Back 2 Basics: Defining Positions for the Olympic Lifts (Snatch & Clean)

Posted on Posted in GetTechnical, Olympic Weightlifting

When we talk about the teaching positions for Olympic Weightlifting, it’s important that we establish a common language and/or definition of what each position means. The main points of instruction include the Power Position, Hang Position, and the Start Position.

This morning, we had a positional review (along with visual aids) with one of our Personal Training clients. No matter what level you are at, it’s always important to understand the terminology and associate the language with its inherent meaning.

When starting out, it’s imperative that the “teaching positions” are taught often and taught properly. The topic was hip hinging and weight distribution — here are some points of interest for our main positions with a few excerpts from our Keep Pulling Mentorship and Coach Development Program Manual!

Power Position: Vertical torso, knees slightly bent, weight trending to HEELS

While standing at attention with the barbell in hand, have the athlete “sit” by bending slightly at the knees. This dip should be no deeper than two (2) to three (3) inches maximum and the bar should not slide down the thigh. Aside from the slight bend in the knees, the athlete should appear to be standing straight up and down. The athlete’s body weight should be focused on the heel of the foot. Any change in torso angle from hinging or bending at the hip is incorrect and pulls the athlete out of position.

Hang Position: Shoulders over barbell, shins vertical, weight trending to HEELS

While standing at attention with the barbell in hand, have the athlete bend straight over by hinging at the hip. The athlete’s knees should remain slightly bent while the chest aims towards the ground while the hips are pushed backward. The body weight of the athlete should remain on the heel of the foot with the shins being perpendicular to the ground.

Start Position: Hips above knees, shoulders over barbell, knees forward, bodyweight trending MID FOOT

The start position is the beginning of the full lift. In this position, the athlete is in a deadlift-like* position with the barbell resting on the ground. To achieve the proper barbell height of the start position, the barbell must have plates loaded (training plates, 5kg plates, etc). There is no one-size-fits-all start position primarily because of differences in bodily proportions from athlete to athlete. This is something that the coach and athlete will have to experiment with in order to find the most optimal positioning for the individual, but there are still standards that should be met.

*NOTE: The set up for the snatch or clean is mechanically opposite of a traditional deadlift in that the athlete should be in a position to PUSH the barbell off of the floor with the legs rather than PULLING it with the back.