This post was inspired by something Danny Camargo said when he was doing a USAW course at Force Barbell a few weeks ago, and something he later talked about further in a recent video on his Instagram page. It is all about the feet and weight distribution in the power position.
The side by side photos above may look very similar to some people, but at the same time may appear very different. This is the part of the Olympic Weightlifting pull we call the “power position.” This is usually the position of the pull that many people screw up, and if you are new to Weightlifting you are driving yourself crazy over this part of the lift. This article is going to go over this part of the pull, what you are seeing, and what you really want to look for.
First Off, What Does the Power Position Look Like?
This is what a textbook power position may look like. If you were scrolling through an Olympic Weightlifting textbook, this might be the image you will see. However, when we freeze a video of a full lift, most often times we won’t see an image exactly like the one above. We may see something more like the following image.
Or this image.
Notice that during both of these full lifts the weight is a lot more heavy on the front of the foot, and a lot less heavy on the back of the foot? This is what I want to go over.
Is This Weight Distribution Bad?
Not necessarily. Now, if you are new to Weightlifting you should really work on keeping your heels flat as long as possible. With new Weightlifters, one thing we see is this weight distribution on the front of the foot a lot sooner in the lift. The heels may come up off the floor before the bar reaches mid-thigh in the snatch, or just above the knee in the clean. This is when we will cue to stay back on the heels a lot longer. This is what usually accounts for a very loopy bar path for beginner lifters. How to fix it? Be patient, stay back on your foot, and work on really driving straight down at the top. This will most likely take some time, and constant repetition to really ingrain the proper and more efficient movement pattern. We will sometimes use drills without the bar to get the athlete to feel this weight distribution on the back of their foot towards the top of the lift, or the power position.
Now, I’m going to go over something that may sound like it completely contradicts what I previously mentioned.
When working with lifters new to the sport it is necessary to work on keeping the whole foot flat in the ground at the power position, but it might not necessarily be the same for intermediate or advanced lifters.
Let’s go over these images again..
The heels are slightly lifted off the ground in the power position towards the top of the pull. One might think that this is going to result in a loopy bar path, but not necessarily. If the athlete is able to continue to drive straight down through this position, the bar can still remain straight, or as straight as necessary. It’s key to remember that in order to keep an efficient bar path the force distributed through the foot has to be maintained vertically into the ground as much as possible. Newton’s key law, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
Let’s look at these same athletes finish their pull.
As you can see, both of these athletes do a pretty good job at finishing vertically, and keeping the bar within the base of the foot. They weren’t very effected by the slight heel lift in the power position. If the bar was out towards the toes or even in front of the toes, then that would be something that we need to work on and fix. Maybe keeping the weight back on the heel longer, and/or pushing more vertically through the floor.
It is a common misconception that the heels have to remain completely flat at the power position. If the lifter is still able to keep a narrow bar path and the heels tend to come up early that is completely fine. If anything, the lifter might be able to transition under the bar quicker if he or she resorts to getting to the ball of the foot a little bit sooner.
As a Coach, you have to know your lifters. You have to know their weaknesses and strengths, and what, in the long-run is going to make them lift the heaviest weight possible on the platform. For some lifters, they may need to stay a little bit more heel heavy longer, while others can resort to getting to the ball of their foot quicker. It isn’t a one size fits all approach to technique in the sport of Weightlifting. Every lifter is going to be different. It is most important to know the lifters you are coaching. Know their abilities, know their personalities, and know what’s going to work best for that specific individual. Another important thing to close on, it is very important to know the level of the lifter you are coaching. Are they a beginner, intermediate, or advanced? Again, to reference Danny Camargo, this is most likely based on consistency. Are they consistent with their technique at all percentages or do they break down at a certain time? This is very important in regards to coaching their technique, and is something that should be taken into consideration when implementing anything previously mentioned in this article.
If you want a little bit more information from a much more experienced and qualified Coach than myself, here is the video where Danny Camargo briefly talks about this topic:
Quick tip: Must we stay flat footed at Power Position? I prefer it and teach it to beginners. Though they'll feel less powerful at first, the patience of remaining flat footed helps them control bar path. However, by nature we're all more explosive on the balls of our feet so it's hard to stop, especially with my intermediate and advanced athletes. IF, and only IF, they control bar path then I say nothing. In fact, many elite lifters around the world appear to go early onto toes as they enter the hips. So the answer: remaining flat footed or coming up early on toes fully depends upon where the bar goes. If the bar gets away, fix it. If they can control it, leave it alone an never mention it. Thanks @sherbert105 for the suggested topic. @olyconcepts #olympiclifting #powerposition #barpath #flatfeet #toes #control #olyconcepts #barbell #snatch #clean #jerk #technique #patience #coaching #teaching #athletes #platform #biglifts #pr #strength #power #agility #form #oly
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