Javelin drills are somewhat of a mystery when
it comes to performing them. Many people I have encountered in the past have their own view and perception of how drills should
be executed. I’ve even seen drills that are of no benefit whatsoever but the athlete and coach seem to think that they
are. Maybe that’s the secret, hope and faith.
In the 22 years that I have been throwing I have
partaken in drills that left me somewhat bemused. If I was to ask a Javelin thrower to use High Jump standards as part of
a Javelin drill I’m sure they would look at me as if I was crazy! Probably the same look I gave my coach at the time.
But in all honesty the drill worked and it taught me the basic concept of the angle of release. My coach at the time was Fatima
Whitbread, Olympic Silver medalist 1988.
Although my continued time as an athlete has given
me the opportunity to work with athletes and coaches who have a vast amount of knowledge I am still learning. On doing this
it has given me the edge on learning and developing my own technique and ability to throw. Absorbing information is vital
to an athlete, as their coach is not always going to be there. Whether athletes like it or not, we tend to rely on our coaches
to give us the extra special boost that we get from their presence. We all have
something to prove, but more often than not it is never to ourselves.
On the topic of learning and developing it is
a common misconception that throwing a Javelin, which is heavier than the required weight, is beneficial. Unfortunately, some
coaches are still using this technique and in my experience it should not be used. For example, female athletes throw 600g
Javelins throughout their career, why would throwing a 700g/800g Javelin be of any use to them? Many coaches believe that
training them to throw the heavier implement will make the 600g Javelin feel light and therefore make them throw the 600g
further; this is not true. Take into account the weight, thickness and grip. Heavier implements will not only slow the arm
down but will also put too much pressure on the elbow and shoulder. The thickness of the javelin increases the thickness of
the grip. From experience I have found that female athletes found it difficult in holding the 700/800g Javelin therefore,
making the whole exercise a waste of time. This topic also relates to the use of Javelin balls. A 400g, 500g and 600g ball
is all you need as a female thrower. Personally, I don’t like to use them as it teaches you to throw with a grip that
you do not use when actually throwing a Javelin (Unless you throw with the infamous claw grip). Also, your body is aware that you are holding a ball; therefore it wants to throw the ball it’s holding.
It is a psychological detriment that we all have and struggle to overcome. This is not the only reason I do not like using
throwing balls. They cause problems that sometimes you are not aware of. For instance, with the weight being centralized it
can cause your arm to lower. Therefore, it will train your arm to throw in this way when holding the Javelin.
Not everyone will agree with my theory, but if
you look outside the box and look at it from a different angle you will see what I see. This takes me on to the subject of
Static drills and static throwing have been used
for many years now and it is a fast fading training technique. Javelin is not an event that requires the body to be still.
Many coaches I have seen state that the last three strides are vital in executing the throw, as it is the crucial stage. This
is true. The final stage is where everything comes together, where you ‘vault’ over the throw and follow through.
So, my question is, why would you want to partake in a drill that stops this? Surely being in a static position, supposedly
mimicking the last stride, would reduce the velocity, decreasing your chance of getting out of the throw and increasing the
risk of injury to the shoulder and back as that is where all of the strain will be applied. To train your body in this way
defeats the whole concept of throwing the Javelin. You have to be strong in every aspect as you put your body through an amazing
amount of force and strain. There are other drills available to assist your strength, conditioning and throwing.
The myth of the old training techniques will haunt
throwers forever. What worked for one person might not work for the next person. Each athlete is different. Height, weight,
technique, personality, the list is endless. Many coaches tend to forget these aspects and think that if it worked for one
athlete it must work for all. Generic information taken from books can be associated to this ever-growing problem. The information
can be informative but needs to be assessed and used wisely. It must be deemed appropriate for each individual. Something
that many coaches do not implement.
Finally, in a world where we are constantly competing
against someone, whether you are an athlete or not, it always comes back to faith. Not in the religious state but faith in
your own mind. Whether you are religious or not, faith always comes to the forefront. We all need faith to enable us to compete,
to make ourselves push that little extra and have the will to succeed. Without faith there is no will.
So, as an athlete, my advice to you is to move
forward, never look back and always have faith in yourself because you will only cheat yourself if you don’t.