UPPER BODY MOVEMENTS IN ELITE JAVELIN THROWS

  • Calvin J. Morriss
  • Roger M. Bartlett

Abstract

INTRODUCTION - For an athlete to compete at an international level he will not only need the raw materials necessary for the event, but an effective training programme. That will enable him to utilise these resources to the full. It is well accepted that exercise prescription must match the mode of training to the desired effect. This is embodied in the specificity principle which states that training adaptations are specific to the cells and their structural and functional elements that are overloaded (McCafferty & Horvath, 1977).Hence, to provide training advice to the elite javelin thrower exact details of the thrower's movements during the event must be known. Otherwise, developing a training programme to fit the thrower's requirements will be impossible. It was the aim of this study to quantify the upper body movements of a group of elite javelin throwers when performing at the highest level of competition. Every throw of12 athletes competing in the men's javelin final of the 1995 World Championships were filmed and, subsequently analysed. Filming was conducted using 2 phase-locked High speed Photosonics 1PL cine cameras which were zoomed on the javelin runway such that all of the thrower's movements incorporating the last few cross-over strides, the delivery and the first few meters of the javelin6gM after release, were in full view. Calibration of this area was achieved by mounting Rflective spherical markers on a system of vertical poles that were arranged to surround a 7 m x 4 m x 3.2 m volume. Three dimensional coordinates of the markers were generated using an Elta Ill tachymeter. The films developed and the best performances of the competitors were digitised using a sys-tem developed by Bartlett (1 990) compatible with Acorn Archimedes computers. RESULTS -Analysis of the best throws by the three medallists (all over 86 m) showed that all three athletes achieved release speeds in excess of 30 m.s-I. However, the way in which each athlete achieved such a high speed was very different indeed. For example, the gold and silver medallists were found to laterally align the trunk during the delivery in a similar manner. Nevertheless, the path of the javelin grip in a lateral direction differed by 54 cm between the two athletes. Furthermore, angular velocities of the elbow joints in extension were found to range between 45.0 rad.s-I and 26.5 rad.s! Similarly the movement of the upper arm during the delivery was a combination of extension, horizontal flexion and abduction, the angular velocities of which ranged from 21.8rad.s-I to 15.6 rad.s-I. Medial rotation angular velocities were as high as 45.0 rad.s-I indicating that this also is a important contributor to the release speed of the javelin. CONCLUSIONS - These results suggest that the patterns of muscular activation or the muscles used to accelerate the javelin were very different for the three medal lists. It would therefore seem appropriate that the training programmes of each athlete should be different and designed very specifically to meet their unique movement pattern. Examining the contribution of the upper body musculature to the release speed of the javelin is an aim of future research. REFERENCES Bartlett, R.M. (1 990). A biomechanical analysisprogramme package. Unpub. Mas. Thes.McCafferty, W.B. & Horvath, S.M. (1977).Research Quarterly, 48, 358-37 1.