“So I need to pull slow or fast?”
“Yes. Kind of.”
As you may have heard, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. This is true for the Olympic lifts (you may want to triple that number as there are 3 different lifts;). But, if you are walking into the gym 1x per week to perform the lift this will NEVER happen (so you need to increase your frequency of practice). Likewise, even the most dedicated lifter several months into training must be patient. A great quote on the back of John Thrush’s Team Calpian’s t-shirts is, “beware the fury of a patient man.” Took me a long time to understand that one. But, it was just the combination I needed to add to my see bar and kill it mentality.
“Power Positions”: Hip for snatch and thigh for clean.
So, setting yourself up for that point is crucial. In reality, you can make some mistakes on the way up until you get there and finish so well at the top of the pull that all mistakes are forgiven, but DON’T bet on it! That is fool’s gold.
The job of the first pull is to get set for the finish, if you destroy this on the way there, you screwed the pooch. So, rushing this point and trying to explode off the floor is not wise. At this point you would do better pulling SLOOOOOOOW and SMOOOOOOTH. At least to get your rhythm and pull down. Once this is MASTERED, NOT BARELY ACHIEVEABLE 3 out of 10 times, but MASTERED, then you can EARN more speed.
Think of the correct tempo or rhythm of the pull as a space shuttle taking off into orbit. At the takeoff point it throws out tons of flames with a huge slow push off of the ground and builds speed as it takes off into outer space, hitting a peak velocity as it nears outer space (and yes, sometimes pulling from the proper position off the floor will feel less strong/fast than the way you want to rip it off with a soft back/arms/hips too high, etc. But, it doesn’t matter how you start but how you FINISH! And, as you now see how important it is to be in the right place to start, so that you can be in the right place to FINISH, then it is worth it).
It should NOT be: Rip off the floor with maximum pull/speed/power. This burns out your energy too soon off of the floor and gives way to faulty patterns like hips shooting, center of gravity going too far forward into the forefoot, and ultimately very little left to give once you get to the power position /hips/thighs to finish your pull. BUILD SPEED. And now you understand, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”-Coach Burgener
It is a rookie mistake to come in and start dropping snatch bombs like the ultimate warrior if you have no consistent bar path or rhythm. Then, you are merely a hack taking pot shots with the barbell (Prepare for the bad pains and injuries). When you are finesse-full, technically sound, and consistent, drop those snatch bombs and bring the speed! And then you will understand the saying, “nothing feels better than a good snatch.” Dork.
In part 2 of this article series next week, we will provide some great fixes for your pulling mechanics and tempo…