Monday, September 30, 2013

Active Pull Under the Bar

A common theme with great international lifters is their ability to transition under the bar with speed.  They understand the concept of and execute very well the task of actively pulling themselves under the bar.  Watch this video here of Apti Aukhadov (RUS, -85kg):

It's my observation that many novice and intermediate weightlifters and crossfitters I see lack this ability.  One of the most common mistakes that lifters can make is to rely on the speed of the upward moving bar and then drop under the bar.  I don't like the word drop.  It implies, to me at least, that there is no active use of the body.

You must alway be acting on the bar.  When you pull off the floor, you are actively driving your legs.  When you are transitioning under the bar, you are actively pulling yourself down.  Carl Miller wrote in his book, The Sport of Olympic-Style Weightlifting, that "if you pull or push yourself under the bar, you will get under the bar faster than if you just drop below it."

The active pull of the arms is something that must be trained and practiced almost on a daily basis.  Below is a list of exercises you can do to practice the active pull with the arms:

1) Snatch/clean rows
2) Clean row + press
3) Hang muscle snatch with no legs
4) Hang muscle snatch from the power position
5) Hang muscle snatch from above the knee
6) Muscle snatch from blocks above the knee
7) Muscle snatch w/ hip contact
8) Muscle snatch w/ no contact

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sporting Parents

I came across this article, "Sporting Parents", the other day from my old teammate and former colleague, Erik Healy.  Erik is the very successful head water polo coach of Loyola High School and Trojan Water Polo Club.

While this article isn't necessarily weightlifting related, I do sports performance coaching for a number of high school and youth athletes, and I agree with the author that parents play a critical role in the development of a young athlete, so long as they don't overstep their boundaries and understand their role.  After all, it's the parents who pay for coaching and club fees, drive their kids to and from training, practices and games, etc.  The role of the parent, however, goes much deeper than finances and logistics.

The author of the article makes a simple, yet great distinction of both coach and parent.  To briefly summarize, the coach's role is to prepare the athlete physically, while the parent's role is to develop values, time management skills, and responsibility.  You could say that the parent helps to develop the "intangibles" that coaches always talk about. Parents are also responsible for being as supportive as they can.

Can a coach help develop values, time management, and responsibility in athletes? Sure, but if these traits are taught and reinforced at home, it can make the job of the sport or performance coach much easier because it allows the coaches to focus primarily on physical development.

If you're a parent, do you consider yourself a "sporting parent"? If so, what are you doing exactly to fulfill that responsibility.  If not, what can you do better to aid in the development of your child's athletic development?