In preparation for the powerlifting meeting on Saturday I felt the need to check my squat depth to make sure it was sufficient to count as a competition standard lift. I have previously squatted in front of a mirror and also filmed the process from off center and behind, but neither of these approaches were suitable for confirming I was attaining the correct depth. If the squat depth is too shallow then the lift will not count at the meeting, so this is very important. So, my current approach was to film from the side.
I conducted 5 squats of 102.5 kg and upon watching the playback was happy that squats 1 and 5 were definitely OK, 2 looked OK, but 3 and 4 were very difficult to call. The only way to check for sure was to examine the movie one frame at a time.
Test squat 1
Test squat 2
Test squat 3
Test squat 4
Test squat 5
So, squats 1,2 and 5 look OK, 3 is possibly OK and 4 is questionable. Ideally, judges should not be left with potential margins for error, so I am only really satisfied with squats 1 and 5. It does not seem unreasonable that there should be better focus on the first and last squat, though that is no excuse for a lack of focus in the intervening ones! The serial position effect relates to the tendency of a person to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items worst. The term was coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus through studies he performed on himself, and refers to the finding that recall accuracy varies as a function of an item's position within a study list (from Wikipedia). Although this is a cognitive issue with regard to memory recall, it seems reasonable to expect that there might be a similar effect in relation to a series of repeated actions where the action requires a lot of effort and concentration. Fortunately, each lift in the competition consists of just a single rep (for 3 sets with a reasonable rest period inbetween), so this effect should not be encountered. Nonetheless, it is important to train each rep in each training set to competition standard. So, now that I armed with this new understanding and hypothesis, I will repeat the above test with an increased and concerted focus on all squats, particularly those in the middle of the sequence and report back. I will also apply this knowledge to all training sets from now on. Such self appraisal is a vitally important element of any learning process.