One of the more common phenomenons in newer weightlifters is jumping forward when catching the weight in both the snatch and the clean. Often the easiest way to fix this is to either draw a line on the ground for the athletes to line their toes up with, or for the braver coach, hold a PVC pipe in front of the bar during a lift.
You don’t need to know WHY a undesirable thing happens in order to fix it. But for many analytical athletes, they like to know the why. In my experience there are three main things that lead to an athlete jumping forward.
Problem Area 1: Not pulling the bar close to you off the floor, leaving a lot of space between the bar and your hips.
Between convincing new lifters not to use their arms during the first and second pull and the common description of arms as ropes attaching the barbell to the body, athletes often have a hard time distinguishing between keeping their arms long and loose, and still using their back to sweep the bar close to them.
During the pull off the ground, this can lead to the bar moving straight up or even swinging away from the body leaving a lot of space between the bar and the hips. In order to make that coveted hip contact, athletes unwittingly jump forward, effectively chasing the bar.
One way to get the athlete to feel lat engagement off the floor: Using a band on the barbell, the coach will hold the band on tension and have the athlete clean or snatch deadlift the bar to their hips against the band tension.
Please don’t do the whole lift like this, though.
Problem Area 2: After making contact with the bar, athletes relax their back and the bar loops away from them.
In an effort to get under the bar as quickly as possible, after contact and full extension many athletes will lose all muscle tension and drop under the weight. Even the mildest of brush off the hips can cause the bar to drift forward during the “Third Pull” and if the athlete is not actively guiding the bar, they will have to jump forward to receive it.
So after full extension and contact/ brush with the hips, you still want to exert force on the bar. Only, instead of trying to pull up on it, you’re directing the path straight up using lat tension while actively pulling yourself under the bar and into the receiving position.
A couple good drills for this include high hang lifts and snatch “pull unders” from high blocks. Have Coach Jay demo this one for you, he’s really good at it.
Problem Area C: Shifting weight to the toes too early, causing the overall trajectory of the bar path to be forward.
Most coaches and trainers know this: ask an untrained individual to squat and they’re likely to raise up on their toes as they try to sink straight down.
While coaching and repetition will help athletes balance better in the middle of the foot, once speed is added to a movement, people may revert to old habits and start shifting towards the toes during the pull. Shifting to the toes early in the pull means the entire system, body plus barbell, moves forward and the overall trajectory can cause a forward jump when the athlete needs to land in a balanced, midfoot position.
As with grooving any movement, slow it down and really take note of what is happening during your pulls. Pause one inch off the ground, at the knee, at the hip. Do you feel your full foot pressing into the floor at each position? Do it again. And again. And again…
This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Just simply the most common causes I’ve seen since I started coaching the lifts. There are as many cues, fixes, and drill combinations as there are athletes in this sport.
If you haven’t already, come by SPS and have one of our coaches at a look. I guarantee you’ll get a fresh perspective.