Split Jerk - Trouble Shooting Tips

Rule #1

Start at the Beginning

The first rule is to start at the beginning. If there is a technique breakdown early on in the lift, all the other components after that will be effected.

For example, if there’s an error during the dip and drive, you will probably observe a problem in the catch. But is the catch really the root problem?

In this case, start by fixing the dip and drive and see if this fixes the subsequent problem in the catch. Often it will. If you’ve corrected the dip and drive, but there is still a problem in the catch, only then should you specifically address it.


Rule #2

The Focus of Technique Work Should be Technique

If you’re serious about getting better and have a significant technique limitation, you need to fix it.  We all love lifting to max and hitting PR’s, but perfecting technique is about skill acquisition.

You can read more about skill acquisition here [INSERT LINK TO PRCOACHING BLOG POST], but the short version is this: improving skill requires focus and has to be done on purpose.

That might mean slowing down the lift, focusing on sections vs. the entire thing, making sure you are fresh and not in a fatigued state, and using weights that enable you to perfect what you’re working on.

Until you become VERY proficient in the lifts, the vast majority of your training in the Jerk should be technique oriented. Select weights that leave plenty on the table so you can make adjustments and practice being fluid.

It sounds (and is) obvious, but you can’t practice having perfect technique with bad form. If you practice bad technique, you’ll just get better and more consistent with incorrect form. If you practice good technique, overtime that will become your new default. If the weight is too heavy to allow for solid, deep practice with excellent form, then you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be.

Once your technique is better and you build the weights up, everything will go a lot smoother based on a solid foundation of good form.


Rule #3

Get a coach or at least film yourself

Video analysis is very very helpful for coaching and analysing the Olympic lifts because they happen so fast. Using an App like Coaches’ Eye to dissect your lifts frame by frame will greatly enhance your ability to “see” the technique breakdown.


Rule #4

Mobility Restrictions

If you have a limiting mobility restriction and you can’t get into the basic positions that the split jerk requires, you’ll always have problems improving at the lift.

Mobility work isn’t as much fun as lifting weights, but if it’s holding you back, you need to take it seriously and put the effort in to correct it. If not, don’t expect to progress the way you could otherwise.


Rule #5

Focus on Only One Thing to Fix at a Time

When you’re coaching yourself, it can be VERY tough to limit your focus to one thing. But you need to.

The jerk is so fast that you don’t have time to focus on much more than that.

In each practice, pick one, or at most, two technique points to focus on. No more. Then set your sights on improving in those areas and don’t get caught up with other technique mistakes that you might make.

I still consider it a good practice session if one of my trainees improves on the specific thing we’re focusing in on, even if they miss lifts or make something else worse for the time being. It’s common that when we change one part of the lift (even if we improve it), and timing and feel of the later parts of the lift change from what the athlete is used to. The athlete needs to adjust for these changes in timing. It can take several repetitions to do so.

That’s part of the process and that’s why it’s important to define the success of your practice in narrow terms – so as not to get discouraged by these things. 

Mastery is a long-term process. Fix one or two things at a time. Stick with those items until you’ve accomplished what you set out to, then look for the next most important thing to improve.



Peter Roberts