It is no surprise that the competitive level of javelin throwing in the US is sub par to our European competitors. Many opinions surface both at home and overseas about these reasons. The bottom line is that American coaches and athletes must take accountability for our performances and stop rewarding average results. The elite javelin throwers who surface in our country are usually isolated to a handful of very talented athletes with the inner drive to succeed. These athletes have either stumbled into a good situation or sought out guidance from piers who are willing to help. Athletes must take the initiative to find a coach who understands the biomechanical, physiological, and mental components of an elite javelin thrower. In all honesty this is very hard to do in the United States. The purpose of this paper is to only scratch the surface of this problem and lend some suggestions, which mirror the Finnish Model.
The first obstacle to conquer is the development of a plan to get an athlete to a level of performance, which is considered World Class. In this day and age 83.50 is the A standard for men at the World Championships and Olympic Games. This should be considered the minimal performance. Great physical qualities must be present to reach this performance. Foreign athletes are usually physically superior to American throwers. In the United States 70m is regarded by most as a good result. This stems from the qualification standard set by the NCAA. When the athlete is mentally focused on such a low mark, it inhibits the ability to strive for a higher performance. The Finnish thinking on distance according to National Coach Kari Ihalainen is “70m is a below average throw, usually even for a junior athlete, 80m is a good throw, but to be great 90m is the distance to aim for. This is what all Finnish throwers are striving to reach.” Once the goal is determined it is now time to plan. The Master plan as it is referred to is not just sets and reps, but is the roadmap to that 90m throw. Certain steps both physically and technically must be taken to reach each level of performance. This plan must be devised over years to ensure the proper development of the athlete. Devising a workout one month at a time is not efficient in developing an athlete hoping to win an Olympic Medal. Planning and record keeping is the backbone of the Finnish Model. There is no guessing, it is scientifically planned to insure that athletes are performing the correct exercises that will enable them to reach the next plateau. Most athletes and U.S. coaches lack the skills required to develop good training plans specific for elite javelin throwers. Coaches could benefit from educational outlets that provide proper training methodology. Many publications and such as Tudor Bumpas Theory of Periodization and Periodization of Strength would be a good start. Sound training when combined with proper mechanics leads to good results.
There are many biomechanical parameters that can be measured by analysis. Somehow Americans often suffer from paralysis by analysis. However, the Finns have identified basic parameters that will apply to all throwers. These are the specific data they look for.
1) Angle Of Attack (0 to –2 is the desirable angle to limit drag on the spear)
2) Speed of Release (27.2 m/s is what is minimal speed for 80m throw in optimal conditions, 28+ m/s should be the gold standard)
3) R to L touchdown in throwing stride (This starts when right foot in throwing stride touches down and ends when left heel makes contact. .16-.18 is a good result)