Rules and Regulations for the Javelin Throw

Male athlete holding javelin

The javelin throw is the field event where an athlete runs down a narrow runway then tosses a long, spear-like object as far as he can into a marked field area. The layout of the runway, the specs for the javelin and how it's thrown are all governed by the rules and regulations of the sport.

Runway Specs

The runway must be at least 33 yards and as much as 37 yards long. Two white parallel lines, slightly wider than 4 feet apart, mark the runway. At the end of the runway is an arch-shaped foul line with a radius of about 9 feet. The arc, which is made of wood or some other type of durable material, must be flush with the ground and painted white. The thrower can't touch any of these lines, leave the runway, or the area outside of these lines, before the javelin lands.

Equipment Specs

The javelin head is made of metal, tapers to a point and is attached to either a hollow or solid shaft. The shaft must have a uniform, smooth surface with no ridges or grooves. The javelin can't have any attachments that can change its center of gravity or throwing characteristics. The cord grip must have a constant thickness and can't be more than .31 inches larger than the diameter of the shaft. The javelin used by men must be between 102 and 106 inches long with a minimum weight of 28 ounces. For women, the length is about 87 to 91 inches with a minimum weight of 21 ounces.

Throwing Technique

Proper technique requires the athlete to hold the javelin with only one hand on the cord grip. Gloves aren't allowed, and tape on the fingers is permitted only if its to cover an open wound. The rules do, however, allow athletes to chalk their hands. The javelin must be thrown with an over-the-shoulder motion. The competitor can't turn his back to the throwing area until the javelin is airborne.

The javelin must land within the "sector" to register a score. This fan-shaped area extends out from the ends of the arch-shaped foul line. The javelin can't land on the lines marking the sides of the sector. The metal head of the javelin has to hit the ground first or the throw is a foul.