The importance of having a second eye on your technique October 07 2015, 0 Comments

Meet Marcia! She is CF-1 certified and also has coaching certifications ‎in the sports of Olympic Lifting and Wrestling. Marcia train out of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Check out her blog, The Snatch Monologues, for more lifting tips!

I both train and coach at Guelph Barbell Club. My teammates and I love our coach and he has helped us make significant strides in developing the skills required to effectively execute the snatch and the clean & jerk. However, my teammates and I make the effort to train with other clubs on a monthly basis and we have gained significant insight into lifting technique by doing so. Whether you train for CrossFit, Olympic Weightlifting or another activity, you likely have a favourite coach. But there is something to be said for having a second set of eyes evaluating your technique. 
As coaches, we often have specific things that we look for when evaluating movement. Depending on our experience with the movement pattern, we may focus on the "big things" like hip extension, or keeping the chest of the bar and occasionally miss a finer detail, like sticking the head through, or the position of the wrists during the lockout. Additionally, when coaches judge the same athletes for an extended period of time, some of those finer technical details become obscured by what appears "normal" for that lifter. This is where a second coach, unfamiliar with the athlete's technique, can be very beneficial.
Recently, I travelled to a friend's CrossFit gym in Charlottetown, PEI (Canada). The first day I was visiting, snatches (my favourite) were programmed. During the warm-up, I noticed that one of my friends was having difficulty getting the bar into a good overhead position, that is stacked over her centre of gravity. I noticed that although her bar path was pretty linear, that she was consistently catching the bar slightly to the front.
The snatch is arguably one of the most technically difficult lift to execute and successfully getting the bar into the overhead position requires a number of things to happen simultaneously. A lifter needs to consider proper foot positioning, tight core, active lumbar spine, hip extension, dropping under the bar, just to name a few. To some, there is a certain amount of magic involved in executing a successful snatch!
As I watched my friend warm up and add more weight on the bar, she kept catching the bar more and more to the front and ultimately ended up missing the lift. Frustrated, she couldn't figure out why the lift was incomplete when everything felt good leading up to the overhead catch position. While observing, I noticed that she was keeping her wrists flexed rather than extended, even when trying to stabilize the bar in the overhead position. 
I made the suggestion that she should flick her wrists into the extended position as she drops under the bar. That one simple little tip helped her go from missing the snatch to catching it easily. Why? You may have heard your coach taking about "stacking" in the overhead position. Stacking the weight over your centre of gravity requires that you use and extended wrist position because it is the most stable way to carry a load overhead. When the wrists are flexed, the overhead position is weak. However, by extending the wrists, we can support more weight overhead. Consider the handstand push up. You wouldn't attempt to support your body weight on flexed wrists during the execution of that movement, would you? The same goes for supporting the weight overhead in a snatch.    
Image 1: Guelph Barbell Club member Tiffany Hinds showing the overhead snatch position with flexed wrists.
Image 2: Guelph Barbell Club member Tiffany Hinds showing the overhead snatch position with extended wrists.