Application of Olympic Lifting Variations for Power Development
When training athletes in team sports like American Football, it's important to implement exercises and training methods that will gradually improve the rate of force development (the speed at which you can apply maximal strength).
Another important aspect to consider is the amount and type of force the athlete has to counter on the field (opponent, change of direction, jumping, etc.).
The first step to power development is to increase maximal strength of the classical lifts through high loads in order to improve the recruitment and synchronization of motor units.
For example, improving a lineman's Front Squat from a body weight 1RM to a 1.5 times body weight 1RM will improve the athletes power at hitting the sled.
After some time, the trainee will present an explosive strength deficit, which the limiting factor will become the rate of force development.
Improving power for team sports needs to be done in a continuum during the Specific Preparation Phase. This is where the Olympic Lift variations becomes of great value during the training session. These exercises teach the Central Nervous System to accelerate a load. In order to do so, loads in the 70-90% range should be used (75-80% being the average load for most athletes).
A key element to consider is that team sport athletes are not weightlifters so the need to perform an actual competition style Snatch or Clean and Jerk is not essential to the power development of the football player. The goal of the Olympic Lift variations in their training is to improve the rate of force development in the hip extension action of the athlete. For this reason, Pull and Power variations of the Snatch and Clean will serve the purpose of the training program.
Training the Olympic Lift variations will help the lineman become more explosive at pushing its opponent (acceleration of an external load), but will not necessarily make him more powerful for the vertical jump. This is when faster training methods like dynamic or plyometric training will come into play. Power output for sporting activities without external load (i.e. jumping) requires the Central Nervous System to exert its strength at an even faster rate.