Many times when an athlete is beginning their education of the olympic lifts we see, as coaches, the athlete just try and rip the bar off the floor as fast as they can. This is a natural flaw that just about everyone goes though. At this stage in the athlete’s development they most likely don’t understand the mechanics of the lift and don’t currently have the practice knowledge required to feel the levels of muscle tension change that occurs during the lift. That’s why most people learn the hang variations first, before transitioning to learning to lift from the floor.
Why is this so bad?
The popular belief that pulling a heavy weight to the shoulders or overhead is going to require a thousand percent of the athlete’s strength from the first millisecond of the lift is hard but necessary for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is intended to reduce injury. Jerking the weight as fast as you can off the floor can lead to injuries to the neck, back, and even knees, especially without proper warm up. Secondly, moving too fast out of the gates with a lift will position the bar improperly and force the lifters body to compensate, typically through the lower back. With the weight far outside of the lifter’s center of gravity they will likely use their back and spine to adjust as the bar travels upwards and out of control.
In order to correct your timing it is necessary to reduce the weight being lifted and practice tempo lifts. Counting to 2 or 3 as you lift to the knees, then counting to 1 or 2 before getting the bar into the power position will help the athlete make not only the necessary neuromuscular connections required for these lifts, but also it will help the athlete understand that this tempo and ultimately the proper positions will only help, not hinder, the lifters ability to perform them with speed and power. This means heavier lifts!
Remember to take a deep breath and take your time. I’ve been saying this coaching cue more and more to my athletes lately which I took from one of the greats, and recent USAW Hall of Fame inductee; Coach Mike Burgener. “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”
The Bar Speeds Build with each pull!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Here’s a great (albeit more technical) example of the bar speed changes from Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics:
Not sure if you’re doing this? And, you want to make sure you’re getting it right so you don’t get injured? Then come in and schedule a training session through the calendar below!