ALL YOU NEED IS A BROOMSTICK
by Coach Kelly
No, no it’s not Halloween. I don’t mean a witch’s broomstick, although I guess that would work.
What I’m talking about is a singular tool that you can use to improve your Olympic lifts… we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, the Olympic lifts consist of the snatch, the clean and the jerk. The snatch is the one that goes from ground to overhead in a single fluid movement with a wide grip. The clean is the one that goes from ground to shoulder with a narrower grip. The jerk is the one that goes from shoulder to overhead, usually with your feet split apart. Everyone still with me?
Second, why can’t I just power clean or power snatch? When you catch a snatch or clean in a power position, it means not in a full squat. Snatch or clean implies catching in a squat. Is it easier to power clean/snatch? Maybe. If it’s a light weight or your mobility is not great, yeah. If you’re really going for max amounts of weight though, you want to receive the bar in a squat because you won’t have to pull the bar as high to get under it.
Third, hook grip – use it. This is placing your thumb around the bar and fingers around thumb. This helps for a faster turnover of the bar to get to its finishing position and keeps the bar more secure. It’s uncomfortable, I know. I resisted for years. But you need to do it. Start now.
Fourth, there are three basic positions for the snatch and clean. We drill them in class.
Position 1 (dip in your knees, bar at waist)
Position 2 (hinge forward at your hips til bar reaches your knee, no further bend in knees)
Position 3 (close your knees til bar is mid shin/plates resting on floor)
The biggest difference in the snatch/clean is starting position (where your hips are in position 3 – slightly higher for snatch), your grip (wider for snatch) and receiving position (overhead for snatch, shoulders for clean).
The single most important thing you can do to get better at Olympic lifts are to practice. Every single day. This is where the broomstick comes in.
Grab your broomstick, get your hook grip set, and drill positions over and over and over until they become muscle memory. You want your lifts to be fast and fluid. You don’t want to be thinking about grip, footwork, positions, transitions, pulls, timing, and so on during your lift. You want to take a deep breath and let your body take over.
I hope this helps simplify the lifts for some of you and gives you some simple ways to get better at them. They can be frustrating but there is nothing more awesome than PRing a lift and showing that barbell who’s boss!
What you don’t want to do is continually put in time and effort practicing and solidifying the WRONG way to move the barbell. Have a coach watch you. I am always happy to do skill sessions with you. We can perfect your technique, help you get comfortable dropping under the bar and help you come to love the barbell as much as I do.
Okay so maybe you do need a little more than a broomstick, but it’s a great way to improve your Olympic lifts without a lot of investment, other than your time.