S&C coaches don’t necessarily need to be masters of the Olympic lifts; however, weightlifting and the derivatives are certainly a useful tool to have in the coaching toolbox and they are great modality for progressively developing power. The coach’s eye is key, and the ability to identify the various phases of the Olympic lifts is essential in order to troubleshoot and refine an athlete’s technique. That being said, an athlete doesn’t need to know the six phases (seven depending on what S&C textbook you’re reading) of a clean in order to perform the movement well! An athlete needs to know why it’s in their program and how to do it safely, then optimally. To that end, over the years I’ve coached I have found the reverse chain method the most effective when anchoring the clean technique while also achieving the training stimulus I am after (power). Essentially the clean is a loaded jump, and I use the below sequence for teaching and program pending on an individuals needs and the stimulus I’m looking for.
Front Squat in correct position >> High Hang Power Clean >> High Hang Clean >> Low Hang Clean (bar just above knees) >> Power Clean from floor.
In the video below you can see me perform Low Hang Power Cleans to get an idea of the positions. You’ll notice I drop to High Hang position then down into the Low Hang position, followed by moving as fast as I can upwards.
When an athlete is fully competent on the basic lower movements of S&C (squat and hinge patterns etc) and they can maintain a correct front squat/ front rack position, we’ll then introduce the High Hang Clean and get proficient from that power position.
The below video is from 2016 and represents a 18 year old player who went through the full reverse chain method of learning the clean (and a progressive strength development program). Here he hits a 130kg full clean for the first time, and though he could certainly improve the catch position (notice the elbows are slightly lower than we would like) it is another good example of the method working. The reason I really like the reverse chain method is down to being able to get a power stimulus while teaching the lift! Can you imagine if I spend all of this player’s U17 season teaching the full lift and going over every detail of each phase? He would have taken double the time to get to a 130kg clean (remember these guys need to; 1. get strong and fit too, 2. Actually practice their own sport and skills 3. have a life that isn’t being a weightlifter!).Tags: Clean, olympic weightlifting, power, Strength