Correctional Cues

Cues are only as good as the athlete’s ability.
Often times we get new athletes in the gym that have zero flexibility in their upper back and shoulders. These kids cannot do an overhead squat because they are two tight to squat with the bar in an overhead position. We can cue these kids to hold their traps tight on the pull, or to finish more with the upper body, but ultimately they lack the strength to coordinate their muscle groups to execute the lift properly. Sometimes these same kids can clean really well and they will develop strength and coordination from practicing the clean. We can have these athletes practice the overhead squat for high reps because their legs are strong enough for the squats. Later, these athletes can transition into muscle snatches followed by an overhead squat, and eventually their upper back and shoulders will gain enough strength and flexibility to execute the full snatch movement.
Other athletes can easily squat with the bar in an overhead position and take to the snatch very quickly. Often times these athletes will struggle with the clean because they lack the strength the clean heavier weights. These athletes should practice the snatch as much as possible. They will develop leg and core strength from the snatch and prepare their body for properly executing the clean as they get stronger. They can also practice front and back squats, single leg squats, and goblet squats to develop the leg strength to help them later with the clean.
It is important to play to an athlete’s strength, and simultaneously develop where the athlete is weak. The Olympic lifts can be valuable tools for all types of athletes, but they can’t always be learned my repetition alone. If you can’t find the right cue to correct an athlete’s form then you should consider what weakness is causing the incorrect movement pattern.

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