Missing And Moving Up In A Weightlifting Competition

Is missing and moving up in a Weightlifting competition a good idea?

While working/watching the American Open III in Grand Rapids, MI it felt like lifters were missing and moving up quite a bit. More often than not it didn’t seem to work out well. Out of curiosity, I decided to quantify it.

From the final results, I counted 628 lifters. That’s a big sample and what’s cool about large competitions like the American Open events is that it’s wide-ranging in terms of lifter demographics. There’s a little bit of everything in terms of age, ability, and experience.

So guess how many of the 628 lifters in Grand Rapids moved the weight up after missing a lift.

The answer, 176 or roughly 28% of the field. Several did it multiple times. Sometimes in both lifts.

Overall, they were successful about 33% of the time. I’ve looked at past National events before and found success rates hover a little higher than 50%.

Conventional wisdom says to repeat after a miss but for a myriad of reasons lifters often buck convention. Here’s what the results of the AO3 show in regard to those who did so:

The most popular: Moving up after a 2nd attempt missed Clean and Jerk

Moving up after a second attempt miss in the Clean and Jerk often doesn’t feel like a bad idea or huge gamble. The results of the American Open III say it is.

It makes sense that this attempt is where the most gambling occurs. At this point in a competition, most lifters have already had a good or bad day and they know if they are in or out of the game for medals. It’s here where risks, based on the situation and/or emotions, play out. Also, many want to rest as long as possible so they move up for additional time to recover.

One problem; it didn’t work out well for those who did it. Overall just 20 of 92 occurrences ended with a successful 3rd attempt. That’s a 22% hit rate. Third attempt C&J’s historically carry the lowest success rate of any attempt but this has to be below average.

If you think “just 1kg” for (whatever reason) is no big deal. Think again. Those who took jumps bigger than 1kg actually fared better. They hit 26% of the time. Lifters who moved up just one little kilo following a second attempt C&J miss succeeded 17% of the time. I guess is if you are going to gamble, bet bigger than 1kg.

Least popular: Moving up after a first attempt Snatch miss

This also makes sense. For the most part lifters and coaches opted to repeat after missing an opening attempt Snatch. Only 15 times did someone move up. 7 were successful. Oddly, this small sample hit their second attempt about as often as those who simply repeated at the same weight.

Most risky: Moving up in a “do or die” situation

If repeating with the same weight following a miss is sound advice, repeating after two misses should be a religious doctrine. With their backs against the wall and on the verge of bombing-out, 20 people tried moving up after missing their first two attempts (with the same weight). Nathan Damron and 3 others pulled it off. 20% success rate.

If you miss your opener (in either lift) and move up then miss your second attempt please don’t move up again. 6 lifters moved up twice after consecutive misses. All of them bombed.

Least risky: Moving up after an opening attempt miss

As mentioned above, 7 of 15 lifters who moved up after missing their opening Snatch attempt went on to make their second. That’s basically saying the risk is flat compared to the overall success rate of all lifts.

38 times a lifter moved up after missing their opening Clean and Jerk. On average, across all age groups and both genders, the average jump was 2kg. Believe it or not, 22, or 58%, made their second attempt Clean and Jerk. That’s surprising.

What’s the takeaway?

Despite the sample size, the American Open III is just one competition. I scratched an itch on this one. While nothing shocking comes from this it’s still good to put numbers next to things we sort of know but often ignore.

Lifters always believe, or say they believe, they can make it and often take bad risks. Maybe hard numbers can help bring us back to reality when things are going sideways. Sometimes a lifter and coach choose to do what they feel they must. Often, however, emotions and feelings factor heavily into the decisions we make in competitions. Ultimately, some baseline % of success rates in given situations can go a long way in improving decisions and outcomes if we are willing to listen.

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