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Stop Jumping Forwards
I am writing this on the eve of the Mash Barbell Picnic, so I have the barbell on my brain. We still have a lot of work to do, but I am super excited to see all of you. Today I want to discuss the common mistake that a lot of rookie weightlifters make, and that is jumping forwards during the snatch and clean. The goal of the pull is a massive vertical drive. In a perfect world the lifter will go straight up and straight down. However a slight jump backwards is acceptable as long as the bar goes with the lifter.
The one thing that isn’t acceptable is jumping forwards. That’s the result of a bad bar path and loss of vertical drive. Beginning the second pull too soon, going to the toes, and pushing the hips forwards are the cause of this nasty little movement pattern. If someone’s knee hits the floor, normally this is also the result of this movement pattern.
I believe that this happens from a wrong perception of what’s really going on. Sometimes a new lifter will watch an advanced lifter, and it appears that they are banging their hips into the bar. Just typing the words “banging their hips” makes me cringe in disgust. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Veteran lifters meet the hips with the bar in the middle giving the bar lift. There is never a push out. It is like an upper cutting motion. This goes for the snatch and the clean. With the snatch the barbell will meet the body at the crease of the hip. With the clean the bar will meet the body somewhere from the upper thigh to the hip. When the bar meets the body, the knees will be bent 4-6 inches, which creates the power position. See pic for perfection:
After the power position is established, the athlete simply extends the knees and hips driving the barbell upwards. There is never a push forwards. So how does one fix the problem?
Here are 3 ways that might help:
1. Think “Long Legs”- Of course I stole this from Don McCauley. I pretty much just regurgitate a lot of the things that he teaches me. If people just stay with that first pull a little longer with the shoulders over the bar, this problem will correct itself. If the athlete will simply drive their legs through the floor completely, once again this problem won’t happen. Not only that, the athlete will lift more weight.
2. Draw a line in front of the toes- Now this is one trick that I came up with all by myself. However I am sure that Don and a lot of other coaches have used it before me. I like to draw a line in front of a lifter, and I tell them not to cross the line. Once they look at the line, a subconscious line is drawn in the brain. All the lifter thinks about is not crossing the line, and that subconscious thought will actually change their mechanics for them. I like to use little coaching tricks like this to fix athlete’s technique more so than a lot of verbal cues. The sport of weightlifting is too fast for a lifter to change multiple things about their movement pattern. If I can turn their brain off and get the same effect, then that’s what I am going to do.
Coach Spenser Arnold and I both agree that it’s more practical to change a lifter’s technique with exercises versus multiple verbal cues. I will watch coaches throw out verbal cue after verbal cue in the back room at Nationals. I know right away that the coach is either a rookie coach or a terrible one. Any athlete that has competed on the National stage knows that simple is better during a major competition. You are not going to change a movement pattern at the Nationals.
3. The McCauley Platform- Coach McCauley likes to use a small plywood platform to teach athletes proper technique. If an athlete is beginning the second pull too soon, he will have them hang his toes off the platform. This causes them to keep their weight towards the back of their foot. That forces them to continue driving with their whole foot during the pull. I watched him put several athletes on that platform taking them from a 10th place in the Nationals to battling for Gold.
Once again the platform fixed the technique without a lot of verbal cues. Coach McCauley would simply put them on the platform, give maybe one verbal cue, and then he allowed the platform to do the magic. If you are jumping forwards, try it out.
I hope that these coaching points help you or your athletes fix the pull. Helping other athletes and coaches is a major goal of our entire organization. Our goal is for the entire weightlifting community to bond together to make our beloved sport better. It’s not about one individual coach, athlete, or club. It’s all about Team USA.
If any of you have some time this weekend, we would love to have you come out on the farm and hang out with us during the Mash Barbell Picnic. I want you all to come out, watch some lifting, and hang out with the entire team. Coach McCauley and I will be there coaching, teaching, and telling old stories. Come on out!
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