By: Steve Titus
The OLY lifts are all about the hips. I don’t care if you are a “catapult” guy, a “jump and shrugger” or a Junior College “reverse curl” cleaner, you know how important the hips are to the lifts. (Ok, maybe not the last group.)
The speed with which the hips “open” then “close” are directly correlated to the level of performance of the clean and the snatch. The problem is, for most people learning these movements later in life, it is a hard concept to grasp. Most people over extend the hips, and take forever to catch it. Or they don’t extend at all and drop under the bar way too fast. Which looks really cool with lighter weights, but man they get heavy fast don’t they?
There are some positions/drills with the barbell to overcome this: above the knees, dead hangs, block work, even removing the hook grip. But for some athletes this does not resonate. Well then, let me introduce you the wall ball “2 for 1’s”.
Wall balls are miserable. I know it. You know it. Everyone that has done them knows it. Sadly these are worse. Grab a ball grab a target and lets get started.
Squat down below parallel and throw ball at said target. Is everyone with me so far? Now it gets fun. As soon as the ball leaves your hands, squat down below parallel, stand up and catch it. Before it hits you in the face. You may actually hit yourself in the face. My humblest apologies, but sometime a price has to be paid for proficient Oly lifting. The hip action is almost identical to the clean.
If you cannot do the movement as described, no problem. Execute them the same, only shorten up the depth of the second sit while the ball is in the air. This drill is more about rapidly firing the hips than it is about establishing full depth. 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps while learning are more than enough. They are good to do as a warm up before performing the lifts. For those of us (sadly like myself) who still struggle to grasp this, executing them between sets may help. You should feel a little better sense of rhythm with the barbell.
As much as wall balls sound like torture they are not half bad after 2 for 1’s. I mean, after taking a few 20# balls to the face, Karen may actually become fun (but 13.3 will still be stupid).
Steve Titus, affectionately (or pejoratively depending on the strength work that day) called “Coach Steve” is the Olympic Lifting coach here at CFB, and has had a large hand in the development of the strength programs here. He has been involved in the sport of Olympic lifting for about 13 years now, 10 of them as a coach. He has coached at National level competitions, and has had the pleasure of working with national medalists. Much of his experience has been with athletes of various sports using the Oly lifts to improve their performance. His intent with writing in regards to the “O lifts” is to try to avoid in depth analysis of technique, and try to stick to topics that may actually have more of an impact on your daily training.
If anyone has specific questions that they would like answered, feel free to e mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.