One of the biggest debates regarding the Olympic lifts in training for athletes is the skill involved in Olympic lifting. There is definitely skill involved but the carryover to the playing field/court is so immense that improving this skill is a must.
Sometimes just repeating the clean and jerk and snatch over and over is just not going to be enough, you must include some accessory lifts that can truly improve the skill required to complete the actual movements.
The two following movements are excellent at improving skill but also at building strength and explosiveness. These are not time wasters, they will immediately improve skill and power, and if you ask me that is a winning combination.
I like these two movements because they tell you where you have weaknesses right away. They require execution, strength and power to complete.
1. Clean Grip Power Snatch
I really like self-limiting exercises. It essentially makes the coaching really easy, and if the coaching is easy the athlete can get immediate feedback as to whether they performed the exercise correctly. The clean grip power snatch is an excellent tool to improve performance in the traditional snatch and the clean because it is self-limiting, if the movement isn’t done correctly the lift won’t be completed.
Final hip extension is what we are looking at in the clean grip snatch, and if the athlete does not reach this position the lift will not be completed. While in the clean and the snatch some athletes can resort “diving” under the bar to make the lift, a lack of mobility for most athletes in the thoracic spine will make catching a clean grip snatch in a low position next to impossible for all but a few gifted athletes. With diving out of the picture we can now get a complete and accurate picture of whether the athlete is actually completing their pull.
2. Split stance Press and Overhead Squat
For a lot of athletes (weightlifters and power athletes alike), the jerk is the most difficult part of the lift. While not truly explosive the SS Press and OH Squat is an outstanding tool to get athletes in better positions for the actual split jerk.
By establishing a 90/90 position for receiving the jerk I am able to find a position of great stability, but also one that requires the bar be aligned with my spine throughout the lift. Forward bar position, too much weight on the front foot, etc will absolutely result in a failed lift when doing this movement.