Some time ago I asked you on my Instagram channel about your interest in technical insights, the feedback was gigantic and I decided to give you more insight into the technique of javelin throwing on my blog.
According to your news, many talented javelin throwers have problems using the stem correctly and efficiently, so in this article we will only deal with blocking or lifting in the javelin.
Why the block is so important?
If we look at how the spear stretches out, it quickly becomes clear that the take-off speed and take-off angle are very important parameters. This is explained in detail in the article on the biomechanics of javelin throwing. But what does the block do? A taut, efficient block from an optimally fast start-up gives the optimal impulse for an athlete, which directs the ground reaction forces along the muscle loop over the hip area to the limb. If the stem does not work efficiently, this crucial mechanism does not work.
The phase from putting on the pressure leg to putting on the foot is often described as a block phase. I am more of a friend of the description of the caulking that started a little later in the movement picture, because the correct blocking only starts after the pedestal is put on. The much-described setting time between the presser foot and the presser foot is definitely extremely important, but is not considered in this blog entry.
A good and efficient block is dynamic, powerful, correctly timed and oriented towards the upper body. The pedestal points in the direction of the throw or even slightly outwards (see Thorkildsen). The approach of the inward turned foot, often taught in ball throwing, is injury-intensive and does not meet the demands of dynamics in the performance area. The knee should remain stretched throughout the block phase to protect joints and ensure optimal power transmission.
A prerequisite for a clean block is always a solid surface and footwear that is adapted to the target speed. The javelin throw Spike also plays an important role in order to optimally transmit the forces.
Aktive or passive
Personally, I see whether lifting is actively controlled or used passively as a question of philosophy and style. What counts is the stretched and powerful end result. Some athletes want to put the block actively on the ground, which definitely makes sense, others understand the stem movement as a “run into the block”. Both approaches are worth trying out in order to find the best individual approach.
Does that work with a bent knee?
Some will be surprised how top athletes like Breaux Greer, Julian Weber or Vitezlav Vesely were able to achieve enormous distances despite a bent stem. The trick here is definitely a long-tried and tested timing. As soon as the knee bent from the stem remains stiff at exactly the right moment, the power transmission is just as good as with the extended stem. Only the time window for the timing is much narrower.
The correct rhythm
When athletes contact me on social media and send out a cry for help, I often have to remind them of a solid start-up rhythm. Without an adequate knee lift at a controlled speed, a decent leg can hardly be achieved. The caulking is already prepared with the upper body position and the frequency in the cross steps. There is no general recipe for success or a formula of stride length and frequency, everyone has to determine the individual optimum at this point and adjust it again and again in the training process.
- No or little stretched knee
- Too late stretching of the stem in the throwing motion
- Lack of preparation of the block in the competition movement / start-up
- Lack of mobility
- Startup too fast / uncontrolled
- Pedicle of the stem on the forefoot or ball of the foot
Exercises for a better block
Physical skills in javelin throwing must always be adapted to the target speed and the expected forces. You always have to be aware that impulses and ground reaction forces put significantly higher loads on the body than the athlete is actually able to move or perform. That means you have to be prepared for high external forces to prevent injuries and convert the forces within range.
As many know, I am not a fan of very specific exercises that only address a few parts of the body, but a few classics are mentioned below:
- Variations in the squat with the free barbell
- Eccentric hamstring workout
- Boxing jumps
- Jumps in general
In addition to the physical prerequisites, lifting requires a high level of coordination in fast movement tasks, so the following practice approaches are also recommended:
- Sports games like badminton or volleyball
- Coordination drills
- Reaction sprints
- Rhythm school with spear
Development of movement anticipation
Many young athletes have a fairly instinctive idea of throwing, which does not always correspond to the required or desired technical picture. Here I definitely recommend video motor training to better express the movement idea. With YouTube and Instagram, every athlete has a huge resource of excellent video material.
The block is only part of the enormously complex movement of the javelin throw and is an elementary component of a construct of movement sequences and timing. It is usually easy to identify fault patterns of lifting, which becomes clear when you look at the enormous feedback on “lifting problems” on the social media channels. It is really important to develop the understanding that the preparation of the bracing happens in rhythm and that many problems are more in the physical and mental preparation. A portion of courage is definitely required for the right lifting from the competition. Developing this takes and requires many patient training sessions with throws in low and slowly increasing intensity. Some athletes look like a natural talent for levering, which I like to count myself to, because luckily I have never had to think much about the levering movement myself. For some natural good stemmer, the devil is much more in the details of the right timing.