Time is a curious thing, set in stone in terms of actual rate of passing but, at times seemingly controllable at a mental level anyway.
The RKC / SFG snatch test is 5 minutes in length, in which time you must snatch a 24kg (for men) 100 times with great technique. Failing to lock out the arm, failing to reach a vertical arm position or demonstrating unsafe practice will result in a no count, of which you will only receive three!
Prior to the RKC certification weekend, snatch training had been a planned process, one snatch at a time and mostly for less than 10 at a time per arm before taking a planned rest.
Every snatch training session followed a planned, laid out progression to ready me for my assessment and the weekend training itself.
Initially I trained a humble 5 L/R per minute for 5 minutes, then progressed up from there for a maximum of only 8 minutes of snatching at 10 L/R per minute.
In the 10 weeks prior to the RKC weekend, every snatch training session I snatched the kettlebell. Read that again, I ‘snatched’ the Kettlebell! That’s all I did in training on snatch day, snatch the kettlebell. I thought only of snatching the kettlebell. “Cool”, you say, “that is the objective, stop repeating it”.
In most learning circumstances we start with a cognitive approach, with focus and attention to the detail, to mistakes and fixing them, before the learned skill becomes automatic and habitual. This is much like jumping into your car and just driving to your destination without thought for how to drive, you still drive. Naturally I assume you are a competent driver! But, whilst in the learning stage of an exercise or activity, cognition is of utmost importance. If you end up practicing sub-perfect reps you are only getting better than practicing sub-perfect reps.
By the time the RKC weekend was upon me I had accumulated many, many hours of snatching. Apart from the prior 10 weeks plan I had of course spent time snatching during other routines for a couple of years. I had earned the right to just snatch automatically, without much thought as it was pretty simple… not always easy, but a simple move I felt competent at.
But, here’s the thing (that I’ve been winding myself towards in this post), a somewhat weird thing that happened on test day that deludes me today, a year later and an experience that I’ve not since experienced. The tests for those who don’t know, start off with all of the candidates lined up in teams with our assessors, and each of us takes our turn at the test Turkish Get Up, Swing, Clean, Squat, Press and finally the 5 minute Snatch test.
My Snatch test started off rather cool. In fact I snatched out a comfortable 20 L/R to get rolling then I found myself in an odd place. As I started to get comfortable with the discomfort of snatching I began to spend time on every snatch planning each movement component of the snatch. From the top as I inhaled sharply I simultaneously goosenecked my wrist, pulled the bell down, hinging my hips, reaching far behind me before recoiling, extending my knees and hips with a simultaneous sharp exhale, seeing the bell float up in front of me before punching out the lock out and all with a seemingly slow progression, like time was going slowly enough for me comprehend and focus on each and every movement.
This might all read rather silly… unless you’ve ever experienced such focus that time does indeed seem to pass more slowly. The big picture of this particular event is of course to always think about what you are doing in an exercise, to focus intently and not to become complacent or automatic. Oh, and I passed my 100 snatch test in under 4:20!
Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
Alexander Graham Bell