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Old 08-06-2009, 10:10 AM   #1
Allen Yeh
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Default Coach Don McCauley and the Catapault Technique

Each of the videos is ~8 minutes long and it talks about why triple extension is not the preferred technique any longer. I posted these to see what more experienced people have to say as I'm still a novice in the ways of Oly and completely inexperienced in coaching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM9PDmrFWnM Video 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeGeP...eature=channel Video 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha5l6...eature=channel Video 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWpHC...eature=channel Video 4

A discussion about it over at P&B as well:
http://powerandbulk.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=43118
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:52 AM   #2
Greg Everett
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I’ve avoided commenting on this discussion for a while, but I can’t help it now. First Don McCauley is a far better, more experienced coach, and probably considerably more intelligent, than I am, but I do want to comment a few parts of his presentation that I disagree with.

First, triple extension is not a lifting style/technique, and this is a fundamental issue. Triple extension is just a description of what occurs during a lift – that is, the ankles, knees and hips extend.

What McCauley is really describing as outdated technique is simply POOR technique – that poor technique is not inherently coupled with extending those three joints. One can change directions quickly or slowly at the top of extension, and this appears to be his primary focus.

He is spot on pointing out the fact that the shrug is not a part of the effort to elevate/accelerate the bar, but instead is the initiation of the pull under the bar (I consider it largely a transition movement because it does overlap the up and down phases of the lift somewhat). But this is nothing new.

More important is the focus on leg drive and ankle extension. First, it needs to be understood that correct technique involves ALLOWING the ankles to extend as a natural product of aggressive leg and hip extension, not actively extending the ankles as part of the effort to elevate/accelerate the bar. Again, this is not really anything new to most active lifters/coaches, although as he correctly points out this, like the shrug, is not well understood by many in the S&C community. Actively extending the ankles (and correlatively, attempting to completely extend them), like attempting to shrug completely in the extending position, will slow the lift dramatically.

In Anthony Martin’s demo snatches, it’s abundantly clear that he does in fact achieve extension of the ankles, knees and hips (see photo). What is so exceptional about his lifting (and that of most excellent lifters) is that he is extremely quick to change directions and pull under the bar following this extension (which is the result of correct timing, which requires no active and prolonged ankle extension or shrugging while still driving against the platform). Again, this correctly timed, aggressive change of direction is what’s the key, not the absence or presence of ankle extension.



Now, there are some extremely successful lifters whose ankles extend very little. Again, though, this is not really a change in technique, it’s just an earlier pull under the bar – the ankles are on their way to extension as a product of violent leg and hip extension, but that extension is cut short as the athlete begins pulling under the bar.

The backward jump is simply the result of keeping the weight farther back over the feet – this is something that I encourage as well, as it works. But this has nothing to do with triple extension or anything else other than where the weight is balanced (it does have to do with the upright pulling posture, which I also encourage… Quite obviously).

Really the obsolete “triple extension” technique he’s referring to is, as I said, shitty lifting in which the athlete prolongs the extension, likely intentionally extends the ankles, shrugs as part of the extension, and is oriented too vertically rather than laying back to the correct degree to maintain proper weight balance over the feet. I guess from my perspective this isn’t all that prevalent in American lifters and the national + level… I just don’t really see it.

So, I agree in large part with what he teaches. I suppose largely what I take exception to is one, treating it like a revolutionary technique change, when from my perspective, it’s old news, and two, really de-emphasizing the drive of the legs against the platform.

Without drive of the legs as aggressive as hip extension, the lift will unavoidably be directed forward more than up. The drive of the legs against the platform is what reinforces the upward acceleration of the bar, and what causes the double knee bend, which not only prevents the hips from slamming forward into the bar, but redirects the violent hip extension force into an upward direction. If this drive is absent at the time of the hips’ final aggressive extension at the top, the knees will remain bent and simply slide forward, killing the upward acceleration of the bar and shifting the lifter’s weight forward as well as kicking the bar out.

So it’s very interesting… He and I are really on the same page in terms of technique… we just teach it differently, and I suppose I find his manner of describing it very confusing and misleading… although that is likely my own fault for being a bit simple…

To summarize this long, convoluted post:

1. Don is a great coach
2. Triple extension is not a lifting technique
3. Triple extension will occur with correct technique
4. Ankle extension is a reaction to aggressive leg and hip extension, not an intentional action to elevate/accelerate the bar
5. The shrug transitions the athlete from moving up to down, and should not be occurring while the athlete is still pushing against the platform
6. The key to getting under the bar is correct timing and aggression, not the absence of ankle extension
7. With extremely precise timing and very aggressive pulls under the bar, ankle extension will be reduced in magnitude
8. Leg drive against the platform IS critical, all the way to the top
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Old 08-06-2009, 12:49 PM   #3
Michael McKenna
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Greg, I think many of the coaches in the US agree with Don on this technique, and most teach this a bit differently. I spent a week or so trying to figure out who the coaches that teach bad technique are, and I think Don is talking about Coaches who have, at best, a passing familiarity with the lifts. For most of the coaches I've worked with the last 16 years, this is the technique I've learned and they've taught (although, at first, I was wrong as an athlete).
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Old 08-06-2009, 12:57 PM   #4
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Well good to know I'm not totally imagining it. I suspect Don is interacting with a lot of non-weightlifting athletic coaches/trainers, and this is why the old school, leaning over the bar, big ankle + shrug technique seems so prevalent.

I'm very curious to see how he describes and teaches it in his upcoming book.
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:23 PM   #5
Arden Cogar Jr.
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This is a very good and informative post. I'm looking forward to watching the videos that Allen posted when I get home from work. I both admire and understand exactly what Greg has written above. Thanks so much for taking the time to do that.

All the best, Arden
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:07 PM   #6
jake oleander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Everett View Post
I’ve avoided commenting on this discussion for a while, but I can’t help it now. First Don McCauley is a far better, more experienced coach, and probably considerably more intelligent, than I am, but I do want to comment a few parts of his presentation that I disagree with.

First, triple extension is not a lifting style/technique, and this is a fundamental issue. Triple extension is just a description of what occurs during a lift – that is, the ankles, knees and hips extend.

What McCauley is really describing as outdated technique is simply POOR technique – that poor technique is not inherently coupled with extending those three joints. One can change directions quickly or slowly at the top of extension, and this appears to be his primary focus.

He is spot on pointing out the fact that the shrug is not a part of the effort to elevate/accelerate the bar, but instead is the initiation of the pull under the bar (I consider it largely a transition movement because it does overlap the up and down phases of the lift somewhat). But this is nothing new.

More important is the focus on leg drive and ankle extension. First, it needs to be understood that correct technique involves ALLOWING the ankles to extend as a natural product of aggressive leg and hip extension, not actively extending the ankles as part of the effort to elevate/accelerate the bar. Again, this is not really anything new to most active lifters/coaches, although as he correctly points out this, like the shrug, is not well understood by many in the S&C community. Actively extending the ankles (and correlatively, attempting to completely extend them), like attempting to shrug completely in the extending position, will slow the lift dramatically.

In Anthony Martin’s demo snatches, it’s abundantly clear that he does in fact achieve extension of the ankles, knees and hips (see photo). What is so exceptional about his lifting (and that of most excellent lifters) is that he is extremely quick to change directions and pull under the bar following this extension (which is the result of correct timing, which requires no active and prolonged ankle extension or shrugging while still driving against the platform). Again, this correctly timed, aggressive change of direction is what’s the key, not the absence or presence of ankle extension.



Now, there are some extremely successful lifters whose ankles extend very little. Again, though, this is not really a change in technique, it’s just an earlier pull under the bar – the ankles are on their way to extension as a product of violent leg and hip extension, but that extension is cut short as the athlete begins pulling under the bar.

The backward jump is simply the result of keeping the weight farther back over the feet – this is something that I encourage as well, as it works. But this has nothing to do with triple extension or anything else other than where the weight is balanced (it does have to do with the upright pulling posture, which I also encourage… Quite obviously).

Really the obsolete “triple extension” technique he’s referring to is, as I said, shitty lifting in which the athlete prolongs the extension, likely intentionally extends the ankles, shrugs as part of the extension, and is oriented too vertically rather than laying back to the correct degree to maintain proper weight balance over the feet. I guess from my perspective this isn’t all that prevalent in American lifters and the national + level… I just don’t really see it.

So, I agree in large part with what he teaches. I suppose largely what I take exception to is one, treating it like a revolutionary technique change, when from my perspective, it’s old news, and two, really de-emphasizing the drive of the legs against the platform.

Without drive of the legs as aggressive as hip extension, the lift will unavoidably be directed forward more than up. The drive of the legs against the platform is what reinforces the upward acceleration of the bar, and what causes the double knee bend, which not only prevents the hips from slamming forward into the bar, but redirects the violent hip extension force into an upward direction. If this drive is absent at the time of the hips’ final aggressive extension at the top, the knees will remain bent and simply slide forward, killing the upward acceleration of the bar and shifting the lifter’s weight forward as well as kicking the bar out.

So it’s very interesting… He and I are really on the same page in terms of technique… we just teach it differently, and I suppose I find his manner of describing it very confusing and misleading… although that is likely my own fault for being a bit simple…

To summarize this long, convoluted post:

1. Don is a great coach
2. Triple extension is not a lifting technique
3. Triple extension will occur with correct technique
4. Ankle extension is a reaction to aggressive leg and hip extension, not an intentional action to elevate/accelerate the bar
5. The shrug transitions the athlete from moving up to down, and should not be occurring while the athlete is still pushing against the platform
6. The key to getting under the bar is correct timing and aggression, not the absence of ankle extension
7. With extremely precise timing and very aggressive pulls under the bar, ankle extension will be reduced in magnitude
8. Leg drive against the platform IS critical, all the way to the top
thanks for this post, i really took a lot out of it.
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:51 PM   #7
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Don has clarified over at goheavy that he's specifically NOT advocating a total lack of ankle extension -- merely, as you stated, that one should not try to extend as an active part of the pull. Ankles can and may extend passively as a continuation of your momentum, although (again as you mentioned) spending all day doing that is not too bright either.
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:41 PM   #8
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The history of weightlifting is essentially the progression towards spending as much time using the largest muscles possible. If you are on your toes, actively shrugging, bending the arms early, or otherwise pulling the bar up instead of up relative to your body, then you're not getting the most possible weight out of the lift. This isn't really a new thing. I personally don't fully extend the ankles - they aren't actively dorsiflexed, of course, but merely not extended completely.
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Old 08-23-2009, 04:12 PM   #9
Don McCauley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Everett View Post
I’ve avoided commenting on this discussion for a while, but I can’t help it now. First Don McCauley is a far better, more experienced coach, and probably considerably more intelligent, than I am, but I do want to comment a few parts of his presentation that I disagree with.

First, triple extension is not a lifting style/technique, and this is a fundamental issue. Triple extension is just a description of what occurs during a lift – that is, the ankles, knees and hips extend.

What McCauley is really describing as outdated technique is simply POOR technique – that poor technique is not inherently coupled with extending those three joints. One can change directions quickly or slowly at the top of extension, and this appears to be his primary focus.

He is spot on pointing out the fact that the shrug is not a part of the effort to elevate/accelerate the bar, but instead is the initiation of the pull under the bar (I consider it largely a transition movement because it does overlap the up and down phases of the lift somewhat). But this is nothing new.

More important is the focus on leg drive and ankle extension. First, it needs to be understood that correct technique involves ALLOWING the ankles to extend as a natural product of aggressive leg and hip extension, not actively extending the ankles as part of the effort to elevate/accelerate the bar. Again, this is not really anything new to most active lifters/coaches, although as he correctly points out this, like the shrug, is not well understood by many in the S&C community. Actively extending the ankles (and correlatively, attempting to completely extend them), like attempting to shrug completely in the extending position, will slow the lift dramatically.

In Anthony Martin’s demo snatches, it’s abundantly clear that he does in fact achieve extension of the ankles, knees and hips (see photo). What is so exceptional about his lifting (and that of most excellent lifters) is that he is extremely quick to change directions and pull under the bar following this extension (which is the result of correct timing, which requires no active and prolonged ankle extension or shrugging while still driving against the platform). Again, this correctly timed, aggressive change of direction is what’s the key, not the absence or presence of ankle extension.



Now, there are some extremely successful lifters whose ankles extend very little. Again, though, this is not really a change in technique, it’s just an earlier pull under the bar – the ankles are on their way to extension as a product of violent leg and hip extension, but that extension is cut short as the athlete begins pulling under the bar.

The backward jump is simply the result of keeping the weight farther back over the feet – this is something that I encourage as well, as it works. But this has nothing to do with triple extension or anything else other than where the weight is balanced (it does have to do with the upright pulling posture, which I also encourage… Quite obviously).

Really the obsolete “triple extension” technique he’s referring to is, as I said, shitty lifting in which the athlete prolongs the extension, likely intentionally extends the ankles, shrugs as part of the extension, and is oriented too vertically rather than laying back to the correct degree to maintain proper weight balance over the feet. I guess from my perspective this isn’t all that prevalent in American lifters and the national + level… I just don’t really see it.

So, I agree in large part with what he teaches. I suppose largely what I take exception to is one, treating it like a revolutionary technique change, when from my perspective, it’s old news, and two, really de-emphasizing the drive of the legs against the platform.

Without drive of the legs as aggressive as hip extension, the lift will unavoidably be directed forward more than up. The drive of the legs against the platform is what reinforces the upward acceleration of the bar, and what causes the double knee bend, which not only prevents the hips from slamming forward into the bar, but redirects the violent hip extension force into an upward direction. If this drive is absent at the time of the hips’ final aggressive extension at the top, the knees will remain bent and simply slide forward, killing the upward acceleration of the bar and shifting the lifter’s weight forward as well as kicking the bar out.

So it’s very interesting… He and I are really on the same page in terms of technique… we just teach it differently, and I suppose I find his manner of describing it very confusing and misleading… although that is likely my own fault for being a bit simple…

To summarize this long, convoluted post:

1. Don is a great coach
2. Triple extension is not a lifting technique
3. Triple extension will occur with correct technique
4. Ankle extension is a reaction to aggressive leg and hip extension, not an intentional action to elevate/accelerate the bar
5. The shrug transitions the athlete from moving up to down, and should not be occurring while the athlete is still pushing against the platform
6. The key to getting under the bar is correct timing and aggression, not the absence of ankle extension
7. With extremely precise timing and very aggressive pulls under the bar, ankle extension will be reduced in magnitude
8. Leg drive against the platform IS critical, all the way to the top
Greg,

Sorry I took so long to answer this but I was not a member of this forum, which looks great, by the way, and I didn't see this for a while.

I know triple extension is not a lifting technique. It is simple a movement of joints that many American weightlifting coaches misunderstand and misuse by overemphasis in teaching their weightlifters how to lift. Trying to deliver force to the bar, as I said in my off the cuff talk at Richard Soren's place, is the problem here. An emphasis on leg drive all the way to the top of the 2nd pull is not critical or even warrented.

The bar will not be driven too far forward by even extreme hip extension if it is initiated on the right part of the foot and is directed properly. Lifters that drive the bar too far forward at the start of the 2nd pull are not properly taught how to do the double-knee bend and/or which is the intended direction of hip extension. By that, I mean if you are to allow hip extension direction to carry you to the front of the foot, you will undoubtedly drive the bar forward. If you initiate the hip extension on the heels and raise your torso correctly, the hip thrust will be upward much more than it will be outward.

Triple extension does not have to occur with perfectly correct olympic lifting technique, but often does. Most of my lifter do so, (1) in a reaction to hip extension and (2) with a small amount of force used to get to their receiving position.

Many US lifters are still taught to accent leg(knee) extension to much too great a degree in the 2nd pull and because of this, our pull lines are forward and our transisitons are slow. This is the American bias to make everything a jump or jump-like.

The shrug, if even done, is only used to accelerate the athlete downward.

And, although I was talking to novice lifters and coaches from other sports, the same thoughts go to our own sport. Check the pull lines of our athletes compared to the world's. Check the air-time. Check the placement in the rankings.
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Old 08-23-2009, 04:47 PM   #10
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Glad you made it over here. I think we're largely in agreement with the exception of a few relatively minor points. The main ones would be the emphasis or de-emphasis of leg drive in the second pull - I do still believe this is a critical component to, as you say, moving the torso upward correctly. The only reason the torso moves up as a whole is because the knees are being extended - if they weren't, the shoulders would simply move back and the hips would drive even farther forward in reaction to this - extending the hips won't really drive the hips upward, only the shoulders. There will be some upward movement because the knees will be forced to extend somewhat with that hip extension, but a strictly reactionary knee extension will not support even the weight of the bar let alone accelerate it upward.

Bare minimum of knee extension with this emphasized hip extension of course will impart upward force on the bar, but not as much as combined knee and hip extension, particularly considering the effect that knee extension has on directing the force of the hip extension. Granted, the farther back over the foot the weight is, the less the hip extension will drive the bar forward, but ultimately, the direction will be forward rather than up, no matter where the weight is balanced - the different is how far forward it will end up.

RE ankles, we're on the same page - it's a reaction, not an action. Same with the shrug - it's the initiation of the pull under the bar, not a continuation of the upward acceleration.

I think our primary disconnect is the effects of continued knee extension effort. I don;t see it prolonging the pull, and in fact find it entirely necessary - a prolonged pull is the result of extending anything too long, including the hips - it's not inherent to the knees (it is inherent to intentional ankle extension and shrusg up, of course).

I'm with you on keeping the weight farther back on the feet, as well as jumping backward slightly. However, this and aggressive knee extension are not mutually exclusive. Pull lines will not be forward with complete and violent knee extension if that extension is directed, via weight balance, properly as you describe.

Finally, I'm not convinced that this is what separates US lifters from the rest of the world. I do agree that many of our best lifters do not demonstrate exemplary technique, but I won't be insulting or presumptuous enough to name any of them - I'm sure I don't need to point them out to you. However, this to me is not the primary factor, or even a considerable one. I can find a number of successful lifters from other countries who lift in ways that would arguably never be taught. Further, watching the lifting from Beijing and other recent world-class competitions showed me a large array of lifting technique variations, none of which strike me as extraordinarily unique with the exception of a few guys like Sagir who is quite simply an anomaly on multiple levels. Look at guys like Ribakou (sp?) - no question there is very active knee extension occuring, and he's pretty universally considered one of the best snatchers of all time.

There are numerous other factors that make huge differences in collective performances. First of course are the relative talent pools from which lifters are drawn. As you know, weightlifting is extremely obscure in the US and garners neither recognition nor money. All of our greatest athletes are channeled, understandably, to sports like football that offer actual careers and respect. Along the same lines, most of the countries (if not all of them) that are dominating the sport have systematic recruiting in place and are able to extract talent at a very young age and direct it into the sport. Additionally, the cultural and financial pressure to perform is far greater - it's a lot more motivating to perform when there are a hundred more great lifters just waiting to replace you. Finally, drug use cannot be ignored. While our top athletes are tested randomly and regularly (and seemingly as many busts are for things like marijuana than for anything remotely anabolic), drug testing practices elsewhere are extremely questionable, and the prevalence of anabolic use is demonstrated quite well by the number of positive tests at international meets, as well as suspicious withdrawals from competition.

Just my own opinions for what they're worth.
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