Coach’s Corner

Patience Past the Knee

Olympic weightlifting is tough because it is bio-mechanically complex.
It requires good understanding of some fundamental movements and
their mechanical carry-over:  Deadlift, Front Squat, Back Squat,
Overhead Squat, and Jerk.  If we were to break down both the Snatch and
the Clean and Jerk, we would see key positions we need to hit.  For
people who like to unify athletic disciplines, we’re thinking about
key “poses” that we want to ideally hit when performing the Olympic
lifts.  This brings me to the conceptual disparity people have when
trying to put all the movements together for the first time.

Let’s assume for a minute that you understand the aforementioned
foundational movements that carry over to the Snatch and Clean and
Jerk.  We know that we set up in a deadlift-like setup, then we
eventually transition into the bottom of an overhead squat or front
squat, and for the Clean and Jerk, we eventually end up in an overhead
position.  But take a step back.  What is happening between the
deadlift and the overhead squat or the front squat??  How do we _GET

When I see people who are newer to the Oly lifts, they frequently
exhibit a concurrent display of trepidation mixed with impatience.
They hesitate too much on the first pull (think: deadlift), but they
are in such a rush to explode and get to the squat that they initiate
the second pull (think: jump or violent hip extension) before the bar
gets past the knees.  Your coaches get it.  We have been there, too.
That’s why I’m talking about it.

Most people who are learning both lifts learn to position the bar at
the “pockets”, as Sage and Coach Burgener use.  To simplify the
explanation here and not talk about nuances, we’re effectively trying
to position the bar as close to the hip crease as possible while
loading the hips up in preparation to explosively open the hips.
After that we want to generate upward force by violently extending the
hips and then re-closing them as we pull ourselves down into the squat
for the respective movement.  For those who can visualize this
happening, this means the first pull must be done in a controlled
manner.  The bar will go well past the knees.  And, more importantly,
it requires PATIENCE.

For those that saw the above wall of text and thought to yourself,
“TL;DR”, then here are some cues to think of as you hit each key

1.  Setup:  Tight back, no bar slack.
2.  First Pull:  Nice and controlled.  Not too fast, not too slow.
Target:  POCKETS!
4.  Third Pull:  Pull under bar into squat FAST.
5.  Recovery:  Stand up with weight like it’s no big deal.


-Mike Hom


2 responses to “Coach’s Corner

  • Hugh

    That’s some good stuff.

  • Jacob Tsypkin

    Great post Mike.

    This video shows a great example of what Mike is talking about:

    Watch as Jon’s knees move back off the floor, and the bar follows. His chest stays over the bar for MUCH longer than most amateur lifters – when the bar is just below the knee, is the point when your shoulders should be furthest ahead of it.

    Some great drills to help teach this:
    1) Pause snatch. As you come off the floor, sweep the bar in. Pause when it is JUST below your kneecaps. Make sure a) you’re in your heels, b) your knees are back and c) your chest is over the bar. Pause here for 2 mississippi. Restart the upward movement by PUSHING with the thighs – RESIST THE URGE TO INITIATE BY LIFTING THE CHEST FROM THE PAUSED POSITION! STAY OVER THE BAR! Finish the lift by bringing the hips through, hard – rattle that bar!

    2) Snatch + hang snatch with pause. Similar to the pause snatch. The first rep is a normal snatch from the floor. The second rep is a hang snatch (just below the knee.) For this drill, you want to stop the bar for a second, but you don’t necessarily need the full 2 second pause like in the pause snatch.

    3) Don McCauley’s “Rock And Roll” – Learn to think with your hips!:

    4) Don McCauley’s “Sweep The Olympic Lifts” – if the knees/bar aren’t back off the floor, they won’t be back when you approach the second pull:

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