There are not many young athletes that see themselves becoming experts in the use of the javelin. It is not a sport that gets a lot of media coverage nor is there a whole lot of money for athletes in the sport itself (commercial endorsements notwithstanding). Athletes that eventually hit on the javelin as their sport of choice do so because they enjoy the challenge of it. Becoming a top athlete with the javelin is one of the most difficult things to do because it not only requires the proper mix of speed, skill and strength but it also requires a large amount of all three.
The speed element of the javelin throw comes in during the pre-throw movements of the athlete and if they are lacking in this aspect they will not generate enough momentum to guarantee themselves a good starting velocity for the javelin. The strength element comes in during the throwing action and finally the skill comes in during the pre-throw, the throw and in the follow through. Having a good handle on all three areas of training for the javelin is the only way for an athlete to be truly successful at the sport.
There are three major parts to training to become good at the javelin; speed training, strength training and technique training. The technique portion of training for the javelin is very specific to the event itself since it deals with concepts like optimal release point and the angle of the javelin. These types of skills can not be utilized in other sports but there are many other parts of the training that can be.
The speed training that is utilized in order for an athlete to become proficient in the javelin toss is usually a combination of muscle shaping exercises and plyometric elasticity exercises. These types of exercises will be designed to mirror the actual movement as closely as possible and in the case of the javelin the actual movement is a run stride. Likewise in strength training the movement is a hurling movement and can be likened in terms of the muscles being used to throwing or hitting a ball. All of these exercises will very likely help the athlete in any other sports that they might be participating in simultaneously to the javelin toss.
There are seven stages to the full technique of a javelin throw: start, carry, withdrawal, transition, pre-delivery stride, delivery and recovery. The aim of the start and the carry is to allow the athlete to really get into their stride well and also to enable them to carry the javelin in a manner that is best suited for their arm muscles and will also allow them to throw it well when they get to the line. If an athlete is right handed (this assumption will be made throughout the rest of this article to further explain the techniques of javelin throwing) then the javelin should be held in the right hand with the tip facing forwards and in the same direction as the right elbow joint.
The athlete will then start-forward and maintain the javelin’s position relative to them as they do so. In approximately fifteen strides the runner will be at the point of withdrawal. Once they reach that point they must cease their physical holding of the javelin in place and accelerate in front of it to allow them to use the slingshot motion in order to get more force applied to the javelin in order to make it travel farther once it reaches the air. During the transition the athlete will transfer their stride from one of running up to the line to one of preparation for the eventual hurl and therefore it is designed to be a lead in to the pre-delivery stride. During the pre-delivery stride the opposite leg to the athlete’s throwing arm, the left leg, will stride forward and all of the athlete’s body will be rigid and in line with the direction of the throw. Once that has all taken place the delivery occurs with the next stride which should be more of a push-off and thrust than the previous ones as it will occur simultaneously with the athlete’s throwing of the javelin. Once that has happened then the athlete might take a few strides in order to halt themselves and remove any forward momentum that they may have been carrying.
While many athlete’s will not choose the javelin, but rather discover the aptitude for it, it is nevertheless a rewarding sport, that requires great strength and overall athleticism, and anyone who masters the skill of javelin throwing stands an excellent chance of competing in the Olympics and winning a gold medal, and what greater glory is there than that.