Sports Engineering

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 219–227 | Cite as

Augmented inertial measurements for analysis of javelin throwing mechanics

  • Olli SärkkäEmail author
  • Tuukka Nieminen
  • Saku Suuriniemi
  • Lauri Kettunen
Original Article


This paper examines the exploitation of inertial measurements to analyze javelin throwing mechanics. The main objective was to demonstrate that consumer-grade inertial navigation systems, augmented with some position and attitude data obtained from a video sequence, yield detailed information of the mechanics of javelin throwing. Especially, such a system makes it possible to analyze the momentary force and power exerted on the javelin during the acceleration phase. Although the presented system is a pilot, leaving space for further improvements, it already reveals the potential of inertial navigation systems to sports. In practise, an inertial measurement unit was embedded inside the tip of the javelin to determine the javelin’s momentary attitude, position, and velocity. Graphs on the speed and angular velocity about the longitudinal axis of the javelin during the whole performance are presented. The maximum estimated release speed and release angular speed were 28.02 m/s and 215.9 rad/s, respectively. The acceleration phase trajectory of the javelin and its deviation from a straight line path are demonstrated. Additionally, the momentary forces and powers are shown and the effect of aerodynamic forces on the projectile is specified. The magnitude of the maximum tangential forces and accelerating powers were 364 N and 9.76 kW. The duration and length of the acceleration phase trajectory varied between 223 and 231 ms, and 2.48 and 2.75 m. To estimate the accuracy of the inertial measurements, the acceleration phase results were compared to measurements made with high-speed cameras.


Time-parametrized trajectory Force Work Power Inertial navigation 



The authors thank the Research Institute for Olympic Sports, Riku Valleala, Simo Ihalainen, and Sami Kuitunen who shot and made the acceleration phase image sequence analysis, and Antti Nikkola who modelled the javelin with CAD system and calculated the principal moments of inertia of the javelin. There are no conflicts of interest to disclose. The Javelin bodies for this study were given by Nordic Sport, Sweden. Two elite javelin throwers volunteered to take part in this study. Both gave their written informed consent to participate in this study, and the experimental study protocol was approved by the chair of the Ethics Committee of Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland.


  1. 1.
    Analog Devices (2009) ADXL326 Datasheet. Accessed 22 December 2015
  2. 2.
    Analog Devices (2010) ADXL193 Datasheet. Accessed 22 December 2015
  3. 3.
    Analog Devices (2010–2012) ADXRS649 Datasheet. Accessed 22 December 2015
  4. 4.
    Bartlett RM, Best RJ (1988) The biomechanics of javelin throwing: a review. J Sports Sci 6:1–38. doi: 10.1080/02640418808729791 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Best RJ, Bartlett RM, Morriss CJ (1993) A three-dimensional analysis of javelin throwing technique. J Sports Sci 11:315–328. doi: 10.1080/02640419308730001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chatfield AB (1997) Fundamentals of high accuracy inertial navigation: introduction. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, RestonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Eldén L, Wittmeyer-Koch L, Nielsen HB (2004) Introduction to numerical computation—analysis and MATLAB® illustrations. Studentlitteratur, LundGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Farrell JA, Barth M (1999) The global positioning system and inertial navigation. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Griffiths IW (2006) Principles of biomechanics and motion analysis. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hansen PC (1998) Rank-deficient and discrete Ill-posed problems: numerical aspects of linear inversion. SIAM, PhiladelphiaCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hubbard M (1984) Optimal javelin trajectories. J Biomech 17:777–787. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(84)90108-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hubbard M, Alaways LW (1989) Rapid and accurate estimation of release conditions in the javelin throw. J Biomech 22:583–595. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(89)90010-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hubbard M, Rust HJ (1984) Simulation of javelin flight using experimental aerodynamic data. J Biomech 17:769–776. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(84)90107-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    IAAF (2014–2015) Competition Rules 2014–2015. Accessed 6 February 2015
  15. 15.
    Mansfield M, O’Sullivan C (2004) Understanding physics, 2nd edn. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Morriss C, Bartlett R (1996) Biomechanical factors critical for performance in the men’s javelin throw. Sports Med 21:438–446. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199621060-00005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Murakami M, Tanabe S, Ishikawa M, Isolehto J, Komi PV, Ito A (2006) Biomechanical analysis of the javelin at the 2005 IAAF World Championships in Athletics. New Stud Athl 21:67–80Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nieminen T (2013) A Non-recursive solution method for fixed-interval smoothing problems applied to short-term inertial navigation. Doctoral dissertation, Tampere University of Technology, pp 1–68Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nieminen T, Kangas J, Kettunen L (2011) Use of Tikhonov regularization to improve the accuracy of position estimates in inertial navigation. Int J Navig Obs. doi: 10.1155/2011/450269
  20. 20.
    Nieminen T, Kangas J, Suuriniemi S, Kettunen L (2010) Accuracy improvement by boundary conditions for inertial navigation. Int J Navig Obs. doi: 10.1155/2010/869127
  21. 21.
    Nieminen T, Kangas J, Suuriniemi S, Kettunen L (2014) Nonrecursive fixed-interval smoothing-based approach to attitude estimation. IEEE Trans Aerosp Electron Syst 50:1884–1898. doi: 10.1109/TAES.2014.120027 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Saratlija P, Zagorac N, Babić V (2013) Influence of kinematic parameters on result efficiency in javelin throw. Coll Antropol 37:31–36Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    STMicroelectronics (2009) LPY4150AL Datasheet. Accessed 22 December 2015
  24. 24.
    Titterton DH, Weston JL (2004) Strapdown inertial navigation technology, 2nd edn. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, RestonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Viitasalo J, Mononen H, Norvapalo K (2003) Release parameters at the foul line and the official result in javelin throwing. Sports Biomech 2:15–34. doi: 10.1080/14763140308522805 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Zatsiorsky V (2000) Biomechanics in sport: performance enhancement and injury prevention. Blackwell Science Ltd, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Sports Engineering Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olli Särkkä
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tuukka Nieminen
    • 1
  • Saku Suuriniemi
    • 1
  • Lauri Kettunen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Electrical EngineeringTampere University of TechnologyTampereFinland

Personalised recommendations