All too often we see someone who isn’t confident in the jerk practice it incorrectly. Usually that is in the form of them simply taking a step backward with one foot as they press the bar out. Having dug a little deeper, we’ve noticed not many people understand where their feet actually need to land in the split, leading to them not being confident in the movement.
We first want to start by explaining why we split our feet in the first place. We do this in order to get low and under the bar more quickly than leaving our feet stationary. Just like with the other olympic lifts, we aren’t concerned with how high we can get the bar as much as how fast we can get under the bar. Yes, the most effective way to down and under the bar would be to receive it in the bottom of a squat like the snatch or clean but let’s be real here, who really has the mobility to make that happen. Therefore, the split allows us to create a stable base, under the bar, quickly. Plain and simple.
So where do our feet need to go? That is going to be personal preference, however, these are some general guideline to follow that work for most people. We must create a strong foundation to support the bar under. When in the split, the feet should be in the same plain as they are when you squat. Imagine you are in your squat stance and coming out of your feet are train tracks. As you move one forward and one back, they must stay in line with the train tracks. One of the biggest mistakes we see is an athlete bringing their feet too close together in the split, usually referred to as tight-roping.
Next we need to discuss the length they travel. This is simple. In the split, you should be able to comfortably drop into a lunge with your front shin being vertical and back knee stacked under the hip. This will insure were are actually creating enough length to make the split worth our while.
It is important that each person is going to have different levers and limb lengths but these principles will get us close to where we need to be in the split. Explore what feels best for you and always have a coach check your position to make sure you are staying honest.