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Introduction to the Highland Games

Scottish Highland Games:

An Introduction to the Heavy Events

Adriane Wilson
3X Women’s World Champion

This is a guest post by Adriane Wilson, world-renowned Track and Field Throwing Athlete, 2X Champion at Highland Games and the first ever certified Women’s Captain of Crush. To read more about this unbelievably well-rounded athlete, check out my interview with Adriane Wilson or check out her youtube channel.

My athletic background has been focused around track and field, specifically the throwing events. I have trained at the elite level for the shot put, discus and hammer throw for 10 years and I have competed in two U.S. Olympic Trials.

Upon contemplation of professional retirement from the Olympic events, I was lured into the Scottish Highland Games as a competitive substitute
. It was an easy transition in the weight room, I continued to focus on the development of a strong posterior chain to handle the heavy implements but the time in the trig proved to be the most time consuming with nine new events to master.

After a year of training for the heavy events
, my need for competition was rekindled in the Olympic shot put and I managed a 4th place finish at the 2010 USA Championships in the women’s shot put. It was clear that training the heavy events complimented my Olympic dream. London is calling for 2012. Until then, I will train for a few World Records and my third World Championship title in the Women’s Scottish Highland Games.

What are the events in the Scottish Highland Games?

Braemar Stone

(Standing Stone Toss)

The heavy stone is thrown with one hand and the stone is held at the neck until release. There is minimal movement with the feet, specific instructions may be regulated by the head judge.

Men: 20-26lbs.
Women: 13-18lbs.

Open Stone

(Similar to the Olympic Shot Put)

Any style of approach is acceptable to throw the stone but one foot must remain inside the trig at all times. Most throwers use the glide technique or a variation of the rotational spin to complete their throw.
Men: 16-22lbs.
Women: 8-12lbs.

Why is there no standard weight for the stone events?

Stones are chosen by the Athletic Director and it is up to their discretion the weight, texture, and shape of the stone. The stone is weighed prior to the game and will be used annually for the festival. Throwers may use tape or an elastic wrap for their throwing wrist for support.

Weight for Distance

Metal weight is held with one hand and thrown from one or two turns inside the trig. One foot must remain in the trig at all times and throwers frequently use tape on their fingers to prevent ripped calluses and blisters. Occasionally, throwers will use a hook grip on the round ring or D-handle for the throw.

Light Weight for Distance
Men: 28lbs.
Women: 14lbs.
Masters: 28lbs.

Heavy Weight for Distance
Men: 56lbs.
Women: 28lbs.
Masters: 42lbs. or 56lbs.

Scottish Hammer Throw

Round metal ball attached to a long rod made from rattan, wood, bamboo or PVC. The hammer is thrown with two hands on the handle of the stick and generates speed by winding the hammer around the thrower’s head. The thrower’s feet must remain stationary throughout the throw and cannot pass the wooden trig at any time. Occasionally, throwers will wear boots with hammer blades or spikes attached at the toe for added leverage.

Light Hammer Throw:
Men: 16lbs.
Women: 12lbs.

Heavy Hammer Throw:
Men: 22lbs.
Women: 16lbs.

Caber Toss

Most recognizable event of the Scottish Highland Games. The caber does not have a regulation size or weight but must be made of wood. The caber is positioned upright for the thrower with the heavy end on top. The bottom may be tapered for easier hand placement and the attempt is established when the caber leaves the ground.

Generally, the fingers are interlocked together and the bottom of the caber rests in the palms of the hands. The thrower manages control of the caber by hugging the caber close to their shoulder and neck during the throw. The caber is an event of accuracy, there is no measurement for distance but each thrower has three attempts to turn the caber.

The toss is scored when the caber is flipped end over end and its position on the ground in relation to the thrower determines a clock score. For example, the thrower is standing at 6 o’clock and the caber flips over and lands slightly left of center. If the foot placement of the thrower upon the pull is 6 o’clock, the score would result in 11:00 or a time decided by the judge following behind the thrower.

A turn can be scored between 9:00-12:00 or 12:00 to 3:00. The perfect throw is 12:00. However, quite often the caber is too heavy or long for a thrower and the caber does not reach past a vertical position to score a turn. A side judge would establish the score by the degree of movement of the caber. A protractor would be handy to score 0-90° from the sidelines.

Weight for Height

Implement is thrown with one hand overhead to clear a fixed or knock off crossbar.

Weights Used in the Weight for Height:
Men: 56lbs.
Women: 28lbs.
Masters: 56lbs. or 42lbs.

Sheaf Toss

Burlap sack filled with rope or twine that is thrown for height over a fixed or knock off bar crossbar with a pitchfork.

Sheaf Toss Weight:
Men: 20lbs. or 16lbs.
Women: 12lbs. or 10lbs.
Masters: 20lbs. or 16lbs.

How are the height events scored?

Similar to the high jump or pole vault, each competitor has three attempts at each height. The thrower may pass earlier heights; however, once the thrower has begun the event, he or she must attempt each progressive height throughout the competition. Three misses at a height results in the elimination of the competition. In the case of a tie, the judge will determine the winner based on the fewest number of misses from the tied competitors throughout the event.

Some athletes choose the spin technique but Scottish tradition recognizes a standing throw only in the height events.

What is the trig?

The trig is a wooden toe board in the front of the competitor’s throwing box in the distance events. It is secured in the ground to provide a stop board for the thrower and establish a common measuring site.

How do you score the events?

The Athletic Director determines the number of events for a particular game but generally the winner of each event will receive one point for first place and second place will receive two points etc. The competitor with the lowest score is the winner.

How do you compete in a game?

Most games ask you to fill out a registration form with an entry fee and poof! You’re in. Make sure you show up with your kilt, a good attitude, and a lot of ibuprofen. There are many online forums to help out the new throwers with questions on technique, game schedules, and general inquiries regarding the events. Most throwers visit the North American Scottish Games Athletics site ( to view results and records. There are regional clubs and athletic groups as well to aid in the networking of Athletic Directors and competitors.

Many thanks to Adriane for putting together this great article explaining the events in the Scottish Highland Games. Once again, congrats on your fantastic accomplishment on becoming the first woman certified as Captain of Crush as well. All the best to you in your future training, Adriane! -Jedd-


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One Response to “Introduction to the Highland Games”

  1. Diesel Crew – Muscle Building, Athletic Development, Strength Training, Grip Strength » » Viewer Feedback – Grip Training for Throwers Review Says:

    […] have probably heard of Adriane before under her maiden name, Blewitt. She is a decorated Highland Games competitor, having won the Women’s World Championship on 3 separate […]

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