July 31st, 2013
I just returned from the USA Weightlifting Nationals in Cincinnati. It was 3 days of watching some new lifters making their debut on the national scene, watching some of the younger coaches displaying their skills and just generally getting re-acquainted with all my lifting cohorts from years passed.
A good many lifts were missed or made more difficult by many of the first timers due mostly to 3 technical errors that are correctable through practice and the development of some new movement patterns. Upon listening to comments from coaches after these errors took place, I got the impression that the errors were not observed during the commission of the lift, and/or the coaches weren’t aware that they were a source of difficulty.
Anyway these errors cropped up time and again in Cincinnati and hopefully they will be corrected by the next major meet.
Technical Error 1–Failure to Move the Feet During the Unsupported Phase: The unsupported phase is that brief period of time after the pull is completed and the lifter reaches the receiving position in the full squat for either the snatch or clean. The feet should move rapidly from the pulling stance to the squatting stance during this time.
The first reason to do this is that the stance for front squatting and overhead squatting is in almost all cases wider than that for executing the best pull. Attempting to squat with a pulling stance will inevitably cause the lifter to have to lean forward. That leaning forward usually results in a missed snatch forward or an awkward or missed catch in the clean.
The second reason is that during that brief period of time when the feet are clear of the platform, the lifter can drop much more rapidly into a receiving position. Of course the length of time that the feet are not planted should be as brief as possible in order to shorten this supported phase.
The remedy for this problem is to practice the snatch and clean on toes with an emphasis on moving the feet to the proper stance.
Technical Error 2—Starting the Jerk Drive with Lock Knees
When the dip for the jerk drive begins with the knees locked, the first joint to bend is the hip. This causes a forward lean of the torso and sets the barbell up for a forward directed trajectory. I observed many jerks that could have been successfully completed were it not for the lifter starting with knees locked straight.
The obvious solution is to begin with the knees unlocked. This will allow the athlete to dip straight down with the pressure on the heels, and then to subsequently drive the barbell straight overhead.
Properly executed push presses or jerk drives can assist in overcoming this unfortunate pattern.
Technical Error 3—The Dip and Split
There was a great deal of this error taking place. Instead of dipping down to the optimal jumping position, and then driving upward violently with fully extended legs and shrugged shoulders, many lifters dip down, perform a half-hearted leg drive nowhere near full extension and then drop into a wide split. Without the momentum developed by a full leg drive, the arms are engaged too soon and can only push the lifter backwards away from the bar during the unsupported phase. Inevitably the jerk is lost in front.
This can be remediated by the aforementioned jerk drives. This exercise, by the way, is one that can be used to develop technique by practicing it before actual jerking and even as a part of warm-up. To develop jerk driving power, it can be performed with heavy weights toward the end of a workout.