Olympic lifting is the most interesting strength/lifting sport.

Top athletes in the sport spend years perfecting their technique, making small improvements and sometimes not moving up in weight for months or longer as they approach their prime.

It’s also one of the most borrowed from sports when it comes to improving an athlete’s performance for another sport. 

I won’t say something lame “oh you wouldn’t train for basketball by practicing soccer!” because that makes no sense—olympic lifting absolutely can be productive for improving strength and explosive power, but there are a few key problems with this.

Most athletes don’t have the time, resources, or care to learn the lifts.

We’re talking about learning an entire sport just to get better explosive power.  With how advanced sports are becoming, athletes need the biggest bang for their buck in the gym.  You can teach jumps, throws, and kettlbell/dumbbell movements much faster than the olympic lifts.  They will progress through them faster, and can move on to getting better at other things, like their actual sport(s).

Athletes start out too weak and unstable…

Most athletes can’t squat bodyweight or do a couple good pullups.  These athletes need to focus on increasing strength, flexibility, technique, and developing musculature before learning the olympic lifts.  Their time would be better served progressing to a barbell (front) squat, TB or barbell deadlift, pullups, chin ups, and pressing.

They can simultaneously work their explosive power pairing these movements with jumping variations and medicine ball throws.

…And then become too advanced for olympic lifting to be that beneficial

By the time these basics are mastered, an athlete should be advanced to the point where the most beneficial thing for them to do is practice their sport.  The time spent in the gym should be the minimum amount to maintain or bring up any deficiencies.

I don’t hate olympic lifting. In fact, I love it.  I’ve been learning the lifts for two years, have studied under several coaches, been to olympic lifting seminars, and I am just now getting good enough to be pretty bad at these lifts.  I look at athletes who are still figuring out the squat or the deadlift technique, and can’t help but wonder what their Olympic lifting form would look like.   It’s best to get stronger through the basics, get more explosive through sprints, jumps, and throws, and get back to practicing your sport.