By Jim Schmitz
U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team Coach 1980, 1988 & 1992
Author of Olympic-style Weightlifting for Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifters Manual and DVD
One in Front, One in Back, and Finally in the Right Spot
I’ve been weightlifting and watching weightlifting since 1960, and I’m sure there are some who have seen more lifts than I have, but not many. When a lifter is taking an opening attempt and it isn’t a record lift but one that he has probably made recently several times in training and probably did just a little less than a few minutes before in the warm-up room, it always amazes me how often a lifter will miss a lift in front, and then miss a lift in back, and then on his third and final attempt, will make a beautiful right-on lift. This also is true if he misses the first attempt in back and the second attempt in front, and then makes a right-on lift. This final success is quite often an easy, near perfect-looking lift, and the lifter will shrug and give the look of why didn’t I do that on my first attempt?
The obvious thing going on here is that the lifter didn’t concentrate enough or wasn’t ready or prepared for the first attempt, and then overcompensated on the second attempt. These first two misses, then, really stimulate and motivate athletes to get it together and do it right, and they usually do. But why can’t a lifter make the adjustment on the second attempt and not the third? When a lifter misses a first attempt, I guess he isn’t too concerned because he knows he has two more attempts. However, when a lifter misses a second attempt, he realizes he has only one lift left and he’d better get it right, and he usually doesn’t overcompensate. He’ll either make it or just miss it very similarly to the second attempt.
I can assure you as a coach and a lifter that you will encounter this phenomena many times in your career. Sometimes you can stop it from happening and sometimes it is happening and all you can do is experience it. I am almost afraid to tell a lifter to watch out for it when he misses his first attempt because I don’t want him to do it because I warned him not to. If you are the lifter or the coach, you must try to avoid missing the first attempt, but we will miss that first one from time to time, and then you must try not to overcompensate; but if you do, you must really concentrate and try hard to make your third attempt because it isn’t automatic that you will put it together correctly. YOU must make it happen.
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