Ask the Coach: Jerk Recovery

Tuesday, 6/23
June 22, 2015
Wednesday, 6/24
June 23, 2015

With max jerks on the docket for class on Thursday, no surprise that this lift is on our minds as we kick off a new series on the blog — Ask the Coach.

Many thanks to one of our resident Olympic weightlifting coaches, Coach Mike, for “stepping forward” to tackle this oft-asked question about which way you should move your feet to recover from the split jerk and finish the lift. 

Juan V. finishing 15.1 on the right foot

Q: Why should you recover from a split jerk with your front foot first?

Coach Mike: Short answer: It keeps the bar more stable and balanced during recovery from the split jerk to the standing position.

Each of the three Olympic lifts (snatch, clean, jerk) relies on a balanced receiving position. In the split jerk, prior to recovery, the athlete’s frame bears the load stacked over her hips and shoulders. Muscles are stabilizing the load in this locked position with the weight overhead. The load distribution is approximately equal over both feet. Assuming all this happens, this is a very stable position.

All this is also required to transition from one stable position (split) to the finished position (both feet together).  Shuffle-stepping front-back-front in smaller increments helps minimize instability in recovery by keeping the load stacked over hips and shoulders. If taking one large step (or two small ones) with the back foot only, this moves the center of gravity forward forcing the athlete to chase the bar in that direction.

Ideally, the bar should remain about the same vertical plane from its split jerked position to its completed recovery. A front-back-front shuffle-step is the best way to achieve that.

Side note: if shuffle-stepping does not keep the bar balanced overhead, take smaller steps. At very light weights, take the time to feel what “balanced” feels like between each step. This is much easier to feel than it is to teach.

Coaches: they’re just like us!  Before donning the USAW National Referee blazer… before taking the platform at the Masters Weightlifting World Championships… way back in the dawn of his weightlifting career (or, more precisely, early 2009), Coach Mike had to learn to recover with his front foot, too. 

Got a question for a coach?  We’re all ears!  Give us a shout in the comments below, or ask away on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  

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