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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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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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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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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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Textbook C & J

Here is what I call a Textbook C+J. I am not suggesting it is a “perfect” lift, there is no such thing. I feel a “perfect” lift is relative to the individual athlete. We are all just a bit different. One size does NOT fit all. So long as a person’s technique meets my 3-point criteria; safe, efficient, and comfortable, then it is a good lift. This video shows an athlete I train whose technique I felt was very “textbook”, in that it just happens to correlate with many books, articles, and curriculum of various certification courses. You will notice how I breakdown all the positions as she lifts

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Meeting the Bar, avoiding the Crash

Do you or your athletes experience a crash of the barbell during heavy Cleans? In order to avoid the excessive smashing on the shoulders, coaches need to teach their athletes how to “meet the bar.” The concept of meeting the bar was introduced to me by my first Developmental Coach when I was a young boy growing up in the sport. He taught me to “catch high and ride low” and it is exactly how I teach my athletes now.
 

As all things on earth, what goes up must come down. The bar is no different so athletes must “catch” the bar when it has reached the top of its trajectory (path). The location of the bar when it has reached its full height will determine where the athlete should receive the bar. It does not matter how high or low, or how heavy the bar is.
 

The worst thing an athlete can do is drop to the bottom and wait for the bar. The crash of the barbell occurs when the athlete separates him/herself from the bar. It is not only ineffective but unsafe. With time and training, the idea of smoothly meeting the bar can be accomplished even at 1RM. Are there drills that can help an athlete learn how to meet the bar? Sure, perhaps some Hang position lifts would work. In the end, it’s an effort that must be made on the part of the athlete. No tricks, no special tactics, just work on it. It’s a matter of body awareness.

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