Dan John: Olympic Lifting—Etching vs Reaction

Athletes live in transitions. Dan John differentiates between when those transitions should be reactive and when they should be etched—as in Olympic lifting.

Olympic lifting is a master class in etching. In fact, I even argue to my athletes, “I don’t mind if you fail on your third attempt to win the National Championships with the lift.” That’s fine. Other than that, never fail . . . because we want etching.

Free throws in basketball should be etched. You’ll notice that in the NBA. Most of the guys will go bounce, bounce, bounce . . . shoot, or whatever their ritual is. That’s etched, but the game is not etched. It’s reactive. Where discus throwing and Olympic lifting are etched, basketball is reactive.

Defensive back play and maybe goal keeping for a hockey or soccer team or team handballany game is going to be reactive. I think you can make a defensive back better by training things over and over, but the game is pure reaction.

Where do the fighting arts fit? I would argue from I need to etch how the hip movement works. I need to etch strikes, but in battle it’s reaction, so you’re going to be living somewhere between etching and reaction.

Where I think the strength coach can help is to be master etchers. We are glassmak­ers in the weight room. We should spend all of our time etching the athlete. The more we etch, the more clarity we get. The cleaner we can get human movement, the more we can etch the athletes when they go out there.

Chip was talking about that earlier—I have to tell you, Chip, that was genius.

Athletes live in transitions. When I’m in the weight room, I’m trying to etch and etch, but when I’m out on the field, I’m go­ing to be reacting more and more depending on the sport.

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