Field Events/Javelin: Use Weighted Balls to Test Javelin Technique

Glenn McAtee, Contributor

There are two main factors that limit the athlete's ability to throw the javelin long distances. The most common limiting factor is technique: the athlete must improve his/her throwing motion to reach greater distances. Less commonly, the thrower lacks the physical capability to generate the power or speed to make the javelin go further.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to determine which challenge is facing your young thrower.

Weighted Ball Test
The test involves having your athlete throw a competition-weight javelin, then a ball of the same weight and comparing distances (Balls of various weights can be made by slicing open an old tennis ball, filling it with lead pellets, then weighing it on a post office or grocery scale to get precise weight. Don't forget to tape the ball shut before you throw!).

Evaluating the Results
Since the javelin is aerodynamic, it should go farther than a ball of the same weight, if the wind is fairly still and the thrower is using good technique. Therefore, the results of the test tell you how well your throwers are utilizing their power:

  • If they throw the javelin farther than the ball, strength is the main issue—work with the ball to develop more throwing-specific speed and strength.
  • If they throw the ball farther than the javelin, they should work on improving their technique and should therefore be spending more time throwing the spear.


Reference: At the time he wrote this article, Glenn McAtee is a graduate student at the University of Southern California where he was working on his Master of Arts in Teaching PE. He is a national level thrower (former Canadian national bronze medalist in the hammer) and is an experienced throws coach.

To download the pdf version of this
article, click here: Download Now

© 2013, Physical Education,

Bookmark and Share

Printer-Friendly Format