Post by Coach George Daicoff:
We hear some of the common cues in the gym regularly such as “finish the pull”, “keep the bar close”, etc. Here is a list of 5 tips that are important for improving your performance in the snatch and clean and jerk that are not as commonly drilled.
It is well known that the snatch and clean and jerk are very technical in nature. The fundamentals of weightlifting include learning the positions as you progress through the lifts. Once you have learned the positions, you must become consistent with hitting the positions. The old saying goes “Practice Makes Perfect”. Grab a PVC, weighted PVC or light barbell and work through progressions – couple favorites are the Burgener Warm-Up and Pendlay progressions. Come into class a few minutes early or stay a few minutes after as these make for good additional warm-ups or cool-downs.
Pendlay (make sure to also check out steps 2 & 3)
2. Know when to be Patient
All too often a novice lifter will rush when pulling the bar from the floor in the snatch and clean to the point where they are not in a good position once the bar clears the knees. Commonly, the hips will be elevated and weight in the foot will shift toward the toes to name a couple. The purpose of the first pull from the floor to the knee is to set the lifter and bar in an advantageous position where the lifter can generate the most power as they progress into the second pull into the hip. – In general, hips should be down to maintain the back angle as the bar is lifted from the floor to the knee, weight in the heels, knees back and tension in the hamstrings. Yes, we want to accelerate the bar from the floor through the first and second pulls, however, the rate needs to be limited to where a good position at the knees is obtained.
3. Know when to be Aggressive
Once the bar has cleared the knees, the weight is in the heels and tension has built in the hamstrings, the lifter will want to generate as much force as possible by driving through the heels and violently extending the hips. Once the bar has brushed the pockets, the lifter will be in a race to pull oneself under the bar and catch overhead (snatch) or in the front rack (clean). If the key positions can be consistently met, the lifter should strive to be more aggressive and faster in these portions of the lifts.
It is no secret that the Olympic lifts require full range of motion and mobility in almost all areas of the body in order to complete efficiently. It is said that the overhead squat (major component of the snatch) is an excellent tool in exposing any areas that need attention. Three main areas to focus on in general for the Olympic lifts would be the ankles, hips and upper back/shoulders. Determine your needs and mobilize prior to lifting.
Favorite for each:
Ankle – 1st part
5. Be Mindful of Technique during Conditioning
Fatigue during metabolic conditioning will tend to affect your technique of the Olympic lifts. Common faults seen when technique is breaking down due to fatigue are pulling from the ground without bending at the knees, pulling with a rounded back and pressing out snatches and jerks. Multiple repetitions at lighter weight (common in conditioning) with compromised form will build and solidify bad habits that will carryover into your lifts for strength work. Take a few extra breaths or scale the weight in conditioning so that you can complete the lifts with your back locked in and catching the weight locked out.