The History of the Finnflier™, Finland’s Flight Training Javelin
Finnflier™ Since 2001
The Finnflier™ originated in Finland in 2001 as the idea of a javelin fan who was an expert in plastics manufacturing. He had the unfortunate situation of seeing a young athlete get hit with a metal-tipped spear and thought it would be possible, using his expertise in creating a wide variety of everyday objects out of plastic, to make a safe training javelin.
Olympic Champion, Tapio Korjus
In Finland, you don’t have to go far to find an Olympic or World Javelin Champion – in fact, one was living nearby the factory! So a deal was made, and Tapio Korjus, the 1988 Olympic Javelin Champion, helped in the design and testing.
Three sizes were created, bearing different names of famous Finnish throwers. They were sold throughout Finland and abroad.
Duncan Finds Finnflier™ in Kuortane Department Store
In the summer of 2004, I happened to be at the Finnish Olympic Training Center in
Kuortane as a coach. One day, a group of us went to a local department store and I bought a medium and a large Finnflier™. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of flight characteristics because I’d never seen a plastic javelin really fly like a real one.
I was amazed! Beautiful, floating flights! It was unforgiving of the flight – I had to throw it just right – but when I did, it flew perfectly. Tapio Korjus was there, and I expressed my amazement. He said, “You know about this because you threw the Old Rules javelin”. Well, he was right. The flight-sensitive Old Rules javelins floated beautifully when you threw them right and poorly when you threw wrong.
Could the Finnflier™ Help US Throwers with Flight Skills?
I then realized what a special javelin this Finnflier™ was. It showed the difference between good and bad flights and was safe, easy on the arm, and inexpensive. At the time I was working with USATF’s High Performance group, filming and analyzing javelin competitions. We saw that many top throwers in the US were losing up to several meters of distance due to bad flight skills. It took me a while to understand that the Finnflier™ might help these athletes, but now, it’s doing just that.
Finnflier First Imported to US
In 2009, I helped On Track, an equipment supplier, to import these javelins. They steadily gained in popularity, but. . . .
Duncan Coaches Injured Thrower to Win at 2012 National Championships
. . . I didn’t realize the Finnflier’s potential as a training tool until I was coaching an athlete who came to me with a bad elbow. This thrower’s condition made it necessary to focus on easy training of accurate flights with the Finnflier™, in an effort to keep his elbow healthy but still get useful throwing training done. It worked beautifully – we threw 15-20 throws with the Finnflier™ to find the flight line, then 3-5 throws with the 800g javelin to confirm that the technique transferred seamlessly. He gained a solid sense of how to create efficient flights and went on to win his 2012 national championships into a strong headwind. And the elbow was never a problem.
Duncan Begins Importing the Finnflier™
In 2013, I began importing the Finnflier™, and things really heated up. Schools were buying these javelins to help provide enough equipment for their athletes to practice with at a fraction of the cost of competition javelins. The coaches appreciated the safety features and the fact that the athletes were learning flight skills without hurting their arms. Another big plus was that their expensive competition javelins could be saved from wear and tear at the hands of their beginners – no more bent tails!
Top US Throwers Train With Finnflier™
In 2014, I wanted to see if the top US javelin throwers might be interested in training with these javelins to get their flight skills up. The result: the top high school and professional throwers I contacted have been training with the Finnflier™. They consistently report that it makes them be patient with their arm (a good thing) and that they really have to be accurate with their alignment. When they switch back to their regulation weight javelins, they find that the flight skills transfer well.
Lapua, Finland – Home of the Finnflier™
I made a trip to the Finnflier™ factory in Lapua, Finland, in the end of September. I achieved my goals to make sure the quality control was first-class and to discuss plans for expanding Finnflier presence around the world. It was great to see their setup and work on getting the system just right so the javelins are all perfectly balanced.
2014 – Phoenix
At the 2014, USTFCCCA convention in Phoenix, I was constantly receiving positive feedback and interest from the coaches there about how excited they were to find something that can teach their throwers good skills and save on arm strain and budgets at the same time.
The 2015 Season
For 2015, there are many exciting developments in the works. After my Javelin Flight presentation at the November 2014 World Javelin Conference in Finland, international attention on the Finnflier™ has taken a big jump. Athletes, coaches and retailers in France, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Latvia, Cyprus and other countries have all realized this is a legitimate training tool that can help athletes learn good throwing skills.
I am looking forward to continuing to hear all about the great training results coaches and throwers are having with the Finnflier™. Let me know what’s working, and contact me if you need help implementing this new training javelin into your program.