Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Some Thoughts on Technique

So does throwing heavy things a long ways.

High level lifting requires solid technical skills along with maximum strength levels.

Following are some excerpts of an article by Sean Waxman that he posted on his website. http://www.waxmansgym.com/ Sean is a U. S. weightlifting coach who has been outspoken in some of his opinions on optimal lifting technique. I like his breakdown here of some coaching variables and explanation of mechanics vs. technique. I believe this applies to throwing as well as lifting. I will include some comments of my own in BLUE.
Weightlifting Mechanics vs. Weightlifting Technique: The Science and Art of Coaching and the State of US Weightlifting
Weightlifting is one of the few endeavors
Along with throwing... both the scientist and artist can fall in love with because its beauty lies in both realms. The scientist is drawn to its order. It has a distinct beginning and desired end, and everything in the middle can be measured with precision. The tape rules. Based on these measurements, the scientist can describe with great accuracy the best way to achieve this end. The artist is drawn to its beauty. What could be more beautiful than an effortless throw?There is a process of deliberately altering variables, which will create a desired outcome. How skillful the artist is with recognizing which variables need manipulating and how to manipulate them will determine how beautiful the end result will be. A great coach is both scientist and artist. Well said. We've always said that too.
The artistic aspects of coaching Weightlifting and throwing such as training design and the manipulation of training variables are subjective. How a coach handles these aspects will depend heavily upon the specific discerning interpretations of his/her own experiences. These interpretations will be unique to a particular coach. The acute and chronic responses/adaptations to training will vary from athlete to athlete making it impossible to develop a consistent and precise “best” method for success. Again, training for optimal results requires individualization.
In contrast, the mechanics for lifting a barbell properly are 100% objective. It’s important to note, mechanics are not the same as one’s technique. Interesting statement. I believe this is true of throwing as well. Mechanics of Weightlifting are the forces involved with lifting a barbell and the causes behind them. Technique is the visual manifestation of these forces. Causes behind force production such as gravity, mass, and distance can be measured with precision. Using the aforementioned constants, variables involved with the mechanics of force production such as joint angles, bar trajectories, and balance can be manipulated in order to establish the most efficient pulling mechanics. In the late 70’s after decades of measuring and analyzing hundreds of thousands of their own athletes, the Soviets were able to quantify the optimal pulling mechanics. Have optimal throwing mechanics also been quantified? I'm not sure. Obviously each implement would have it's own mechanical absolutes. I would guess that speed and height of release would be constant.
The Soviets used the scientific method for establishing their conclusions. The results were tested with carefully documented, controlled experiments, which could be repeated by any other researcher. They did not rely solely on observation, hearsay or conjecture. Since the late 70’s, sport scientists from around the world have performed a multitude of research on pulling mechanics. Because humans haven’t evolved since the 70’s, and the effects of gravity haven’t changed, researchers have not found a more effective way of pulling a bar than was found by the Soviets. Cold war child that I am, I don't believe the Soviets or anyone else had the patent on performance in lifting or any other sport. However their methods are certainly worthy of study.
Although some top lifters may have observable differences in “technique”, this is not an indication of new lifting mechanics. As I have shown the mechanics of pulling haven’t changed. This much is fact. The observable differences in “technique” have to do with an individual’s peculiarities such as anthropometry or leg/torso strength distribution. These peculiarities will dictate actions, which will suit an individual lifter’s needs. The fact is, regardless of what we can observe, the mechanical action of the lifter/barbell complex for the top lifters around the world remains unchanged.I have to agree with this. Individual characteristics are manifested as variations in technique. But in the end, each thrower has to obey the laws of physics.
Until genetic engineering yields athletes with identical DNA, technique will continue to vary among lifters. And throwers And, until the laws of physics change, observable technique may be called “catapulting”, “Triple Extending”, or “Triple Lindy” - the fact remains, the forces involved in lifting a barbell (and throwing) and the causes behind them are the same now as they were 30 or more years ago.

The fall of communism allowed for the professionally trained Eastern Block coaches to emigrate. Armed with the tools of both scientist and artist, they teach the very mechanics some US coaches arrogantly disregard or don't understand and continue to transform mediocre Weightlifting nations into powerhouses while… this absurd debate lingers on.
Sean has an ongoing "discussion" with some other lifting coaches about certain aspects of lifting technique. While I don't think the throwing community has an equivalent basic difference of opinion, I think his explanation of the difference between mechanics and technique is relevant to coaching the throws.
Perhaps that has more to do with the current state of US Weightlifting than the triple extension.

Fight until your very last breath!


Sean Waxman is the owner of Waxman’s Gym. It’s an Olympic Weightlifting
and Sports Performance gym located in Southern California near the Los
Angeles airport. Its the only gym in Southern California dedicated to
all things Olympic Weightlifting!

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