Here is some stuff which I have learned, in no particular order. All of it applies to me. Some of it may apply to you. Or not. It is what it is, man.
1) You're a whip, not a hammer.
If I have a choice between a former gymnast and a former powerlifter to become a weightlifter, I'm going to choose the gymnast every time. I'm not trying to say strength isn't important - it's HUGELY important. It's just that you have to learn how to use it properly. You have to have position, rhythm, timing, and speed to match. You cannot grind a snatch (that's what she said.) Learn to move with some looseness. Appropriately time the application of force. Like cracking a whip.
Being able to do this, however, requires that you...
2) Trust your strength
Assuming you've done your due diligence - your squats, your back work, your pressing work, etc - you need to trust your back and legs to do their job. If you have done a proper job of getting strong and learning your positions, you aren't going to suddenly become weak. You should be tight and organized, but too much tension will slow you down.
3) High volume snatch, not so much on C&J
This is one which will definitely be very individual. In the past, I've always matched my snatch and C&J volume for the most part. And I finally figured out that it doesn't work. I would guess that this will be more true for heavier athletes than lighter ones. I can handle a ton of snatches (oh yeah) but too much C&J and I just end up lifting light weights with shitty form. And yes, I know this is probably obvious to some of you.
4) Smooth dip, long drive, wider grip
These are three things which have helped my jerk a lot. Widening my grip made a much bigger difference than I expected it to, and focusing on a smooth dip and a long drive, rather than sharp movement, has allowed me to move with much greater consistency. This is actually a cue I used to use a lot, and somehow forgot about. Fortunately my friend Brian reminded me, and it's helping a lot. I have never been particularly fast, so I feel like I'm using smoothness to make up for it.
5) Sometimes you have to stop squatting
That was physically painful to type. And it's not true for most people. But my patellar ligaments give me shit, and I have never had trouble standing up a clean which I racked properly. Literally not once ever. I did my best C&Js when I wasn't doing any squatting other than snatches and cleans, and I was far more consistent. Most people should be squatting heavy all the damn time, but remember that if you're a weightlifter, you don't compete in the squat. If it's keeping you from making lifts, give it a break. You won't get the AIDS, I promise.
6) Sometimes you have to do GPP
Dammit, there's another thing I hate to say. But it's true. I feel better when I do a couple of conditioning sessions a week, and regularly play with some gymnastics movements. It shouldn't crush you; some kettlebell work, medicine ball stuff, etc. If your knees are healthy, I think sprints are great (50m and below, please. You're a power athlete.) Box jumps may be fun to play with. You don't need to over think it, but the extra work capacity can be very helpful, especially for bigger athletes. I'll do something really hard occasionally (like the Prowler,) typically on a Saturday (last training day of the week) and with some partners to make it fun. Strongman stuff is also cool.
7) Make more reps
I think this is one is particularly true if training without a coach, as I am. A little bit less time spent maxing, a little more making lots of beautiful reps. As an athlete training on your own, it might be wise to go from maxing once a week to once every other week, and spend the other days in the 80-90% range. Missing reps with a coach watching you and telling you what's going wrong is different than missing reps on your own. If you've been lifting for a very long time and pretty much know what you're doing right/wrong every time, that's different. If that's not the case, make more reps.
8) Rest more
Duh. Everyone knows this. But athletes are dumb sometimes. I did my best lifting when I trained MTWFSat. Then I decided to train 6x/week. Again, for athletes training with a coach, this can be great. But if you're training on your own, being tired all the time probably isn't going to help you. Pay attention to facts - how many good lifts you're making and how much progress you're making - not your ego, and figure out the optimum training frequency for YOU.
9) Short, Split sessions.
Big thanks to Coach McCauley for this suggestion.
I snatch in the morning and C&J in the afternoon. I allow myself no more than 60 minutes for training the actual lift (usually it's more like 45.) But I get a LOT of work done, especially in the snatch. My snatch session from low blocks on Wednesday looked like this, in 45 minute (numbers in pounds, shut up):
Lots of work, and the rep at 195 was the best of the session, so I stopped on a high note. Wasn't tired at all and felt great going into C&J in the afternoon.
10) How you feel is a lie (until)...
Until what, I'm not sure. For me, it's about 80-85% on the snatch, and about 80% on the clean & jerk. I can go into a session feeling stiff, sore, and tired, and I really have no idea how I'll perform until I get to around those numbers. The percentages may be different for you. The point is, don't go into a session thinking you're defeated before you've even started. Allow yourself to be surprised.
For the record, I'm not talking about injury or sickness here. Just the normal stiff, sore, tired that comes with being a weightlifter.