Snatch It. Clean It. Jerk It. Shiney Sparks Explains.
We’ve brought baseball, football, basketball, soccer, rugby, ultimate Frisbee, golf, and lacrosse under the Sports Explained microscope. We rolled on Shabbos with bowling. Last week, we asked “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” and took on figure skating.
What about feats of raw strength? This week, here at Sports Explained, we are going to Snatch it. We are going to Clean it. And we are going to Jerk it. That’s right. Weightlifting.
“Weightlifting is described as ballet with a barbell, poetry in motion and a beautiful work of art.” – Chad Vaughn
Shiney Sparks, author of Raise the Bar. Face the Bar: 7 Life Lessons I Learned From Lifting Heavy Things, breaks it down.
Snatch It. Clean It. Jerk It.
You feel a little dirty now, don’t you? Nah! These are just some funny names that we use and have for the Olympic Weightlifting.
Olympic Weightlifting is a sport rich with history that spans over three centuries, the 19th, the 20th and the 21st century. Though it a sport with a worldwide following, sadly not many people know much about it. In this sport, an athlete attempts a maximum-weight single lift with a barbell loaded with weight plates. It consists of two lifts: the “Snatch” and the “Clean and Jerk”.
In competition, the athletic is given three attempts in each and the weight of the highest successful lifts will be added to the total and the best total wins.
The main aim of this sport is to lift the weight with a flawless execution.
This is an example of how not to do it. Losing your arms is considered to be poor form:
So what is Snatch?
“Snatch” is a single movement where the barbell is pulled from the floor and flip it overhead in a squat position. It is consider as the “fastest lift in the world” as it takes only one second or less to get the barbell from the floor to the overhead position.
It is also a movie, starring Brad Pitt, where he speaks in a dialect so strong that they need subtitles. And even then…its hard.
Stay focused on the weight!
So what is Clean and Jerk?
Clean and Jerk is the ultimate test of the lifter’s strength and power. Even though it is broken into two parts, it is classified as one lift.
“Clean” is a movement where the barbell is pulled from the floor and received in a front squat position with the barbell resting on one’s shoulders.
“Jerk” is a movement where the barbell is raised from the shoulders and jerking it overhead, with the arms locked out. The movement is only completed when the hips and legs fully extend.
“Clean and Jerk” is where you combine both the “Clean’ and the “Jerk” into one movement and it is not easy at all as it needs a big pull for the clean and a big front squat to come out of the squat position and then an enormous effort to complete the jerk.
When you put it all together…you get to this level, the Olympics, where snarky commentators can criticize your choice of footwear, mock you relentlessly, and on occasion wax lyrically about your “relationship with the bar”:
So there you have it: Olympic Weightlifting, explained.
What sport do you want us to enlighten you about in next week’s Sports Explained?
We want to hear from you!
Photo credit: Hulu/Saturday Night Live Skit (screen capture)
Join our community at the The Good Men Project Sports Facebook Page.