Transitioning to Power Cleans for High School Athletes in 4 simple Steps
All of my athletes become very efficient at performing the Olympic
lifts from the hang position, and I love that. This comes from a lot of
practice but also from a very specific and well refined process for
teaching and progressing the lifts in the hang position
While I rarely ask my athletes to do Olympic lifts from the floor, I
don’t however work in a vacuum and in many cases my high school
athletes are training with their high school as well. This
means that they are asked to do power cleans at the high school level.
Power cleans must travel a large distance from the floor to the
shoulder level and due to this long bar path there is room for a great
amount of variability in the bar path. A lot of times this
variability manifests itself by very apparent changes in the catch
position, but the root cause started at the floor.
The largest variable that young athletes encounter is in their starting
position and just as we do with the hang clean, we have a specific way
to teach the proper starting position. As with any teaching
progression, it is important to build the movement off of patterns that
the athlete is already comfortable completing.
To get into the proper starting position we have the high school athletes
start in a standing position.
Cover your laces, brace your core
Getting the proper distance from the bar is a big part to getting the
in the correct starting position. Often times athletes will roll
the bar around on the floor before the lift to “Amp” themselves
up. We want to eliminate this.
Have the athlete approach the bar to the point that the bow on their
shoelaces is covered from their viewpoint. From your viewpoint as
a coach this will mean that the bar is directly over their mid-foot.
This distance, is much closer to the bar than most athletes start and
initially may feel slightly uncomfortable to athletes. This position is
still far enough from the bar that it will allow the knees to be just
slightly forward at the bottom position
RDL to your knees
The next step for athletes and the first step in moving towards the bar
is to have the athlete make an RDL movement to the knee. Slightly
unlock the knees and then push the hips backwards. This gets the hips
back and away from the bar. This position should look identical
to a hang clean above the knee position. The core should remain
braced and any movement in the lumbar spine should be avoided.
Squat to the bar
The next step will apply another fundamental that all athletes should
be familiar with. From the above knee position, the move should
transition from an RDL to a squat. Rather than pushing the hips back
anymore, the hips must descend straight to the ground. By following an
RDL (Hip Hinge) movement with a squat (knee dominant) the athlete will
be able to keep their shins very close to vertical, but still have the
power of the quadriceps to lean on in their initial movement off the
Once in the squat position the athlete should be able to comfortably
grip the bar in their normal clean or snatch grip. The athlete
should apply the hook grip to the bar and continue to brace the core.
Back Flat, knees back
Now in contact with the bar, the athlete will need to make a directed
move to bring the bar off the ground. To do that the athlete
should be directed to drive through their heels and push their knees
back. The knees back cue should be taken until the bar clears
knee height, at this point the athlete should have their knees slightly
unlocked (but not at full extension).
A common problem with the pull off the floor is a forward motion
of the bar to clear the knees, this alters the straight bar path that
athletes should achieve. By pushing the knees back we can eliminate
that problem completely.
The athlete will find themselves in a very familiar position once the
bar passes their knees: the hang clean/snatch start position.
Once comfortable with this 4 part movement pattern the athlete should
work to speed up the process while still hitting each individual
While hang Olympic lifts should be a staple of the your training
program, there are times that High School Athletes will be required to perform
power cleans/snatches. As coaches guiding their training, it is our job
to equip them with the tools necessary to do those lifts to the best of
This 4 step process to get to the bar while on the floor and into the
proper start position will ensure that your athletes are always taking
their best attempt possible on the bar.