Help Young Athletes Improve Their Javelin – Without Throwing A Javelin
To improve in javelin, kids don’t always have to be throwing javelins. There are a couple of other implements that I highly recommend as alternatives.
1. American (Gridiron) Football
A small-sized American football is arguably the best alternative javelin teaching tool. Challenging a young athlete to throw and “spiral” the ball is a wonderful activity to add to your javelin teaching toolkit.
To achieve a stable and accurate flight:
- The point of the ball must be directed towards its target.
- The ball’s tail must follow the tip.
- The ball must rotate around its axis longitudinal axis.
- The throwing action needs to be an over-the-shoulder.
These are all requirements of effective javelin throwing.
In fact, the ability to confidently throw and spiral an American football may be one of the best available indications of javelin potential.
The flight and path of the ball provides clear feedback about the effectiveness of a young athlete’s throwing action. A ball tumbling end-over-end or rotating helicopter-like reveals the lack of ability to align the tip and tail with the direction of the throw and to generate the stabilising rotation around its longitudinal axis.
Throwing a small American football back and forth with a partner is one of the my favourite javelin warm up activities for young athletes.
If you haven’t got an American football, a similar shaped ball, such as a small Australian Rules football can also fill the role.
2. Cricket Ball
The cricket ball’s advantage for use as an effective javelin teaching tool is the seam around its circumference. Some modified practice cricket balls are even made up of different coloured halves, which is useful for javelin practice.
Challenging a child to throw the ball so that rotates backwards with its seam upright encourages an over-the-shoulder action. It also provides wonderful feedback to the athlete and coach.
Any hint of a round-arm or side-arm action will be revealed by the tipping over of the seam.
Throw cricket balls at targets and over various distances, always monitoring the position of the seam.
No access to a cricket ball? Modify any other small ball (e.g. A softball, baseball, tennis ball, etc) by drawing or taping a seam around its circumference. You could even differently colour each side of the ball.
Get hold of a small American football. Add a cricket ball to your collection. Develop challenges, games and fun activities using these two implements. I would love to hear how it goes. Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the contact details below.
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.