How To Teach Kids A Javelin Run-Up

When And How to Introduce Young Athletes To A Run-Up In The Javelin

Once a young athlete has established a sound javelin grip and an effective, controlled standing throw, it is time to introduce them to a moving approach.

Ultimately, I like young athletes to develop a nine-stride approach.

What Does a Nine-Stride Approach Look Like?

The nine-stride approach that I teach sees the young athlete carry the javelin above their shoulder for the first four strides and withdraw the javelin on the fifth stride in preparation for the throw.

Here is how I get them there.


Prior to being taught a run-up, I recommend that a young athlete should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an effective javelin grip.
  2. Control the point of the javelin.
  3. Demonstrate safe, controlled standing stabs/throws.

Once the coach is convinced that the athlete is capable of these things, some introductory run-up drills can be introduced.

My suggested sequence for a right-handed thrower is:

1. Step and Throw

  • Stand with feet parallel, shoulder-width apart, toes pointed in the direction of the throw, body square to the target.
  • The javelin is held directly above the head or throwing arm shoulder, with arm bent and elbow forward.
  • The tip of the javelin and the non-throwing arm should be pointed directly forward.
Standing Javelin Throw - Starting Position (Front View)

One-Step Stab – Starting Position

  • Keeping the javelin pointed forward and close the head, slightly withdraw the javelin by extending the throwing arm back.
  • Holding the arm back, step forward onto the left foot then throw the javelin.
  • To encourage correct timing, use the cue “step-throw”. The javelin should be held back and not pulled forward until the front foot is firmly planted on the ground.
  • Ensure both feet are pointing in the direction of the throw.
Javelin Thrower with One Foot Forward

Step and Throw

2. Walk and Throw

  • Start in the preparatory position, as described above.
  • Keeping the javelin pointed forward and close to the head, slightly withdraw the javelin by extending the throwing arm back.
  • Holding the arm back and keeping the javelin level and pointed forward, begin a walking approach of 3-5 steps.
  • Stepping onto the left foot, pull the javelin through to release it.
  • Emphasize control of the javelin during the approach and the delivery.

3. Rhythmic 3-stride approach

Introduce a quick last two steps prior the throw. The idea is to get the front foot quickly on the ground during the last stride. Therefore, the rhythm from third-last to last step will be “1…2-3” or “left…right-left”.

4. Withdraw and Throw

  • Begin as for the “step and throw” with one foot forward.
  • Turn the shoulders 90 degrees away from the direction of the throw.
  • Extend the throwing arm back so that the hand is higher than the elbow and the elbow is level to or higher than the shoulder.
  • The palm of the throwing hand should be under the javelin (“pointing to the sky”)
  • Hold the javelin level along the throwing arm, with the tip pointing forward at approximately eye level.
  • In a smooth, continuous action, the javelin is pulled forward and thrown over the shoulder in a “tennis-serve-like” action.
Demonstration of Javelin Being Withdrawn

The Withdrawn Position

With the athlete holding the javelin in a withdrawn position, progress the athlete through:

  • A “step and throw”
  • A “walking throw”
  • A walking throw with a quick last two steps.

5. Run and Throw: Three Strides

  • Stand with the right foot forward and the right arm back, holding the javelin.

Right-handed javelin thrower standing with right foot forward - side view
Three Stride Throw: Preparatory Position
  • The three strides consists of a first step onto the left foot, then a low “jump” onto the right foot and a final quick step onto the left foot into a throwing stance before pulling the javelin through.
Javelin Thrower Jumping into the Final Stride - Side View

“Jumping” into the final stride

6. Run and Throw: Beyond Three Strides

To teach a longer run-up, simply ask the athletes to add two strides at a time. i.e. A 3, 5, 7, 9  . . .  etc,  step run-up.

Once moving beyond a five-stride approach, teach athletes to carry the javelin above their shoulder for the first two strides of a seven-stride approach and the first four strides of a nine-stride approach, prior to taking the javelin back into the withdrawn position five strides before throwing.

Now Try Teaching It

Try teaching a javelin run-up using the sequence outlined above. I would love to hear how it goes. Don’t expect to progress an athlete through all of the stages in one session. Also ensure that the athlete can control the javelin through each stage before progressing them to the next one. Be patient and don’t try to rush an athlete’s development.

Do You Have Any Tips For Teaching a Javelin Run-Up?

I would love to hear them. Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by contacting me directly using the details below.

Further reading


How to Perform a Better Javelin Crossover Stride

How to Control the Point of the Javelin

CYA Membership Email

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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