Archive for “Right Start” Tag

Selecting the Right Starting Position for Olympic Lifts (Part 2)

 

Olympic Lifts and Foundatations

Young Athlete hang position olympic lifts

 

By Wil Fleming

 

Coaches everywhere, and a great percentage of coaches at that, choose to use some type of Olympic lifts in their training of athletes. Typically this Olympic lift is a power clean, starting from the floor. While this is appropriate for plenty of athletes, there are multiple variations in the starting position, that it can be hard to determine which is the right place to start.

 

In Part 1 I discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the floor start position and the block start position. In Part 2 you will learn about 2 of the more popular hang start positions.

 

So lets take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the Olympic lifts variations in start position.

 

Hang Start Position (High Thigh)

 

The hang position with the bar on the high thigh is a very popular way to start for both athletes and in training for competition weightlifters. This position is actually the one that is taught in many certification courses as a great way to train beginners on the lifts.

 

The start position is usually ½ way or more up to the top of the thigh but below the hip crease. The start position is nearly at the finish of the 2nd pull and will lead to a very quick and explosive lift.

 

Pros: This start position is excellent for training athletes to become more proficient at the Olympic lifts. The start position is relatively easy to attain because the counter movement is short which makes it hard to miss. Due to the high nature of the start position the speed of the lift is very quick making coaching cues simple, (“explode”, “Drive” etc,). As a technique tool it reinforces the 2nd pull and even assists in making the athlete more efficient at the 3rd pull, more so than any other start position for the Olympic lifts.

 

Cons: This is a great place to start. In my experience though many athletes have a difficult time generating much power from this start position early on. Technical difficulties for novice athletes from this position are usually things like, jerking their head back from the start, or over scooping the knees forward to initiate the movement. The correct start position is fairly quad dominant and doesn’t rely as much on the athlete’s ability to extend the hips as other hang start positions. As with other hang start positions multiple reps are difficult on the grip (not that big of a con, but still needs to be mentioned).

 

Hang Start Position (Above Knee)

 

This is a common position to see athletes do cleans and snatches. In fact, this is the primary position from which I teach my athletes how to clean or snatch. The start position is directly above the knee cap (or 3-4 inches above in the snatch).

 

Pros: This start position is easy to attain for most athletes, it mimics the pattern that they will go through when you ask them to jump as high as possible. The easy to attain start position and similarity to other athletic movement means that athletes will have early success with the lift. In terms of training this usually means that the athlete will be able to lift more weight, correctly, and sooner than with other positions. One big positive with this lift is that athletes are made to assume a more hip dominant position to start, training the posterior chain more effectively than hang start positions higher on the thigh.

 

Cons: Because the position is lower on the thigh, athletes that are extremely quad dominant in their movements have difficulty getting to the start position. Often times they will try to squat, or knee bend their way to the start. Athletes that lack lumbar and core stability will try to achieve the start position through a back bend. The longer counter movement actually makes grip even more of an issue than some shorter hang start positions.

 

Many pros and cons lists end up with a verdict, but with the Olympic lifts I cannot form one. All of the lifts have benefits and drawbacks, and some more so than others. Take the considerations in the last two articles to mind when training with the lifts and test each of them out for yourself and those athletes that are ready.

 

olymic lifts young athletes

 

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Selecting the Right Starting Position for Olympic Lifts (Part 1)

 

Athletes Options For Olympic Lifts

 

By Wil Fleming

 

Coaches everywhere, and a great percentage of coaches at that, choose to use some type of Olympic lift in their training of athletes. Typically this Olympic lift is a power clean, starting from the floor. While this is appropriate for plenty of athletes, there are multiple variations in the starting position, that it can be hard to determine which is the right place to start.

 

So lets take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the variations in start position.

 

Floor Start Position

 

This is the typical start position and the one used in weightlifting competitions. This position is the one that as coaches we see high school athletes using most often in their high school training program.

 

In this position the athlete starts with the bar at rest on the floor, and the bar should be close (~1-2 inches) from the shins. Athletes starting in this position should slowly, and under control lift the from the floor, ultimately passing the knees.

 

Pros: This position is the position from which the most weight has ever been cleaned or snatched, has been lifted. This is due to the momentum gained from the correct pull off the floor. Using the floor start position requires the athlete to increase hip range of motion due to the low starting position.

 

Cons: This position requires great hip mobility, and therefore, if an athlete is lacking in hip mobility they will typically gain this lower start position through an increase in lumbar flexion. Lumbar flexion with loads in front of the spine have been attributed to greater shear forces on the spine and a corresponding higher incidence of back injury. The typical floor start position also requires athletes to move the bar by the knees. This area of movement is one that requires great technique and for many athletes means that their technical problems occur in this area. More lifts are missed due to the first pull moving around the knee than in any other area of the lift. Poor lifts will have an S pull where the bar will move forward to travel pass the knee.

 

Block Start Position

 

The block start position is used often in the technical training of competition weightlifters.

 

The actual start position can be adjusted in height to meet the goals of the training session, but typically the athlete will start from a static stance somewhere above the knee.

 

Pros: Block starts are a great teaching tool. Coaches can specify the exact starting position that the athlete must achieve. This position is usually close to the 2nd pull (the rapid acceleration of the bar), and requires very little thought from the athlete once the bar is in place. Cueing the pull from a block position is fairly easy for the coach, typically aggressiveness and explosiveness are the only thing needed. The block start position is great for starting strength, no momentum is used and the stretch shortening cycle is eliminated. Starting strength is great quality to develop for nearly any athlete.

 

Cons: Situating the athlete in the correct start position can be hard for the uninitiated coach, differing starting heights require differing positions that are sometimes very dissimilar. Blocks can also be expensive to purchase or difficult to assemble, and therefore many weight rooms or facilities do not allow for the possibility of coaching athletes from a block starting position.

 

There are even more possibilities for Olympic lift start positions stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about 2 of my favorite start positions for young athletes.

 

 

olymic lifts young athletes
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