3 Top Tips For Young Athletes Who Throw Javelin
If I had to narrow it down to just three . . .
1. Get The Grip Right
Regardless of the grip being used, teach young athletes that the javelin should be held:
- At the back of the grip
- Along the palm
- With the fingers firmly around the implement
- With at least one finger behind the binding
I prefer teaching the grip that sees one finger and the thumb behind the binding.
Many young athletes grip the javelin incorrectly. Common grip errors seen in young athletes include:
Error 1: The javelin being held across the palm
Holding the javelin in a fist makes it difficult to align the implement in the direction of the throw.
Error 2: The javelin being held in the fingertips
This will make it very hard to control the implement.
Error 3: The javelin being held too far down the grip.
This may cause the fingers and thumb may slip on the grip during delivery. It will also be more difficult to impart a force on the javelin.
Hold the javelin firmly along the palm with at least one finger behind the binding.
2. Keep The Tip Close To Your Eye
To get the best result, the javelin tip should be aimed in the direction that the athlete wants the javelin to travel.
Tell young athletes to always keep the javelin pointed in the direction that they want the javelin to go or to “point the javelin at the target”.
A really good cue that can be used to describe the position and alignment of the arm, hand and javelin just prior to delivery is: “Elbow high, palm to the sky, keep the tip close to your eye”
Prior to the throw, many young athletes lose control of the point of the javelin, either lifting the tip too high or swinging it out to one side.
Error 1: The tip pointed too high
This can result in the javelin:
- Cartwheeling end-over-end as the result of the thrower trying to pull it back on course during delivery.
- Landing flat or tail-first (i.e. a foul throw)
- Taking too steep a flight path, causing it to nose-dive
“Elbow high, palm to the sky, keep the tip close to your eye”
Error 2: The tip pointed out to the side
A javelin pointed too far out to the right (for a right-handed thrower) can result in:
- A javelin flying out to the right.
- The javelin rotating anti-clockwise in flight (in a “helicopter” spin) as the result of the thrower trying to pull it back on course during delivery.
3. Pull Not Push
Kids need to be taught to “pull” not “push” a javelin.
From the extended position behind the shoulder, once the throwing arm action begins, there should be one long pull on the javelin in a continuous flowing movement.
One of the biggest limiting factors in novice javelin throwers is the inability of kids to throw fluently from a position in which the javelin starts extended behind their shoulder.
Many kids firstly shift their throwing hand up next to their shoulder and then “push” the javelin. The throw becomes a stop-start push. A double movement occurs during the throwing action. This may cause the javelin to float through the air without any rotation around its axis and then drop to the ground.
Use one long pull on the javelin.
- Hold the javelin firmly along the palm with at least one finger behind the binding.
- Elbow high, palm to the sky, keep the tip close to your eye.
- “Pull” don’t “push” a javelin.
Over To You!
The next time you get the chance to teach or coach javelin, try focusing on one of the three coaching points highlighted above. I would love to hear how it goes and what effect it has. 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, Anchor or via email.