1. THE SETUP
When an athlete addresses the bar and begins their setup you as a coach have an invaluable time frame where you can correct the athlete before he/she even begins to move. The setup is by far the easiest part of the lift to coach and correct. If the athlete begins a lift correctly there is a much higher chance they will finish correctly. This is one of the very few exceptions where multiple cues can be used in unison. This is because all of the problems can be fixed before the bar begins moving. Now let’s review correct positioning in the setup. As is illustrated in these pictures the setup for the clean and the snatch is almost exactly the same. Take a look at these pictures before reviewing proper set up technique and then use them as a reference while reading.
Eyes are straight ahead. Shoulders are over the bar and much higher than the hips. The hips are slightly above the knee. The back is either curved or straight. The shoulder blades are pinched back. The feet are hip width apart. The elbows are pointed out towards the end of the bar. The knuckles are curled down and the arms are straight. The barbell is over the middle of the feet and close to the shins. These are all things you can easily get your athlete to do. If you teach an athlete these correct positions from day one the athlete will develop much better motor patterns. They will develop the correct musculature much quicker, and they will develop more strength in the correct positions. So basically, your athletes will get better faster. Having lifters with great setup positions will help to set you apart as a coach.
2. ADDRESSING MAJOR TECHNICAL ISSUES IN THE FIRST PULL
The pull has long been a focus of American Weightlifting. Many weightlifting programs include the addition of clean pulls, snatch pulls, and different positional variations. Pulls are a crucial training stimulus that is necessary in any program intended to develop strong Olympic lifts. Pulls for the Olympic Lifts are a great teaching tool and transfer very well over to the actual Olympic lifts. As a coach you have a great tool in which to mold great lifters with pulls. This of course is only true if the pulls are performed at the same velocity as the actual lifts. Now let’s discuss proper technique of the pull.
In the first pull of either a snatch or a clean the athlete pushes off of the ground through the middle of the feet. The shoulders and hips should be rising at the same rate. In some cases the shoulders will rise faster than the hips. This typically occurs because when the athlete was in their setup their hips were not low enough. This can be corrected during the setup. In other cases the hips may rise faster than the shoulders. Telling the athlete to” pull from legs” or telling them to “focus on keeping their butt down” will usually fix this problem. Sometimes cuing for this will not work after many lifting sessions and in this case it may be the result of a weak posterior chain (hamstrings, lower back, and glutes). The shoulders should still be over the bar. Also the shoulders and hips are in the same place as they were in the setup.