You Don’t Have to do Everything Right… Just Most of It
If you follow me, there’s a decent chance you’re someone who enjoys technical detail and is bordering on obsessive about skill development in weightlifting. I’d say this is mostly a beneficial quality, but it can have its problems. Primarily, it can cause you to overanalyze what you’re doing (or not doing) and become overly focused on certain details.
This isn’t a problem exclusive to those of us with over-analytical minds—it’s a pretty natural response when learning weightlifting as an adult. As a kid, it’s easy to just practice movements and not get too worked up about them. As an adult, it’s more common to want to understand the minutia and become compulsive about achieving physical mastery on an unreasonably short timeline because you understand something conceptually.
First, I want to revise the article title slightly to apply directly to you: someone who is presumably not a perfect lifter yet and who has additional technical learning to do. You don’t have to do everything right… just more of it. In other words, don’t expect to come into the gym one day in the near future and be finished—there isn’t going to be a point in time when you perform only perfect snatches and clean & jerks from then on.
What you’re going to do is incrementally improve over time by making a large collection of little things better on average. That is, your mobility will improve gradually so you can achieve better positions; your sense of balance will improve gradually so you can better keep the pressure in the right place on your feet as you pull and react appropriately when it gets off track; your timing will improve in more and more of your lifts; your ability to think less through the lift and consequently focus more on being aggressive will improve.
This means that even when there may be quite a lot of things that aren’t perfect—and maybe even really far from it—your lifts will continue to get better over time. Pay attention to that improvement rather than obsessing over the absence of perfection. If the latter bothers you a great deal, I’m warning you now this probably isn’t a healthy sport for you.
When it comes to elite lifters, they’re not technically perfect, but they don’t need to be. The key is that the fundamentals are reliably in place and the majority of technical details are correct (and likely improving at least slightly still). In other words, elite lifters are as good as they are in spite of imperfection—those imperfections or even outright problems simply have to be significantly outweighed by what they do well.
This brings me to two final points:
Even an elite lifter isn’t demonstrating every single aspect of a lift perfectly, so you can’t successfully imitate a single one—you need to synthesize many lifters to create a reliable technical model. In other words, we create technique models by recognizing what works across the board—not just for a single lifter or even a handful. You can’t create a paradigm from an anomaly. Instead, use those oddities as evidence that you can get by with less than perfection and to help redirect your focus to the most important aspects.
And finally, don’t freak out and obsess over single details that you haven’t yet mastered, or may, due to anatomical peculiarities or injury, never master—keep some perspective and work on progressing overall with incremental improvement of many small aspects that will collectively create significant improvement of your lifts.