Javelin Competition Prep: 2023 Edition
BY BEKAH WALTON
WHAT CAN YOU CONTROL IN A COMPETITION SCENARIO?
The change of the clocks has always been an indicator of the upcoming season for me. With the days getting longer, the evenings lighter, and the weather warmer (eventually), my excitement for the upcoming season is only getting bigger. With no indoor season for me, I have spent the last seven months hibernating for these five months of the year. And with the change of seasons comes the transition of training.
TRAINING FOR JAVELIN COMPETITIONS
The training programmes should now see a transition from strength blocks to competition preparation. Heavy lifting and conditioning sessions will likely be replaced by faster, event-specific movements, with more recovery time to improve the sessions' quality. Throwing should now be the number one priority in training if it isn't already. For example, cleans may leave the programme in favour of trap bar jumps. Medicine balls may get lighter, and the exercises may mirror a javelin throw. And whilst training is still essential, competing now shifts to being the priority.
It is very easy to overtrain in the competition season. After months of winter training, it becomes the norm that more arduous training equals better results. However, this is not actually the case. Competitions are fatiguing, and the athlete must be fully recovered to give it their all on the day. If allowances aren't made for rest, and the competitions aren't considered in the programme, it unwrites all the hard work done since September, which leads me to my main point.
Take the time to sit and plan which competitions you would like to attend this year. This is super important for all athletes, from novices to professionals. It prevents overtraining, keeps the athlete and the coach on the same page, and gives the athlete clear stepping stones for the season.
HOW I PREPARE FOR JAVELIN COMPETITIONS
The new season can be daunting for some, but I see it as an exciting prospect. After busting a gut in training every day, enduring long strength blocks and working hard to transition it all to power, I have the opportunity to showcase my work. Competing is the easy part. This isn't a mindset that I have been blessed with naturally. I am a chronic overthinker and used to dwell on my performances to the point that it took out all the fun of competing. Fortunately, I have experience on my side and learned my own competition mentality and how I like to approach competing. It's come with hard work and getting deep down into learning about how I work as an individual, which is sometimes very difficult to take ownership of.
A changing point for me came in the 2021 season. Although not something I spoke publicly about then, I struggled to emulate my breakthrough performances in 2019 following some personal struggles. With the season ruined by Covid in 2020, I could not find form in 2021. I decided to take ownership of every performance and enjoy every competition, regardless of whether I was happy with the performance.
This change of mindset came with a change in distance, and soon after, I threw a personal best to win the British Championships. I went on to come 5th at the European U23 Championships that year. On reflection, this work on my mental skills gave me a competitive edge that year and was just as important as my physical work over the winter. As such, the challenge doesn't always present itself physically. Take the time to reflect on who you are as an athlete, but more importantly, a person, and let this be the way to dictate your competition mindset. I challenge you to work on your mental skills and see how it influences your performance.
THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL JAVELIN THROWING
WHY PREPARATION IS KEY
As mentioned earlier, I am a chronic overthinker, which previously hindered my performance. But, this had a silver lining and gifted me with preparatory skills for competition. Steve Backley used to list all the possible scenarios that he felt could impair his performance, such as his laces breaking. Consequently, he always kept a spare pair in his competition bag. By planning for this scenario, it removed any stresses that could distract him on the day.
I also follow a similar approach and have a list saved to my phone of all the necessary kit I need on the day. My non-negotiables on the day of the competition include...
- Competition clothing
- Javelin boots
- Spare spikes and spare key
- A towel to stretch
- A towel to clean javelins
- An umbrella (if necessary)
- Throwing balls (I prefer only to take the 600g, the weight I compete with)
- Venice turpentine
- Caffeine source
I will complete this the night before I compete to avoid any last-minute stress, including checking my spikes and cleaning my javelins. As I use tacky (venice turps) to improve my grip, I like to remove any leftover residue using an acetone-free nail polish remover (it MUST be acetone free; otherwise, the paint will lift with it!). As I work on my mentality, I still use these planning skills but challenge myself to be more flexible to change, a common occurrence in international travel and competition. As long as my essentials are packed, I can compete at my best level.
MAKE A PLAN
Planning is not limited to lists. Another great way to plan is to develop a competition strategy. This can include the length of your warmup and what you would like to have in it so you know when to start relative to the time of the competition. Practising your run up and learning its length is so important for consistency – even better if you can throw off it in training. You can also rehearse different cues and technical points in training that you like and know will help you on the big day. Rehearsing a competition in training – from preparing your kit bag to throwing at full intent, will expose the athlete to the experience and helps them to feel more confident.
So, with the 2023 season just about to begin, I wish you all the best of luck in your upcoming seasons. Throw far!
ABOUT BEKAH WALTON
Originally a netballer, Bekah quickly discovered a talent for javelin throwing, and hasn't looked back since.
Bekah is a British Champion and now has her eyes set on Commonwealth and Olympic glory!