Javelin Throwing For Beginners

Javelin throwing is an unbelievably technical event. Unlike our hammer, discus and shot putting counterparts, we do not rely so much on strength and muscle as excellent coordination and rhythm! It is the combination of many many little things that makes the Javelin go further! Despite that ANYBODY can throw the javelin if they have the right information.

The purpose of Throwing Javelin:

The whole point of throwing Javelin is to see who can throw it the farthest from the throw line, without crossing the throw line and ensuring the point lands before the tail. The point does not have to stick into the ground – the front end simply needs to hit the ground before the back end.

Javelin Equipment:

Clearly to be a javelin thrower you need a javelin. You also need to look into getting yourself a pair of heel spikes.

JAVELIN: If you are only starting out, you should check with your local athletics teams. Being able to use a club’s Javelin not only saves you forking out for your own but will also enable you to get started quicker and get a feel for the event.

When choosing a Javelin to use there are two major considerations:

1. The correct weight for your age group/gender. The standard weight for women is 600grammes and for Men is 800grammes. Javelins are also generally available in 400, 500 and 700gram weights also. Some stockists also have special children’s sizes and foam training aids which (look a bit like 3 foot rockets but) can be used INDOORS!

2. International standards. The main concern here is centre of gravity. Some older models of Javelin are not approved for competition. Always check the competition rules.

Javelin SPIKES: These are vital in order to avoid slipping and to generate the thrust you need when planting your foot. Without spikes in the heel you risk slipping which can be very dangerous with enough momentum behind you and particularly if there has been any rain. Some equipment stockists sell a heel clip like below, which you can attach to normal running spikes. This is a very economical solution if you already have a pair of spikes.

How to Hold the Javelin:

There are three commonly used grips for throwing the javelin.

1. Hold the Javelin in the palm of your hand between your index and middle finger. Your finger tips of these two fingers should be against the top of the cord grip.

2. Hold the Javelin in the palm of you hand with you index finger against the top of the cord grip.

3. Hold the Javelin in the palm of your hand with your middle finger against the top of the cord grip and your index finger straight along the Javelin itself.

See which one feels most comfortable to you!

For CHILDREN I would advise the first one as it provides more stability for holding the javelin and also helps keep the throw straight on release.

For ADULTS, however, I would advise the remaining two. When you release a javelin during a throw, there is a spinning motion which helps propel the javelin through the air. This is best achieved with less obstruction from the fingers.

The Javelin Throw:

The whole point is that it is a javelin throw, not a bowl, not a toss, not a heave. A throw!

As such your momentum comes not from your arm or your hand but from your TOES! That’s right from your toes through your foot, your ankle, your knee, your HIP, your torso, your shoulder and then your arm, hand and finally your fingers!

It’s a whole body workout!

The best way to understand the throw positioning is to start from the bottom up:

FEET: Stand sideways to the throw line with your left foot nearest the line (for right-hand throwers, left-hand throwers do opposite) and feet shoulder width apart. Face your BODY to the side while your HEAD is turned to face the throwing direction.

ARMS: Place your left arm out to your side at shoulder level almost pointing in the direction of the throw. Hold the javelin in your right hand and raise your hand out to your side until it is just above head height. The point of the javelin should be at your eye level. Your whole body is in a straight line!


From this starting position, lean back on your right foot and take a step forward with your left foot turning it so that your toes are facing the throw direction. Keep your weight on your right foot. Then lift your right heel and begin to turn on your right toes – your ankle will turn then your knee will follow, then through your hip. You will get to a point where your hips are both facing the throw direction but all the while you have to try to maintain your upper body position, i.e. your right arm is still straight out behind you and chest facing sideways.

Now you can let your right arm come through. Firstly, you allow your shoulder to come forward and then your elbow will come through. Inevitably it will bend but try to minimise this by allowing it to come through around head height and ensure that it faces forward.

Finally your hand comes into play and at release allow the javelin to rotate out of your hand. What I mean is that as you throw your hand uncurls and the last part of your body to touch the javelin is the top of your index finger!

During this movement, your left arm remains out in front. Its purpose is to act like a block. Remember you need to stop before the throw line and your left side remains firm to prevent you falling forward excessively.