the team’s collaborative effort and successful exchanges are key to winning.

#3 Block start

The technique used by sprinters and hurdlers at the start of a race to explode out of starting blocks. Proper block starts can dramatically improve an athlete’s reaction time and initial acceleration.

#4 Crossbar

The horizontal bar athletes must clear during high jump and pole vault events. It is both the object of focus and the ultimate challenge, as it determines the height achieved in the event.

#5 Decathlon

A grueling 10-event track and field competition, held over two days, which tests athletes’ endurance, speed, and skill across a range of events. Men’s decathlon is a true test of all-around athleticism.

#6 Foul

An infraction of the rules, for example, stepping over the line in shot put or long jump. Committing a foul leads to the attempt being disqualified, which can impact an athlete’s results significantly.

#7 Heptathlon

A seven-event competition for women that spans two days and measures speed, strength, and stamina across different track and field disciplines. It crowns the most versatile female athletes.

#8 Hurdles

Hurdles is both a type of race and the actual barriers used in the event. In track and field, hurdles races involve athletes running over a series of evenly spaced obstacles called hurdles, which are typically made of lightweight metal or plastic.

#9 Javelin

An event where athletes throw a long, spear-like implement as far as possible. The javelin must land tip-first within marked sector lines to be measured for distance.

#10 Kick

Refers to a runner’s final acceleration towards the finish line. A strong kick often involves a strategic burst of speed, crucial for winning a race or securing a better position.

#11 Lap

One complete circuit around the track, typically 400 meters in a standard outdoor stadium. The number of laps varies based on the distance of the race.

#12 Marathon

A long-distance road running event covering 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles). Known for its grueling length, the marathon is both a competitive race and a popular mass-participation event.

#13 Pace

The consistent speed at which a runner travels during a race, often calculated per mile or kilometer. Maintaining the right pace is vital for endurance races to conserve energy and achieve target finish times.

#14 Personal Best

Also known as a “PB,” it is an athlete’s best performance time in a specific event over their career. Surpassing a personal best is a significant achievement indicating improvement.

#15 Qualifying

The process by which athletes meet certain standards or times to enter a competition. Qualifying can occur through specific trials, meeting entry standards, or ranking positions.

#16 Relay

In track and field, a relay race is an event where teams of athletes compete by running successive portions of a race, each athlete covering a specific segment of the total distance.

#17 Shot Put

An athletic field event where competitors throw a heavy spherical object known as a “shot” as far as they can. The shot put combines strength, technique, and body control to achieve the best distance.

#18 Sprint

Sprints are short distance track races that demand maximum speed from the athlete, usually ranging from 100 to 400 meters. Both quick acceleration and explosive power are essential for success in these fast-paced events.

#19 Stagger

The stagger refers to the varying starting positions of runners in track races that begin with a curve, such as 200m, 400m, and relay races. It ensures that all athletes run the same distance despite the curve.

#20 Starting Blocks

Starting blocks are apparatuses used by runners for a stable and powerful launch at the beginning of a sprint race. They are adjustable and allow the athlete to push off with maximum force.

#21 Steeplechase

The steeplechase is a track event that features barriers and water jumps over the distance of 3000 meters. It tests an athlete’s endurance, speed, and obstacle-clearing abilities.

#22 Stride

A stride refers to the complete cycle of a runner’s step, from the moment one foot touches the ground to the moment the same foot contacts the ground again. Efficient striding is crucial for speed and reducing fatigue.

#23 Track

The track in track and field refers to the oval-shaped running surface used for sprints, distance races, and relays. It usually consists of lanes marked by lines, typically made from materials like tartan (a type of all-weather synthetic track surface), which provide a consistent footing for athletes.

#24 Triple Jump

An athletic event where the competitor runs down the track and performs a hop, a step, and then a jump into the sand pit. This challenging sequence tests an athlete’s speed, rhythm, and power.

#25 Vault

In track and field, “vault” generally refers to the Pole Vault event where athletes sprint with a pole and use it to vault over a high crossbar. Success in this event requires a blend of speed, strength, and gymnastics skill.

#26 Wind-aided

A term used when a tailwind exceeds the allowable limit (usually 2.0 meters per second) during a sprint or jump event. Performances assisted by such winds are not eligible for record purposes due to the advantage gained.

#27 Zone

In relay races, the “zone” refers to the designated area where runners must exchange the baton. Precise coordination and timing within this area are crucial to successfully passing the baton without losing momentum or incurring penalties.

#28 Photo Finish

A term describing the use of a finish-line camera to determine the winner of a race when competitors cross the line at nearly the same time. It captures a precise image to identify the positions in which competitors finish.

#29 Pole Vault

An event where an athlete uses a long, flexible pole as an aid to jump over a high bar. The pole vaulter must skillfully combine speed, strength, and agility to clear the greatest height without knocking the bar off.

#30 Discus Throw

The discus throw is a field event where athletes throw a heavy disc—called a discus—attempting to achieve the greatest distance. The discus is a heavy lenticular disc and is thrown from a circle 2.5 meters in diameter.

Track and Field


What are some Track and Field terms for beginners?

“Anchor,” “Baton,” and “Block start” are some Track and Field terms beginners should start with. These give insight into relay races, equipment used, and how racers commence.

What are some funny Track and Field terms?

“Shot put” and “Foul” are some funny Track and Field terms that might amuse due to their blunt nature or when imagined literally, they inject a bit of humor into the sport.

What is a famous Track and Field phrase?

“On your marks,” is a famous Track and Field phrase, signaling athletes to ready themselves at the starting line, indicating the imminent start of the race and propelling intense focus.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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