Highland Games Basics: Holding the Stone

Highland Games Basics: Holding the Stone

We all know that a stone’s not meant to be thrown like a baseball or even skipped along the crystal clear waters of your local lake. And whether you’re throwing a two-seam fastball or an index finger hook to skip a flat rock, we know this: it’s all in the grip.

So, if you’re looking to throw either the Braemar Stone or Open Stone, it’s best you have a good “grip” on the event (dad jokes are a given at this point in my life).

On the Pad of my Hand? Huh?

The worst thing you can do with the stone is have it sitting too far down in your hand. Having a stone nestled in the fortune teller’s wheelhouse is a good way to throw a knucklestone (this is where the stone flies through the air without rotation) or have it drop down out of your hand on release. Keep the stone up on the “pad” of your hand. Meaning, the fingers and thumb are what holds it in place, not your palm.  With the stone on the “pad” of your hand you put yourself in the position to finish the throw with a big “flick” of the wrist.

Fingers – Up Against the Stone … and Spread ‘Em?

Now, there are some varied opinions on how you should spread your fingers on the stone. I know that Jon O’Neil (World Record Holder in the Braemar Stone at 47 feet) likes to bring his fingers in closer for the heavy Braemar Strone than he does for the Open Stone. He told me that because the stone is that much heavier, you need a stronger base to allow your fingers to “flick” the stone at the finish. I can’t argue with a guy that throws a stone that far, and after trying this at the Celtic Classic a few years back, he helped me move up a spot in the event. You have to find a comfortable “spread” for you; it will differ a little based on your hand size, stone size and just general comfort. But, we can all agree that you need your fingers somewhat closer together and that you need all your fingers on the stone.

Neck to Neck with the Stone

Again, it seems the placement of the stone on your neck is a matter of preference and comfort, too. I will say that a much larger number of gliders in the stone prefer the stone tucked in closer to the chin (and sometimes under it) while the spinners and South African style throwers prefer a much “higher” stone hold. If you’re a glider and you’re holding the stone back behind your ear, then you may want to change it up and try another hold much closer to your chin. The idea is to get the stone in a position where you can apply the greatest amount of force for the longest amount of time, resulting in a throw that doesn’t land so close to your feet  (as in, further).

Elbow Grease

Make sure your elbow is up as you pin that stone into your neck. A big mistake of many newer throwers is that their elbow drops and the stone loosens on their neck. As soon as that happens, you sacrifice distance and might as well be throwing that two-seamer ... and be prepared for Tommy John surgery.


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