The Highland Games is one of the most awaited spring and summer events in Scotland because this meaningful occasion portrays Scotland’s rich heritage in its full glory.
The Scottish Highland Games are incomplete without the unique yet immensely cherished game, Caber Toss. Spectators interestingly enjoy the game while watching fearless competitors in kilts. The game tests their stamina and balancing skills. Initially, it may seem like an uncomplicated sport, but that’s far from the truth. The Scottish Caber Toss requires strenuous training and powerful core and back muscles to lift the large caber.
Here’s everything you would want to know about the history, equipment, rules, scoring, and benefits of the widely famous Caber Toss.
Let’s dive in.
What is the Caber Toss?
The Caber toss is a traditional Scottish sport that is the most awaited part of The Scottish Highland Games alongside other fascinating sports.
This sport evaluates the athlete’s coordination, stamina, and balance as the competitors, also called the “thrower” or “tosser”, have to toss over a long wooden pole and score. The pole is usually made from the larch tree, its weight is typically 100 -180 lbs, while it is about 16-22ft tall. Moreover, one end of the pole is curved out for a comfortable grip.
This sport is played outdoors only due to the potential risk of injury when playing indoors.
Now, let’s move on to the history of Caber Toss to get a better idea of its origin and popularity.
When Was the Caber Toss Invented?
Scotland is the country of Caber Toss’ origin. Unfortunately, the exact date of its origin is swaddled in ambiguity, but it is said that the lumberjacks used to toss wooden logs across narrow chasms, and this marked the advent of the Caber Toss.
Also, to date, the Scottish caber toss is not a part of the Olympics despite its immense popularity among the Scots.
Caber Toss Equipment
Only one piece of equipment is required for Caber Toss called “caber”. It means “wooden beam”, but generally, it refers to the wooden log/pole used for tossing.
What are the Rules of Scottish Caber Toss?
Here is a list of rules you must follow when playing the Caber Toss:
- Lift the pole while cupping the end in your hands and straight shoulders.
- Run a short distance before tossing it to ensure it completes one rotation.
- On flipping, the opposite and bigger end of the caber should hit the ground, while the smaller end should face the tosser.
How to Play Caber Toss?
With the help of an assistant, the tosser makes the pole stand perpendicularly straight on the ground and ensures it doesn’t tilt sideways.
While leaning the wooden log against your shoulder and kneeling, the thrower holds it and slowly picks it up.
Make sure you maintain the leg momentum for stability.
To make an ideal toss, take a few steps back that help gain momentum and thrust the pole up, hoping it will land so that the curved-off side is perfectly away from the thrower.
Caber Toss Scoring
Scoring in this Scotland-originated game does not depend upon the distance of the throw but its accuracy.
The judges will check how accurately the tosser hurled the log and how perfectly it landed. The starting position of the wooden pole is called 6 o’clock, while the perfect throw is called a 12 o’clock toss, where the caber flips with the straightest vertical angle.
Non-perfect tosses have terms like 3 o’clock and 10 o’clock, both referring to the landing angle.
The officials also evaluate the sportsmen’s throw during the competition by standing at various angles for a precise picture of the throw. Usually, they take a look from behind the thrower or from the sides.
Health Benefits of playing Scottish Caber Toss
1. Increased upper body strength:
Tossing a heavy wooden log of approximately 100 pounds is not easy. It demands robust upper-body strength while helping you enhance your range of motion. Moreover, it is a form of weight training.
2. Increased core strength:
The Larch-tree caber is quite heavy, and hurling it enables you to strengthen your core muscles.
3. Cardiovascular workout:
When playing the Scottish Caber Toss, you must run a small distance, pick up the heavyweight pole while balancing it, and then toss it in the air.
It significantly increases the heart rate and proves to be an effective workout.
4. Increased precision:
In addition to muscular mental, and physical strength, you need precision to play Caber Toss successfully. Regular practice of tossing the wooden log helps your balancing skills and accuracy.
5. Strengths back muscles:
Lifting the heavy load of the wooden pole activates the muscles in your back and similarly trains them as weightlifting.
Competitors must do weight training before performing in the game because weak back muscles pose the risk of severe injury.
Caber Toss Records
- Jaisen Baines achieved the record of the most Caber Tosses in one hour from Montreal, Canada. He managed to toss the camera 161 times.
- In 2018 at the Middleton Heart of the Valley festival in Middleton, Nova Scotia, Canada, Daniel Frame recorded the most caber tosses in 3 minutes (16 tosses).
Exciting Facts about Caber Toss
- Women are highly under-represented in this sport as it is difficult for women to lift such heavy wooden poles.
- Besides Scotland, this sport is famous in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
- If the wooden pole weighs less, soaking it in water helps add weight and prevent it from drying out.
- While performing this sport, the competitor should wear a kilt, a knee-length Scottish skirt for men made of tartan.
- Caber toss primarily focuses on the glutes, biceps, calves, hamstrings, forearms, lower back muscles, and core.
- According to medical professionals, engaging in games like the Caber Toss helps eliminate mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Caber toss has been and always will be one of the most awaited events of the Highland Games.
Every year, participants from around the globe participate in international competitions arranged by various Scottish heritage associations to showcase the strength, techniques, poise, and stamina of men and women of all backgrounds.
Although challenging and strenuous, it holds first place in Scotland’s traditional sports.
Furthermore, the game not only has advantages for physical strength, but it also improves mental well-being by eradicating anxiety and stress.