Number Six, March 2002    -    INFORMATION FOR NOVICES
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By Wade Hanna, from the USAPL Michigan site

    "Upon receiving the Chief Referees signal, the lifter must bend the knees and lower the body until the top surface of the legs at the hip joint are lower than the top of the knees."
Squatting, it is the first of the lifts in every meet and tends to set the pattern for your whole day. In the not so distant past a major (seemingly) issue has arisen concering the depth rules surrounding the squat. The terms "convincingly deep" and "parallel" are used frequently and argued adamentantly as the standard. It is our hope to clarify what the rules state are a legal squat and the depth that is therefore looked for and subsequently judged. This is intended as a clarification tool and nothing more.

In the above Diagrams we are attempting to illustrate a squat. Keep in mind, these are diagrams and subject to minor imperfections, the actual look of most squatters will vary greatly especially given the vast range of builds among the various weight classes and gender of Powerlifters (i.e. One example would be SHW lifters with large legs, the ~back~ of their thighs, due to their girth, will be much closer to the ground giving the appearance of greater depth). Given that, the above Diagrams illustrate the fundamental points for legal squat depth. In Diagram A the red line represents a guide between two main points that judges are looking at to gauge a lifters depth. As stated in the rulebook the top surface of the leg at the hip joint must descend until it is below the top of the knees. In the Diagram A this represents a just legal squat as shown by the red line, the top surface of the leg (at the hip) is just at/below the top of the knees. Diagram B illustrates what the top surface of the leg at the hip is. It is not the hip joint itself which would have to be gauged as to its actual location.

Diagram A represents a very 'grey' area for judges. The time that a lifter will remain at this position for a judge to gauge depth is fractional. Judging is ultimately a subjective venture that is governed by objective standards. Given the visual representation of these diagrams the above squat would be +/-50% chance of passage. It is simply too close to call with utmost certainty given that there are no lines to use for reference in a meet and the time given to gauge the relation of both points is minimal. For illustration it is a good tool to use to understand the basic depth required by the rules. This is the standard we use in Michigan to judge the depth of a squat as stated by the rules.

Diagram C represents a very legal squat. Diagram D again represents the top surface of the leg with which to gauge depth against the top of the knee. These diagrams represent an example of what you could call "convincingly deep." This is by NO MEANS to be taken as A STANDARD FOR DEPTH. The only meaning of the phrase "convincingly deep" are in the words of the phrase. "Convincingly" means just that...given the illustratin in Diagram C versus the Illustration of Diagram A we can easily see how a judge will be convinced of legal depth given the limitations of the subjective aspects of judging as outlined above. Diagram C & D are NOT the standard for depth. It is only included here to show ONE EXAMPLE of a squat that is easily going to convince a judge of depth. The actual standard for depth is visually represented in Diagram A above and that is the minimum depth that needs to be attained.

If minimum depth (shown in Diagram A) is what a lifter chooses to squat to, they are risking the human error factor that is unavoidable given the current judging methodology used by the sport. The more experienced the judges the more consistently they can apply perception of the minimal depth requirement across the varied builds of different powerlifters. The number of judges who are experienced enough to minimize the perceptual limitations is, however very limited. They are generally used in National and International level venues. It is a rare luxury for State level Powerlifting meets to have National and International calibur judges on hand.

To minimize the human error as well as the limitations of perception something slightly past the point illustrated in Diagram A is a sound practice for lifters to use. It is NOT required by the rules, NOR by judges, it is simply a safeguard that YOU as the lifter can take to minimize the risk of being subject to human error and perceptive limitations (a safeguard for you to convince the judges). There is no way to avoid the limitations of perception and no guarantee that a volunteer who is sitting in the judges chair is going to be able to gauge borderline or absolute minimal depth squats accurately 100% of the time (this is the subjective aspect of judging that is unavoidable). It is simply not feasible to have judges with that level of experience available for every meet. Judging will be as fair and impartial as possible and judges will call lifts based on the best of their ability to see the performance of the lift. The more you as a lifter can do to convince (show) the judges that you have attained legal depth the greater your success rate will be. It takes very little past the minimal depth for a judge to see legal depth. Meaning a fraction of a second longer and a clear visual of the relation of the two judging points. It does NOT require depth as illustrated in Diagram C, but something slighly past Diagram A. Again, it is not required as the rules state the defining guidelines ...what you obtain is to minimize the human factor within the objective requirements.