How to watch a lift
This is to all the coaches out there:
When watching a lifter lift, what are your eyes generally on? Feet, hip/back angle/ bar path, all of the above and more? My hunch is that as you get more experience coaching, you can watch more of the lift. But for argument's sake, lets assume you are watching a lifter that you didn't just make a correction on (not particularly more worried about feet/hip height/ extension) etc. What is a general priority of movements/positions to watch?
My hunch is to try to watch the lift from the bottom up, paying attention to the following in order:
1) tension on set up
2) hip back angle through first pull
3) bar path
Thoughts/advice are much appreciated!
Depends on what you're looking for. Initially, I like to be farther away and at an oblique angle so I can see "everything". This gives you more of a big picture sort of take on the lift, and that allows you to decide what you want to focus on during the next lift.
So if you see that the lifter is being pulled forward, for example, you may move more to his/her side to watch balance, bar path, posture, etc.
But otherwise, yes, you have to watch in order of execution. Start position (including arm internal rotation), how the bar breaks, posture/speed up to second pull, balance in second pull, how extension is done (e.g. hips moving into bar too much, not extending adequately), third pull mechanics, receiving foot position and oh position, etc.
You can't genuinely pay attention to all of those things on a single lift - you can focus on maybe 1-3 things and the rest will be a vague sense about what's happening. But again, get the whole picture first and then choose something to focus on and you'll be able to get more done.
I'm not a terribly experienced coach, but I've spent about 5 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week in the gym for the last 10 months helping bodybuilders, crossfitters, and jarheads learn how to pick up weights without breaking themselves.
During the first lift I look for obvious deficiencies. Things like the athlete chasing the bar, getting all wobbly at the bottom of the snatch, feet landing mega-wide, blatant bar path eccentricities. If the lifter doesn't seem to have any obvious flaws, then I break the observation down further like Greg was just saying.
Having made it this far, the athlete would have to have a pretty decent grasp of the lift. For me personally, it's easier to watch a section of the body than it is to try to break down the lift into its technical components when I'm looking for problems. It just requires entirely too much concentration for my ADD ass to follow.
I start at the bottom watching the feet and shins, then the midsection (back and hips), then the bar path, then the elbows in the clean and the shoulders in the snatch. It's worked pretty well for me so far...no one has left the gym more broken than they were when they came in, though an awful lot leave with a newfound hatred for PVC pipe.
Watch Some Very Good Lifts!
It helps to spend a lot of time being around technically proficient lifters so that the rhythm of good technique is burned into whatever part of your brain records such patterns. Then when you see a deviation it will jump out at you. Ultimately you will have to be able to watch the entire lift and not just one bodypart or another.
I don't know why but the rhythm of real time lifting is slightly different than the perception you get from watching video. You need to get somewhere where you can watch lots of good lifting.
The coaching eye is a long term project.
I am no big expert, but I try to watch lifts from the perspective of fixing big, common technique errors, and then narrowing things down from there.
For example, very new lifters will almost always have one or more of the following:
- arm pull
- loose or rounded back
- hips shooting up
- bar crashing into knees (not "pushing knees back")
- all kind of second pull deficiencies, like not using the hips properly, etc
So when I am watching a newer lifter, I watch out for that stuff. If that stuff isn't popping up, then I try to look at their general positions at each point of the pull--where are they positioned at the start of the pull, at the knees, at the end of the second pull. Checking their feet to see where they're shifting their weight is helpful as well. For analysis purposes I haven't found looking at bar path to be helpful in real-time, exception being to confirm if the bar is swinging out during the snatch. Watching the bar doesn't tell me what they're doing wrong with their body that's making the bar move in the wrong path.
The third pull is often the last thing I look at, because in new lifters most issues with the third pull can be fixed by fixing the first and second. Exception is timing issues, like the clean crashing, but those are very easy to diagnose. Generally any lifter who is pulling the bar a mile high but getting squashed and rounded at the bottom of the clean is having crashing problems.
Arm Internally Rotated on First Pull?
Good discussion, sorry if my question is a bit off-topic!
Yes. Internally rotated throughout the pull. This sets you up for proper mechanics pulling down under the bar. It's not needed earlier in the pull, but it has to be in place for the third pull. No way you can instantly internally rotate properly at the top of the pull when it's time to get moving down. And if it's not instant, you're too slow transitioning under the bar.
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