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Shelley Holroyd

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Drills, Myths & Faith
By Shelley Holroyd (Article for a T & F Magazine)

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.


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. 


Athletics: Shelley's not given up on days of glory  (Manchester Evening News July 2003)

Shelley Holroyd, once tipped to follow in the flight of Tessa Sanderson and Fatima Whitbread, is determined to have a final fling for glory.

The Sale Harriers Manchester javelin thrower competed in her first club competition of the year last weekend - the UK Women's League - and celebrated with a convincing victory.

But the Salfordian is looking to broader horizons in the next 12 months.

At 30, Shelley can hardly be classed as a youngster. But they don't come much more local than the Manchester-based recruitment officer, albeit being born `next door' in Little Hulton.

A brief sojourn with Essex Ladies apart, Shelley has spent half a lifetime with Sale. And just when it seemed her javelin throwing days were over, she is now determined to have a swansong.

Shelley was devastated to miss out on last summer's Commonwealth Games, and has been seeking solace playing football for the Greater Manchester Police team.


But the no no-nonsense midfielder's real goal is Athens 2004 after competing in the Atlanta Olympics of 1996 and the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia two years later.

"I've been to all the major championships and not got a medal," she said. "It has always been my goal to come back with one, so that's my target.

"This season is all about building up my strength work," added Shelley, whose career has been blighted by knee, neck and elbow problems

"I don't feel 30, though when I see these young girls competing that's when it hits me. But, with the exception of Kelly Morgan, no-one is throwing any great distances."

At her best, Holroyd threw 60.12m with a pre-1999 javelin to take second place at the 1996 Olympic Trials. Twelve months ago she reached 54.18m at the Commonwealth Trials and had to settle for fourth place.

She added: "I'm getting my confidence back and, once I get my strength up, I can't see why I can't get back to my best."

Things not related to Athletics




Wizard of Oz, Breakfast at Tiffanys, Breakfast Club, Bend it Like Beckham, Shrek 1 & 2 and any films with Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom in.




Depech Mode, House music, Ministry of Sound, Prodigy, classical, opera.




Photography, Reading (Patricia Cornwell, Dan Brown), Skiing, Walking.

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