The Work is Finally Paying Off

That was Ryan's comment yesterday after a very nice squat clean from the high hang position.

Ryan is a 16 y.o. swimmer/water polo dude who wants to learn how to snatch and clean & jerk. He's got some good basic strength and size (around 185 lbs or so), but he's not gifted with natural explosive speed or hip and ankle mobility. He's also really busy--6 am swim practice every morning, followed by tutoring service hours and then marching band drum line, most days of the week this summer. It is hard to find an hour or two, between all that and the evening swim meets.

Right now our focus is on these things:
  1. building lower extremity mobility and strength off the floor with hex bar DL's (rather than back squats)
  2. building lower extremity mobility, torso stability and a solid receiving position through front squats
  3. building lower extremity mobility, shoulder stability, torso stability and a solid receiving position with overhead squats & snatch balances
  4. creating a new motor pattern that is comfortable with the full squat snatch and clean, with light weight, from primarily the high hang/block position with occasional attempts from the floor
He is finally learning to sense when he does not keep a strong neutral spine position off the floor. His ankle and hamstring mobility is coming along nicely, although he still struggles a bit in the bottom position of the snatch. His shoulders have to compensate for his lack of ankle dorsiflexion--the torso is inclined too far forward. It's not that he can't get in the right position; his body automatically defaults to his old position (less ankle dorsiflexion/knees behind the toes) when he does a full snatch, but not in OHSs or snatch balances. We'll get there.

I'm taking a whole-part-whole approach, as we tease out the bad habits of arm-pulling and hips shooting up on lift off. The weights are light; we are completely rebuilding his squat motor pattern from square one. In a few weeks, we'll venture into the challengine world of low hang/block work to really work on the transition of the knees back under the bar. But right now Ryan doesn't have the hip mobility or torso control to start any lift in that position, so we focus on other points.

Ryan is great to work with. It is fun to watch him progress and patiently allow me to teach his body to be adaptable to the demands of the sport of weightlifting.


Anonymous said…

Thanks for this post and for letting us see inside you thinking as you work with Ryan. Very beneficial.

T Clark
Anonymous said…
I wish I had a coach like you. I'm learning Oly lifting but don't have coaches who emphasize neural patterns. It's more like "keep your head up" etc. You sound very thorough

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