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How to throw a javelin

Javelin throw
A: Grip the cord between the thumb and index finger B: Grip the cord between the thumb and middle finger C: Hold the cord between the index and middle finger in a v-grip.
File photo credit: wikimedia

MASTER YOUR ATHLETICS TECHNIQUE (3): JAVELIN

By Benedict Yeo

The javelin originated in ancient times as a throwing weapon, designed to sail through the air to impale unfortunate enemies. While technology is often employed to enhance an athlete’s equipment, the javelin was actually redesigned in 1986 to weaken its flight potential as record throws for the javelin crept dangerously over 100 metres. Today’s sports javelin is now more likely to jab and stick in the field than approach the spectators at the far end like a flying needle of death.

Nonetheless, the javelin throw remains a spectacle. Unlike other throwing events, athletes do not throw from within a circle, but are permitted to set up the throw with a run-up of up to 4m. When well done, the athlete is the very visage of a warring Greek god. Here’s a basic guide to throwing the javelin.

Step 1: Grip
There are three ways to grip a javelin. If you are new to the sport, try all three grips to find what suits you best. Your palm should face upwards with the javelin resting in your palm.

Step 2: Prepare for run-up

Hold the javelin above your shoulders. Aim it in the direction of the throw with the tip pointing slightly downward. Your right elbow (assuming you are right-handed) should point forward. 

Step 3: Run-up

Experienced throwers commonly take 13 to 17 steps. Novices should try shorter run-ups. When running, maintain the position of the javelin.  

Step 4: Crossover

As you put forth your right foot, your body should tilt back at about 115 degrees. Take two strides, then turn your body so the left hip points toward the target area. Your left leg should cross over your right as you pull the javelin back. Your throwing hand should be horizontal with your shoulders and your arm should be extended and straight. 

Javelin thrower
File photo credit: Wikimedia

Step 5: Throw

Keeping your sight on the target area, ground your left leg and push off with your other leg. Transfer your weight forward and thrust your throwing arm up and forward. Let loose the javelin when your hand is ahead of the front foot and at its apex. Follow through completely.

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