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Snatch & Clean the Same

In my opinion, the Snatch and Clean should be treated the same, with of course a different grip. The mechanics and geometry used to raise the bar (regardless of height) should be similar during both lifts.

During the Snatch, athletes believe the bar should be raised as far as possible overhead before attempting to 'get under the bar' - elite athletes can actually elevate the bar to the same height as their Clean.
The truth is, pulling the bar far enough to drop under it will suffice. This concept makes the movement simpler and helps coaches develop beginner and intermediate lifters.

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Smooth Dip & Drive

Athletes who lock their knees prior to the Jerk may suffer from a stuttered ‘dip & drive’, primarily caused by a lag in quad tension. A lag in quad tension can also lead to contact issues with the bar, causing it to bounce on the shoulders during the attempt.
Coaches should cue their athletes to unlock their knees slightly. Unlocking the knees places tension on the quads making the movement smoother creating a controlled jerk. It is possible to maintain a straight upright stance while keeping the knees slightly unlocked.

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Which style of Jerk to commit to?

Deciding which type of Jerk to commit to isn't as difficult as people might think. By definition, all Jerks (Split, Push, Power or Squat) require a dip of the hips/leg, a drive upward, and a re-dip or "catch." As such, the question that must be solved is which of the styles can the athlete get the lowest while maintaining strong shoulders. In the end, the lower the athlete can receive the barbell (during heavy loads) while remaining strong the more effective they'll be. So, figure this out and you'll easily figure out which of the 4 styles of Jerks fit your athlete.

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Shifting the Feet

Is it necessary to make the loud sound of the feet when we lift? No, it is not necessary. Many athletes don't move their feet at all, and they do quite well. However, I do believe in shifting the feet; I teach a relatively narrow start (jumping stance) into a wider catch (squat stance). I encourage athletes to make the loud crack of the feet to promote foot balance and stability, but NOT because it sounds cool.
In my opinion, the athletes must land flat-footed to avoid a wobbly catch. I realize that a beginner trying to make the loud sound puts the them at a risk of a large hop, instead of a low shift. An athlete jumping too high is unfavorable and there is a way to make the sound without the unecessary airtime. I have my athletes SHIFT their feet, not JUMP their feet. To correct this error, cue athletes to shift their feet as they pull themselves under, rather than shifting their feet as they extend.

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Hitting the Knees

The problem isn't a major issue but can cause a nuisance. The primary reason this happens is due to the athlete rocking back too soon and/or pulling the shoulders back behind the bar before it has passed the knees. Instead, the lifter should be patient and keep the shoulders in place (whether directly above the bar or in front) for a longer period of time until the bar has passed the knees. Remaining patient like this video shows also helps the athlete stay in a "hang" position anyway, which is strong stance for many.

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Triple Extension

Anyone who has followed me long enough knows I am big on the concept of triple extending or as I like to tell my athletes, staying vertical with the barbell… this video is a great example of it.
Bar control is priority #1 in Olympic Weightlifting. It is important to have explosive hips and speed, but without bar control the athlete will experience a great deal of difficulty executing an effective lift.
In my opinion, triple extending provides easier control of the bar.

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Split Position Press

I prescribe these Split Position Strict Presses (aka Split Presses) often for my athletes. I have actually heard several different names for this movement over the years. I have mentioned this exercise before as I feel it is a great drill to develop comfort in the Split Position. What's important is that it is less about the weight on the bar and more about the stability of the stance. If you load up the bar with too much weight, the athlete will end up changing their stance during flexion just to accommodate the load…this defeats the purpose.

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Sequence of Pulling Exercises

There is a specific sequence that should be performed when doing Pulling movements - Clean Pulls, Snatch Pulls, or their High Pull variations. I teach my athletes to (a) get the bar into Power Position, (b) extend the legs with a follow through on to their toes, then (c) quick shrug at the end. The shrugging movement is the last thing they do and it is performed as quickly as possible…not slow and elongated.

It is possible to perform this sequence rhythmically, without hesitation…while keeping the bar moving smoothly. When done correctly, the bar will actually accelerate instead of slowing and segmenting. Individuals who perform Pulls incorrectly are out of sequence, most often shrugging far too soon. 

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Dynamic Start

Many of my posts are geared towards athletes (beginners/intermediates) and coaches. This post however is a bit more advanced.
When we first learn Olympic Weightlifting we are taught a static start. A static start is when we find a comfortable start position, pause, and then lift. Once an athlete has achieved a certain amount of proficiency, I typically introduce the dynamic start. A dynamic start is similar to a running-start; its purpose is to gain an extra advantage over the bar. 

Although this technique is not for everyone, I introduce it when I feel the individual is ready to try it. In a dynamic start, the athlete creates a stretching-reflex, quick tension, or pre-loading movement prior to lifting. This action must return the athlete to his/her original start position…and without hesitation, lift the bar. The key components are:

1. Pre-loading
2. Swift movement
3. No hesitation
4. Maintain bar path

When learning the dynamic start, it is easy to disturb the lift-off of the bar. It is important that coaches and athletes practice the correct principles without interfering with the lift itself. If the athlete is not comfortable with the movement, return him/her to their original static start.

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Active Shoulders

I have often talked about where I think the bar should be held in the overhead position, but I have not mentioned how it should be held. By that I mean the debate of ‘active shoulders (for the Snatch and/or Jerk). I used this concept for my athletes early in my coaching career as it was taught to me as a young lifter. However, my philosophy changed a few years ago. I now use a different approach to promote a strong, stable overhead position. I am not suggesting that ‘active shoulders’ is a poor tactic by any means… it is a common concept amongst coaches. However, I have discovered a variant found to be so useful that I have incorporated it into my training philosophy.  This new discovery is certainly different than shrugging upwards, as "active shoulders" would dictate…

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Getting Your Head Through

This particular tip describes why coaches use the ‘get your head through’ or ‘head through a window’ cue. This cue is used to promote better placement of the bar in the overhead position which generates a stronger position. Is this cute enough, no… it is only a small piece of the puzzle. The primary responsibility of this cue is the directional effort of the body. Placing the ‘head through’ is an amazing cue that I use personally in my training.

 

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Contacting the Hips

Should the bar hit the same location on the body in both the Snatch and Clean (at least for those who contact at all)? I say no. In the Power Position, athletes often try to strike the bar in the exact spot with both lifts and sometimes struggle to do so -often bending the arms early in Clean to accomplish it. As long as the bar is within a certain range, it is good to go. The optimal range is between the waist line, and top of the quadriceps, which encompasses the glutes, hips, and hip flexors. If the athlete is outside this area, most often too low (mid-quadricep), it would be a cause of concern. This video explains the idea and the full description.



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Hitting the chin on the Jerk

Hitting our chin with the barbell during the Jerk is not fun and is something we all try to avoid. How we go about avoiding it is important. This video provides a simple trick I use with my athletes to clear the path of the bar without jeopardizing technique. The worst thing the athlete can do is whip his/her head back in an attempt to avoid the chin. I instruct the athlete to rotate the chin up (looks like nose up) slightly. Elevating the chin clears the path of the bar before the Jerk is even attempted, and allows the athlete to drift onto the heels a little better...which is the preferred way to execute the Jerk.

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