Thursday, May 15, 2014

Improving Technique

Often it is easier to teach good technique to female lifters as they generally come in with less experience and therefore, less bad habits.
Below is a great (un)commonsense approach to teaching and correcting technique errors by Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics. It goes without saying that first, one must know what proper technique looks like, then it is a matter of getting the athlete to feel the positions. Finally, the end result is getting the athlete to move through the positions in a fluid manner. Of course it is much easier to teach good form than it is to correct ingrained poor habits.  Either way, the approach is the same. Get the athlete to feel proper positions, then design and modify drills to help them move through the desired position.

Training Tip: Feel it First

A point I try to emphasize in all of my seminars is that it’s generally easier and more effective to teach athletes’ bodies what to do than to teach their brains. That is, if you can get the athlete to move the way you want through exercises and lift segments, you’ll make more progress in less time than if you attempt to teach them conceptually what they should be doing.

One area where this is very simply illustrated and immediately effective is in abbreviated complexes that allow the athlete to first feel the position or movement you’re trying to get them to do in the snatch, clean or jerk, followed by a snatch, clean or jerk to apply it.

An example of this would be an instance in which an athlete is failing to extend the hips fully and keep the bar moving close to the legs up to the hips in the snatch. I will often have that athlete do 3 snatch deadlifts from the knee to a simulated finish position with the legs vertical and the hips slightly hyperextended (shoulders behind the hips), lightly sliding the bar up the thighs as they perform the movement at a relatively slow speed, followed by a snatch from the knee. I have yet to see this particular drill not create immediate improvement to some degree.

An even more simplified iteration of this is simply having the athlete stand in that simulated finish position before the lift—to feel that orientation and balance of the body so the body knows where it should be going.

Figure out what the body is failing to do, then get the body to do it, whether or not the athlete understands what or why, and then before the athlete has time to think about it, get them to perform the lift you’re trying to correct. If you do this well—that is, choose your drills appropriately—you’ll see marked improvement.
This is what can happen when you focus on "just getting the weight up" with no regards to proper form. Unfortunately this is common place in many weight rooms.

In spite of the above comment on female lifters, males do not hold a patent on poor technique. A beginner with a poor coach is still a disaster waiting to happen.

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