One of the weird nuances of the golf swing is the perfect balance between power and grace. In order to hit the ball far you have to be powerful. There’s no doubting that truth. Without a strong swing and a fast club head the ball will go nowhere. However, the other element of the golf swing that is often ignored by new golfers is moving with grace. Most elite golfers would tell you that they are not hitting the ball with all their might until the very last second. The backswing, follow-through, and all the other elements are perfectly timed and intentionally performed. The technique of a golf swing always boxes in the golfer’s power to be utilized at just the right moment. It’s the perfect combination of power and grace in order to achieve a 300 yard drive.
The same is true of a snatch or a clean or jerk. Clearly power must be applied to the bar in order to move heavyweight above your head or to your shoulders. There is no doubting that. This is why we squat and do heavy pulls and do all the strength work and the power work throughout the week. The element of power cannot be mistaken or replaced. It’s clearly applied to the bar the second that bar reaches the hips. If you were to measure the bar velocity of an elite lifter’s snatch or clean you would see that the velocity spikes as the bar reaches the hips and the lifter continues into a jump. This is the indicator for extreme power application.
However, we all know that the elements that take place up to that point and after that point are technique driven. If the bar is not in the proper place off the floor then the lifter cannot get it to the hips the proper way. If the bar leaves the hips in the improper way, we all know that the lifter will pull underneath the bar in a poor position. All of the small nuances of the lift matter. The most powerful man in the world would be largely ineffective in the Olympic lifts without pristine, perfect technique. How the bar moves off the floor matters. How close the bar stays to your body after it leaves the hips, matters. Your technique in pulling under the bar into the squat position matters. Technique in the lifts boxes in power application. It forces the lifter to be controlled and perfect until the very last moment at the hips when they are the most explosive and apply the most power to the bar.
Just like a good golf swing looks effortless so does a perfect snatch or clean or jerk. Watch the best lifters. It looks effortless. That is because their technique is so perfect that the bar is in every perfect position so that when they apply an immense amount of power to it, the bar moves right which should be. There’s a lot to be learned for how a golfer approaches a drive off the tee box with control and patience. Weightlifting is as much about controlling patienceas it is about power. Giving one or the other more concentration will lead to more missed lifts than made.