Curt Morgan on Doug Torbert: Forget technique; just have fun!

Curt Morgan writes: It’s every masters athlete’s wet dream! You snag a bit of javelin training, you show up at nationals, you skip the long run-up and just shuffle through three short steps. Next thing you know you’re adding another M60 national championship to your trophy shelf. That was the scenario for Quenton “Doug” Torbert last month in Winston-Salem. “Technique Nonesense! Throwing the javelin is just like throwing a football!” asserts Doug. “Or throwing out a guy at home plate! Same difference!” The champ added: “Since I was young, I always liked to throw things. Oranges, rocks, you name it. It just comes naturally I guess.”

Doug Torbert

California Golden Boy Doug Torbert (center), flanked by his throws coach Ed Hearn (right) and Keith Ray. Photo by Shaaron Sellars


Curt continues:

Doug picked up his pointers from fellow thrower Ed Hearn in the weeks preceding the outdoor nationals in North Carolina.

“Before my throw, I was thinking, ‘Technique, technique, technique.’ Then when I got up to throw and, screwed up all the technique I ever knew. Anyway, it’s similar to the shot. Isn’t it?”

If it is, it’s a good thing. Two days earlier, Doug broke his own American M60 shot record, with a Paul Bunyanesque pitch of 16.69 (54-9), a full meter beyond Joe Meyers’ runner-up throw.
Doug’s motto may be “I’ll have fun!” but it took a mighty throw of 44.73 (146-9) beat out no fewer than 13 other spearchuckers. If the javelin is that easy, why aren’t YOU throwing it?

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August 10, 2014

9 Responses

  1. Barry Warmerdam - August 10, 2014

    The javelin isn’t that easy! Doug Torbert is just a uniquely gifted individual. Congratulations on winning a national title!
    By the way, does anyone know what has happened to Mike Brown, who used to dominate javelin competitions? He would be in this age group now (M60)but he hasn’t thrown for a couple of years…

  2. Tom S - August 10, 2014

    I heard that Mike Brown had an adverse outcome on a shoulder surgery.

  3. Gary Dixon - August 10, 2014

    I emailed Mike several months ago and he told me he underwent a supposedly simple shoulder procedure. He said the doctor severed a nerve during the procedure. He simply stated, no more throwing. We all have missed him at our monthly Throws Coach Florida meets in Clermont this past season. He is a great personality in masters track and more importantly a good friend to all throwers. We hope there is a possibility for correcting this and we see him back on the runway soon.

  4. Christel Donley - August 10, 2014

    Here are my 15 cents… after all the years of coaching and throwing myself, the “once in a while”

  5. al cestero - August 10, 2014

    a few years back i attended the shore conference (nj) championships. when i arrived somewhat late, i was greeted by a young friend who i competed “against ‘ in the nj international t&f meet for a few years in a row… i watched him turn into a competitive long jumper as well a sprinter during his 4 years in hs. jay was thrilled when i arrived after he completed the 200..he was on fire and told me “i got 2nd at 21.4′ i said great..”how’s the long jump..?” he said “i made the finals ..i’m in 6th ” these finals were stacked with all 6jumpers with pr’s well over 22′ and a couple over 23′. i watched quietly as jay took his first couple of jumps in the finals..he was frowning, and not smooth..his coach would say something then jay would run and jump but didn”t improve…he lost his mojo…i tried to keep quiet, but on jay’s last jump i had to whistle to him while he was “on hold “. he walked over to me and i said “what’s up..?’ he said “coach told me to adjust this and that etc” i said “forget your coach, look at me…you know about’ve jumped against me since you started jumping…you know why i still do it right..??” “because it’s FUN..i have FUN when i compete…you’ve got 1 jump’ll either hit it and be shore conference champion or not..but if you have FUN ..either way you’ll win…relax and have some fun with me those pearly whites.” his last jump was relaxed..smooth and far….farther then the rest of the field…5 jumpers later didn’t better his last jump…jay won… over a great field…after,.. he came over to me, his mom and dad and coach, and they all asked me what i told him at the end of the runway before his last attempt..i said “i told him to relax and have some fun ” :)

  6. Mark Cleary - August 11, 2014

    Congrats Quenton you had a great Outdoor National meet!

  7. Christel Donley - August 11, 2014

    al, please tell me, we “kind of agree” just different words…
    I had to learn what the word “relax” really means. I thought it meant: sit down! smile

  8. al cestero - August 13, 2014

    right on christel…for whatever reasons, tension seems to be the enemy and wastes much needed energy/explosiveness…that’s not to say adrenaline doesn’t factor in too…! my best efforts were when i was sick..had a temperature of over 100..bad head cold..i wasn’t going to miss whatever meet i had planned on, but as under the weather i was, when the gun went off, or when i was up on the runway…my reason for being there was FUN..and FUN i would have.even if it killed me…!! :)

  9. Quenton Torbert - August 31, 2014

    Just to clarify some points in the above article –

    First of all I would never be dismissive of ‘technique’ and all of the time, effort and commitment to practice it takes to throw any implement – especially the javelin where the flight is so affected by the release technique and other external factors once it leaves the hand. Of the seven throws I tried – two practice, five during the competition, only one went straight. The javelin on the other throws turned sideways, stalled out, turned down too quickly etc. It definitely is not like throwing a ball!

    Secondly, I did focus on the technical aspects I thought I might be able to execute on the day of competition. The Tuesday before the competition I got a 90 minute crash course on throwing the javelin from one of the world’s best Masters javelin throwers, Ed Hearn. It was, frankly, overwhelming how many technical aspects are involved – the grip, the approach, the footwork, the pull, the release…Ed pointed out that a common mistake of many throwers was to slow down at the end of their approach instead of accelerating. I decided to skip the approach and focus on the grip, the throwing position, and pick a target out in the sky to throw at. His final tip was to just throw as hard as you can!

    Lastly, the javelin is not like throwing a shot put for all the reasons described above except in its shared basic mechanics of throwing – left side block, right side acceleration. I have a good sense of what that feels like in the shot and it felt similar when I threw the javelin. Also, the weight training, plyometrics, etc. that I did for the shot put would have been similar for the javelin.

    In the end it was a ‘lucky’ throw (5 meters better than my next best throw) that just happened to go straight. I was happy but as surprised as anyone. It’s worth noting that I also tried the discus with no practice with predictably poor results finishing well out of contention. To be consistent and give yourself the best chance of doing well, you must be technically proficient and that only comes with training and practice.

    Quenton (Doug) Torbert

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