I got such a good response from the post yesterday that I wanted to spend the rest of the weekend drawing out the analogy between Olympic weightlifting and golf. It is Master’s week after all.
One of the comments yesterday was particularly good I thought. Here it is:
This is a beautiful analogy and thank you for perpetuating it. I’ve often compared my snatch in particular to my long game. The club MUST move through certain positions around the body to maximize leverage and thus power (sound familiar?) also, all the practice time in the world won’t be enough if you’re not practicing the right swing (or pull or catch or split) in fact the mantra practice makes permanent (not perfect) is just as often used In golf as weightlifting. I learned to swing a golf club when I was very young and often wish it had been a barbell I was holding all these years. I’d trade yards for kilos any day.”
Are you kidding me?!?!?! “Practice makes permanent” That is one of the better phrases I have ever heard.
In that vein I want to take a second and talk about the first pull as it relates to the backswing. If you don’t play golf this analogy will still help you. Just watch Sportcenter highlights this week.
In their research article for the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, Steven M. Nesbit and Monika Serrano state the purpose of the backswing.
“The golfer winds up during the backswing to create a distance over which positive forces and torques can be applied to the club thus creating a potential to do work”
Leslie King in his articles for Golf Today further expounds this concept.
“The sole purpose of the backswing is to correctly position the club at the top…The backswing is a POSITIONAL MOVEMENT. You do not hit the ball on the backswing…. that comes later!. You are merely correctly positioning the club at the top of the swing…..aligning it accurately…..for the downswing into and along the intended line of flight. If the club is out of position at the top a correct downswing will be virtually impossible without some compensatory movement!”
Why would I bore a bunch of weightlifters with the purpose of the backswing? Because the purpose of the backswing EXACTLY mimics the purpose of the first pull. The purpose of the pull from the floor to the mid-thigh is two-fold: bar position and building of torque and tension for the second and third pull. The backswing is the same. It is designed for the purpose of club position and buildup of torque.
If you watch a golfer at the Masters take his backswing you are going to notice a couple things. He is under control, smooth, not jerky, and intentional about what the club is doing and where it is. With the first pull the same thought process must take place. As the bar leaves the floor the lifter has to be intentional about maintaining a consistent back angle, shifting the weight in their foot from the front of the foot to the back, getting the knees back, building tension in the hamstrings, and positioning the bar in a perfect position above the knee for the execution of the second pull. I love Mr. King’s words that “If the club is out of position at the top a correct downswing will be virtually impossible without some compensatory movement.” These words are also true for the first pull. If the bar is out of position at the top of the knee, a correct second and third pull will be virtually impossible without some compensatory movement. Furthermore, in the weightlifting world, compensatory movement mean inefficiency and missed lifts where compensatory movement in golf means a snap hook.
The point is that you will never see a pro golfer line up on the ball and jerk the club back to the top of his backswing and you will never see a pro golfer rush the backswing. In weightlifting the same rules apply. Be intentional about what you are doing off the floor. Be aggressive but controlled. The first pull is a positioning movement and prepares you for bar speed. It does not create bar speed. Think of the first pull just like Tiger’s backswing: controlled, intentional, and exact and you will see the results in bar speed at the hips.