The Scoop or Double Knee Bend

The double knee bend or scoop might be more accurately called the naturally occurring temporary cessation of knee extension to facilitate the preservation of balance and repositioning of the body to optimize vertical propulsion… but that’s a bit of a mouthful.
This motion occurs naturally if you position yourself correctly when entering the second pull, and you drive forcefully against the ground with your legs along with the hip extension. You do not need to intentionally scoop your knees under the bar, and doing so tends to slow the bar excessively and disrupt your balance.
This scooping motion happens for two basic reasons. First, the hamstrings cross both the hip and knee—when you contract the hamstrings forcefully for the second pull, they want to both extend the hip and flex the knee, which temporarily holds the knee in its partially bent position.
Second, the body is naturally repositioning itself to allow the application of vertical force with the legs—the hips move forward over the feet, which means the knees that are stuck in a partially bent position move forward under the bar as well.
Once this shift in position has occurred, the knees naturally continue their extension with the hips because the legs are driving into the floor.
If you reduce or eliminate this vertical leg drive effort, you’ll execute horizontally-oriented hip extension like you’d see in a kettlebell swing—the knees will not scoop forward because they’ll extend simultaneously with the hips.
A simple demonstration of this natural scooping motion is to perform a vertical jump from a simulated second pull position. Stand with the shins nearly vertical, the hips back, and the shoulders slightly in front of the knees, with the weight even over the whole foot. Directly from this position, jump straight up.
You’ll find the knees naturally and unavoidably shift forward, exactly as they do in a snatch or clean.
A lifter’s proportions and relative strengths will influence when the knees move forward and therefore the degree of bend as they do. Lifters with shorter and stronger legs will tend to scoop earlier with more knee bend to capitalize on leg strength for more drive, while lifters with longer legs and stronger hips will tend to scoop later with less knee bend because they’re relying comparatively more on the hips. Neither is a better method to try to emulate—it’s the body organizing the optimal motion based on its abilities.
Yes, there are more factors determining the timing and degree of knee bend in the scoop, but this is the 2-minute version, and even that’s pushing it.
For example, not being posturally strong enough to stay over the bar longer will mean an earlier scoop regardless of other traits or intentions; a habit of pushing the knees really far back will tend to delay the scoop; pushing the knees out wider as the bar passes will reduce the degree of knee bend, etc.

And yes, there are coaches who believe the scoop should be intentional, and those coaches and I disagree, although there are cases in which it must be taught, such as certain athletes who’ve developed odd habits of over-extending the knees, or trying to KB swing their pulls, who don’t respond to less meddlesome interventions.

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