Part 2 of USAW Sports Performance Coaching Certfication Lessons Learned


I mentioned the 4 fundamental mistakes in the last post, but I didn’t really specifiy them.  They are these:

Balance – where is your weight distributed relative to the bar and to your center or gravity?

Inappropriate muscle group tightness – my locked shoulders are but one example.  I can imagine others such as rigidly held arms, a stiff cervical spine holding your head (and thus your gaze) in an odd position.

Improper angles/positions – of limbs, torso, feet, head, hands, even eyes

Timing – a premature or prolonged pull or pull under for example.

My starting position off the floor was improperly balanced (too far back on foot) and had improper angles/position (not far enough forward over bar, buttocks too far down)

But here is a more subtle lesson I learned about position and balance.  We were practicing jerks.  The coach walked over and rocked my world with a single finger (no, not that way! Mind out of gutter people!).  He tipped my chin up about 1cm so I was looking at the exit sign hanging off the ceiling, not straight ahead.  Then he pushed my forehead back just a few millimeters to move my whole trunk back just a degree or two.  What happened when I did that was that my abs suddenly engaged and kind of locked up my whole torso.  Now I felt like a solid piston, so that in the dip and drive my trunk could much more effectively transmit the force generated by my legs to the bar sitting on my shoulder.  Voilá! Instant increase in jerk power with a tiny millimeter sized correction.

I’m still learning to finish my second pull (and by standing up, not bowing back so much).  Hopefully when I master this my little forward bunny hop will go away because I’ll no longer have to move forward to catch the bar.  I’m also drilling quicker feet sideways, not jumping up and forward.

My snatch grip got moved out a hair’s breath which I thought would be uncomfortable but which feels fine.

I’m playing with their suggestion of moving feet in a little more narrow in the first pull as a stronger pull position.

Another big lesson is one fundamentally of mental comfort.  In the snatch you can receive the bar at the bottom and then sit there a sec to make sure you’re secure then stand up. The weights aren’t as heavy, so the squat isn’t the limiting factor of the lift per se.  But with the clean, that front squat up IS a lot of the limiting factor, at least for me.  So hanging out at the bottom of the hole only makes coming back up that much harder.  I’ve got to focus more on catch and out, capitalizing on the stored kinetic energy in my legs and bar whip to help me out.  Pause squats are hard for a reason.  No purpose in making the clean recovery harder by “making sure” I’ve secured the bar.

Last but not least I was reminded of one great exercise and learned another, both with the purpose of getting under the bar faster.  The new exercise was the “shrug under”.  Basically you stand up with the bar (clean,snatch or jerk) then raise up on toes, shrug shoulders and DOWN.  No little dip and drive (this ain’t a high hang), just toes, traps, down.  This is an example here.

The exercise of which I was reminded (and for some reason seems to be blowing up my Instagram feed this week) is the “no hands, no feet” drill.  It’s a clean or snatch from the floor but no hookgrip and no moving feet.  I’ve heard it described with feet starting in the receiving position and in pulling position.  Here’s the US team coach Zygmunt Smalcerz doing a version here (which is kind of cool because, well, he’s just da man).

As a nice footnote to this post, I got my score on the final test in the mail yesterday.  100%.  Now I’m off to lift 🙂


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