The Olympic Lift Starting Position
The setup and first pull of the Snatch and the Clean is one of the most important aspects of the lifts to master. If you’re sloppy off the ground, chances are things are going to go horribly wrong throughout the rest of the lifts. The athlete will likely overcome this if the loads are well below max. However; these flaws get exposed during heavier lifts.
The most important thing to understand about the first pull is that the sole purpose of this component of the lift is to achieve perfect positioning for the second pull. The second pull is where the knees re-bend and the athlete begins the aggressive hip extension that creates the upward momentum of the barbell.
Some key things to remember for the starting position (these will apply to the clean and the snatch)…
1. Barbell should be over the base of the toes (balls of the feet)
2. Arms should be perpendicular to the floor when viewed from the side as in the photo below.
3. Depth of the hips will vary between the clean and the snatch and will also vary based on the build of the athlete. However; the key thing to remember is that the hip position should enable 1 and 2 from above. In other words, if the hips are too high, the athlete will be leaning too far over the bar with the arms not perpendicular to the floor. Too low and the barbell will be over the ankles, not the balls of the feet.
4. Last, the knees should be flared out. This enables the athlete to have his or her hips closer to the bar and achieve a more upright angle of the torso.
The first pull should begin by “pushing the ground away” through the feet while maintaining a constant back angle. This part of the lift should NOT be quick and aggressive. It should be slow and controlled. Think about sweeping the bar into the body by activating your lats. Make sure that barbell is in contact with or extremely close to your mid-thigh before beginning the aggressive “jump” of the second pull. Maintaining that close proximity will allow you to transfer force through your center of balance in the mid-foot vs. through your toes.