When you watch sports if you are at all like me you pay close attention to the details of the athletes competing. I’m fascinated by the athleticism exhibited daily on our professional sports field. LeBron hitting a dunk over Tim Duncan. Ray Lewis completely demolishing a running back. Elvis Andrus diving for a ball before it escapes into the outfield. This type of athletic plays fascinate us. What I’ve noticed is that for a lot of sports these type of plays all put the player in a specific position. Namely an athletic position.
In basketball we are taught to be in this position when we shuffled down the court for drills. In football we are taught to be in this position when we were set up before the ball was snapped. In baseball you put in this position as a shortstop or any other infielder before the pitch is thrown. This athletic position is a position of design by which you gain the most potential to complete the play that is necessary.
In this athletic position you’ll notice that every athlete is balanced. They are not standing on their toes. They do not have all their weight shifted back into their heels. If they did they would not have the agility and ability to make the plays that they do. We know this to be the most athletic position any athlete can find themselves in because while in it they are most ready to perform their job. It’s the same position NFL combine participants go to just before they test their vertical leap.
Ironically, most of the same characteristics of this athletic position can also be said of the power position for the Olympic lifts. Weight in the middle of the foot (not in the toes or heels), bent knees ready to push off from the ground to accelerate the bar vertically, and most prepared to achieve extension in the ankles, knees, and hips. This is why achieving this position is so critical for a successful lift. It gives us the greatest ability to create power. This is why the lifts are so applicable to so many other sports, because we can use that same power position in almost every sport we play. Next time you watch an elite level weightlifter. Compare the position of their body when the bar is on their hips to the position of an athlete just before he makes a big play. You’ll find they are oddly similar.