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Track & Field Safety

Although without the same potential of injury that can be received in such sports as soccer, rugby or boxing, athletics nevertheless present situations from which injury can result. Knowledge of these, and how to avoid them, is an important element of the coach's knowledge.

Running events

At the Track

  • Athletes wearing appropriate clothing and shoes - jewellery removed or protected (studs)
  • Instil good lane discipline into your athletes
    • warm-up only in the outer lanes
    • observe local 'fast lane' arrangements
    • do not hold 'conferences' on the track
    • be always considerate of the needs of other track users
    • on completion of a run, move out of the inside lanes
  • Be conscious that grass and synthetic surfaces become slippery in wet conditions
  • The infield is generally the only provision for throws training. Instil a habit of not crossing the infield to get from one side of the track to the other - even when throwing is not taking place

Running away from the Track

  • Roads are made for vehicles; runners should avoid running on them where possible. Where there are footpaths, runners should be encouraged to use them, unless they are frequently interrupted by road intersections or by their worn state or/plus fatigue makes foot and ankle injuries a probability
  • Roads are hard surfaces, which increases the likelihood of stress problems. Keep a careful check on your athletes when high mileage and speed work is programmed
  • Athletes should run facing the oncoming traffic, even when running on pavements
  • Runners should be seen - especially at night- wearing light, bright, or reflective clothing. Even in daylight with a low, bright sun from behind, the driver's vision is often impaired
  • Athletes wearing appropriate clothing and shoes


  • Athletes wearing appropriate clothing and shoes - jewellery removed or protected (studs)
  • Care should be taken to see that improvised equipment of the types used, particularly with novices, is safe
  • Hurdle top bar should be secure
  • They should be correctly placed relative to their use with the counter-balance weights also relatively correctly positioned
  • Hurdles should NEVER be crossed in the wrong direction (i.e. from the landing side)

Field Events

  • Athletes wearing appropriate clothing and shoes - jewellery removed or protected (studs)
  • In horizontal jumps see that:
    • run-up areas dry and clear of foreign objects
    • no-jump indicator board recesses are safely blocked out
    • athletes' footwear and protection are adequate
    • platforms for skill work are large enough and strong enough for their purpose
    • other athletes do not encroach onto the runway when in use
    • a proper cover sheet should cover all landing areas (high jump, pole vault). Size and density should be adequate for the use to which they are being put (i.e. heavier jumpers and those landing from greater heights require the thickest protection, while those of inconsistent or long flight parabolas need the greatest area)
    • elastic crossbars used in training lessen the risk of injury and improve confidence - ensure uprights do not topple if the athlete lands on the elastic crossbar
    • do not use triangular crossbars for 'floppers'
    • fibre-glass vaulting poles break if misused, therefore always protect the distant end with a proper pole 'bung', hold it correctly, i.e. with the outside of its natural bend top-left (at 11 o'clock or 300°) in the plant position. Avoid dropping it (arrange for people to catch it after the vault). Do not leave it lying about outside its tube for people to step on. Always use a pole of the correct strength, according to the weight of athlete using it and the amount of force that he can put into it. A pole bending more than 90° is being overstressed. Do not use a fibre-glass pole where there is an old-fashioned box with a vertical back.
  • Throwing events
    • Cage is safe and cage doors appropriately set
    • Discus, Shot, Hammer throwing circles are dry and clear of foreign objects
    • Javelin run up dry and clear of foreign objects
    • Throwing implements fit for purpose
    • Never stand in front of the thrower
    • Never stand in the cage with a thrower
    • Never throw towards anyone - therefore the thrower must look to ensure that the landing area is clear before throwing
    • Never run with a javelin or run to collect it
    • Never collect the implement until all have thrown, then collect together
    • Always carry javelins vertically, point down in front of you
    • Always push the javelin into a vertical position, then pull it vertically from the ground

Coaches should additionally ensure that implements are well maintained and stored appropriately. Ensure that the cages, surfaces and rims of throwing circles are safe.

Throwing areas should be roped off so that others cannot encroach into the throwing area.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2000) Track and Field Safety [WWW] Available from: [Accessed