Throwing events are part of the athletics (track and field) program. At the highest level the throwing events included are javelin, shot put, discus and hammer. In Masters Competitions, there is also an event called the heavy weight.
Shot put and hammer weights are 4kg and 7.26kg for women and men respectively. The shot circle diameter is 2.135m and the stop board is 1.21m x 11cm x 10cm.
Discus weights are 1kg and 2kg for women and men respectively. The discuss circle diameter is 2.5m. Javelin weights are 600g and 800g for women and men respectively. Runway length is 30m (at minimum).
The key events at the elite level are Olympics, Paralympics, Commonwealth Games, World Championships; IAAF Diamond League meets; the indoor circuit as well as World Junior Championship events.
Most international meets involve qualifying rounds where throwers must throw over a particular qualifying distance or finish in the top 12 to progress to the final. Finals then involve three throws with the top eight throwers progressing through to three more throws where the throwing orders changes. There is 5-10 mins between the first three throws with the top eight taking their second three throws. Each athlete usually has 90 seconds to complete their throw, from when their name or number is called.
Power is one of the most important characteristics of a thrower. Generating speed across the circle or down the runway and applying this to the implement is very important. Long levers are also useful for elevation and projection of the implement.
More recently there has been a move towards a leaner body mass rather than the traditional high body fat physique of the past. Stand out throwers since the early 1960s have had better power to weight ratios, despite still having large total body masses. Javelin throwers tend to be taller and leaner and can generate a large amount of speed in a short distance on the runway.
Generally, throwers train one – two times each day. (In shot, they sometimes throw heavier weight shot puts in the earlier part of training season than they do in competition).
In most cases, training will involve a gym session and either a track/fitness session or throw session in the off season with more focus on throws sessions and power sessions rather than fitness sessions during the competition season.
Technique or throwing sessions can consist of drills or competition simulation as well as technique correction.
During the off season the throwing action is often broken down to basics and rebuilt to the full action to improve technique. It is important as a thrower to have good speed to move your body mass to propel the object rather than just simply have a large absolute mass or size.
Consideration needs to be given to the type of training session, heavy or light, resting, flexibility and other types of cross -training. Individual nutritional goals should be purposeful, perionsalised and periodised to match the demands of the training and competition year.
Nutrition considerations include achieving adequate total intake to meet energy requirements which help to facilitate adequate recovery between sessions. As most of the training is power based, high carbohydrate intake is less of a priority compared to protein and nutrient intake, provided an individual’s daily energy demands are achieved to support great health as well as their usual daily and training requirements.
Protein requirements are moderate to high (1.5-2.2g/kg/day) as throwers do large amounts of resistance training in the gym as well as on the field, with some drills involving implements heavier than competition size. Adequate protein intake is required to meet protein losses due to protein resorption and to assist with hypertrophy.
Hydration status is particularly important especially during the warmer months. As throwing is a very technical event, athletes need to ensure they are euhydrated to maintain sharp concentration and focus and to minimise fatigue. Perception of effort can also be negatively influenced if an athlete is experiencing dehydration.
It’s also important to consider the weather that the athlete is training or competing in; including the duration out on the field, access to shade and or fluids/fuel, as well as ensuring the athlete is well practiced and prepared to cope in varying weather conditions (ie; hot and humid, cold and wet etc).
It’s important to ensure the athlete has a post training snack which should definitely contain some protein. This snack is best consumed as soon as practical/possible after the session. It is particularly important for throwing athletes to consider and plan snacks and recovery food especially when moving between training sessions, which are often only a short window of travel. This may require mini eskies, cooler bags and or insulated drink bottles – being organised and prepared ahead of time will enable the most from their training sessions.
Athletes with competing demands or busy lifestyles, who are fatigued or don’t feel like preparing a meal or snack will benefit from understanding how to prepare easy and nutritious alternatives to ensure effective recovery. Again, organisation is the key, along with a well – practiced nutrition and hydration plan that can be executed with ease across training and competition.
These are similar to training nutrition strategies; keeping in mind there is a taper period before big meets where individual requirements may not be as high.
Fuelling for the event is important, however historically, there has been a push for throwers to exceed their usual intakes (more food) in order to gain extra mass in the days before competition. This can make the thrower feel more uncomfortable around competition time, when they need to be sharpening up on their speed.
Hydration strategies are important during competition as the throwers can be out on the field for extended periods of time and this can often be in the heat of the day.
Athletes often need to report to marshalling 45mins to 1 hour before their event, which means having a fuelling and hydration plan ready to go, including packed beverages and a pre-competition snack for the call room. Organisation is as important on competition day as well as training, especially for nervous or anxious athletes.
If individuals feel extra mass is necessary to perform best in competition, it is in the athletes best performance interest, to seek advice from a sports dietitian and well in advance. A sports dietitian can work with the individual to optimise the nutritional quality of the diet as well as assist in increasing mass and power to weight ratio.
A sports dietitian can also advise on effective protocol and safe supplement use. Creatine can be useful for training phases, when resistance training demands are high. This is however only most useful when planned in conjunction with physical training as well as ticking all of the fundamental training nutrition boxes.
Multivitamins may be useful for travel and making up shortcomings in diets lacking variety, although improvements in diet via a food first approach would be preferable to satisfy requirements.
There is a tendency for high use of pre and post workout protein supplements in throwing athletes, but these are not necessarily the best option as these run the risk of a doping violation without the proper consideration into their necessity, safety and checking whether they are legal. Again, your Sports Dietitian can advise you on this.