Successful Throws Squad Launch

The first of the 2018-19 Athletics NI Event Group Throws Squads took place on Sunday 19th November at Ulster University’s Jordanstown Campus.  The day was attended by twenty-four athletes and many of their coaches.  Coaches participated in a lunchtime discussion group exploring performance models, inclusion of year round technical work and long term approaches to strength training for throwers. Sessions were delivered by Paul Kirkpatrick (Discus) and Laura Kerr (Javelin.)

Laura Kerr, Coach Development Lead and javelin coach to Youth Academy athletes Jack Magee (62.08m) and Kate O’Connor (49.26m) welcomed the attendees and explained the aims and purpose of the squads – for a select group of promising throwers (and their coaches) to train together and learn key skills that will accelerate their development, expand their network and aid them in achieving senior success.

Before beginning the practical Laura explained the need for young throwers to become as athletic as possible with a specific requirement for end range strength, body awareness and coordination, stiffness and bracing ability as well as mobile and healthy hips and shoulders. This led into the warm up with 4 key components followed by a demonstration of basic gymnastic progression for throwers….

  1. Skip series (with a focus on posture & coordination)
  2. Fundamental Movement series (including squat, lunge, hinge brace, rotation)
  3. Hurdle Hip mobility series
  4. Ground based primal movement (focused on body awareness, and shoulder stability)
  5. Gymnastics rolling series
Skip Series over 20m Easy Skip Forward

Easy Skip Backward

Easy skip with arm circles forward

Skip with arm circles back

Lateral skip

Skipping with arms across

Focus on tall upright torso

Heel toe roll in forward skips-toe heel roll in backward skips

Rhythm & coordination

Fundamental Movement Series x 10 reps each Hands ahead squat

Prisoner Squat

Prisoner lunge return

Hip hinge

Brace x 1min

Lunge and rotate

Hurdle Hip Mobility Series (8 hurdles) Over unders x3 L&R

Hurdle Rotations x3 L&R

Ground Based Primal Movement x10m


Low Bear Crawl

High Bear Crawl

Squat to Inchworm



The video link provides demonstrations of each of these movements. Number of repetitions is based on quality of execution and perceived difficulty.
Gymnastics Demo

(on 15m mat)


Forward Roll to stand

Continuous forward roll

Diving Forward roll

Forward roll to single leg stands

Backward roll spring

Wall handstand

Handstand push up

The exercises in the video are provided as a demonstration only and coaches should ensure they understand how to instruct these movements safely.

Throws Practical

Before beginning the discus and javelin throwing sessions coaches discussed the differences between a ‘technical model’ and ‘performance model’ and the need for coaches of young throwers to focus on 2 or 3 factors which are critical to the outcome. Laura explained:

“Even at the highest level of competition throwers will often display differences in their performance model.  This can be due to differences in body morphology, length of limbs, range of movement at joints, stylistic factors and cultural influences on their event.  Rather than focusing on the technical model demonstrated by a single high performer, coaches should look for commonalities across high performing throwers as they aspire toward a performance model that suits their athletes own physical characteristics and technical understanding.”


The following critical elements (1-3) were determined as the focus areas for the first javelin squad as the majority of throwers attending had previously competed in the event but had limited training experience.

Czech Republic’s Barbora Spotakova takes a throw in the women’s javelin final to win gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London.

Separation of hip and shoulder (1) allowing for a long pull (2).  

This can be achieved by driving the right, ankle, knee and hip forward whilst keeping the shoulders side on with the chest behind the left leg (block.)





High Release (3)

Accelerating onto the block leg and rotating the hip, chest and shoulder first prior to striking with the elbow then hand will allow for a high overhead release.

Athletes performed 3 step ball throws and 3 step javelin throws  focusing on pull length and release height, before moving to the track to discuss implement and hip alignment during cross overs.




Crossovers: Laura explained that discipline and a relaxed throwing arm would be required to carry the javelin correctly with the throwing hand behind the head whilst accelerating during cross overs.  The requirement to off set the right and left foot during crossovers was also demonstrated so that throwers could avoid blocking themselves during crossovers and align their hips in the final rear leg plant and front leg block (as shown below.)

Athletes practiced crossovers by performing 6x30m of crossovers carrying the javelin but not releasing.




North Down AC Coach Paul Kirkpatrick was the discus lead for the day. Paul has previously coached Youth Academy athletes and guided North Down AC athlete Jeremy Harper to multiple national titles and a 50m+ throw as an U23.With many multi event athletes attending for their first introduction to discus Paul’s focus for the day was introducing the grip, preliminary swing, entry and power position.


In this aerial photograph two time Olympic Champion Virgilijus Alekna demonstrates a palm down grip with fingers and thumb spread.The discus is released off the index finger with the implement spinning clockwise for a right-handed thrower and counterclockwise for a left-handed thrower.




Power Position

Paul highlighted the critical factors for performance in the event including “achieving the power position and transferring weight from right to left leg whilst having a separation of the upper and lower body.”

British thrower Lawrence Okoye demonstrates an active right leg in the power position with a long and delayed right arm.

This concluded our first Event Group Throws Squad for 2018-19 and details will be released soon for further squads in January were Olympian Goldie Sayers and International Athlete and Coach Zane Duquemin will share their experience and expertise.  Athletics NI would like to thank coaches on the day Paul Kirkpatrick/ Laura Kerr and ‘Cafe Cuisine’ for fuelling our athletes with healthy lunches.


Athletics NI recommend that coaches seeking to enhance their knowledge and develop event group throws athletes should progress from their British Athletics Coach Qualification (designed for working with Foundation Stage athletes) to the online Event Group Throws Qualification and integration day. Find out more and enroll here: