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How to Throw the Javelin

Although it considered a throwing event, the javelin differs in many ways from its peers. The implement is lighter, the competitor is not confined to a ring, and the build of the athlete is usually closer to that of a sprinter than a typical thrower’s physique.

Javelin Throwing Technique

The javelin throw is broken into four phases: the approach, the rhythm, the throw and the recover. The approach is a controlled, rhythmic sprint on the runway. They rhythm is the cross-over steps to a throw that is done as quickly and efficiently as possible to project the implement far into the field.

When throwing the javelin, there are three different grip styles available. They are:

  • American style: grip the cord between the thumb and the index finger
  • Finnish style: grip the cord between the thumb and middle finger
  • Fork style: grip the cord between the index and middle fingers

No matter which grip you choose, the javelin should always rest in your palm with the palm facing up and the hand in line with the direction of the throw. Carry the javelin above the shoulders or the head. Your shoulders, arm and wrist should feel relaxed, and you should be able to run easily with the javelin in the right position.

The technique breakdown is for a right handed thrower. Please do not start training for this event without the supervision of a coach.

The Approach and Run

The run is usually divided into two phases: the approach and the final phase known as the “rhythm of five.” Including the final five steps at the end of an approach, beginner throwers may use 9 to 14 steps and more advanced throwers may use 14 to 20 steps.

  • During the approach run, the javelin should be held high over your right shoulder at head height.
  • The javelin is parallel to the ground, facing forward with the tip slightly angled down.
  • The palm of your hand should face upwards.

The javelin is in this position throughout the main portion of the approach.

Hot Tip: Finding Rhythm

Instead of putting a mark on the javelin runway to tell you when to start the crossover, establish a rhythm in your head of the number of steps you are taking. Know how many steps you take.

Maintain control in the run and accelerate smoothly to the throwing line. Run on the balls of your feet with your hips high. Two strides before the crossover, begin to bring the javelin back. Keep your hips up high.

The Crossover

The crossover are the first steps in the ‘rhythm of five.’ It aids your body in providing the momentum you will need to launch the javelin.

  • The crossover begins when you land on your right foot, you will begin to turn your body so your left side is pointed towards the target.
  • Start moving your throwing arm back until it is fully outstretched. Don’t rush the withdrawl, and try to accelerate ahead of the javelin.
  • After the right foot has landed step two will be quickly planting your left leg in front of you. Your throwing arm should be extended and your throwing hand should be at about shoulder height with the palm up.

The last part of the crossover prepares you for the throw. Your right foot contacts the ground again and the left leg is forward in the air. The javelin should be close to your head with the point at the height of your eyebrows.

Throw and Release

The fourth step starts the drive phase of the crossover. This stride is longer than the first three and allows you to have that final pull of the throwing arm.

  • To initiate the drive, push off with your left leg and lean back.  Keep your right foot low as your right leg drives forward.
  • Turn your hips so they are perpendicular to the target area and transfer your weight forward. Keep your shoulders in the direction of the throw.
  • The right foot will touch the ground on its outside edge, heel first. As the right foot lands, lift your heal and rotate so you finish on the toe. This move will rotate your knee and hip forward.
  • As you rotate, bring your left leg forward. Your left foot will land flatfooted and pointing forward. Keep the left leg straight as the right leg rotates.

When you release the javelin, rotate your throwing hand right (inwards) until it is in a “thumb down” position. Follow through with your arm and body, but do not cross the throwing line.

Throw Well, Throw Far

Understanding how the different steps of the throw work, from the approach to the release, is the key to a good javelin throw. Practice each part individually, then put them together and let it fly!

The javelin throw belongs, with the hammer and shot put, in the unique non-running group of track and field events. This guide explains how to throw the javelin.
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