The Oly Encyclopedia 23

The First Phase of the Pull: "Pre-Lift-Off

In both the snatch and the clean, today's lifters typically begin to exert force on the bar with their feet placed approximately at the width of the hips and turned out slightly. The bar is positioned roughly over the juncture of the metatarsal/phalangeal joints (the juncture of the toes and the foot). The torso is typically inclined at an angle of 25-50 degrees in relation to the ground or "platform"; the angle tends to be larger in the clean than the snatch, i.e., the torso is more upright. The shoulders are positioned directly over or slightly forward of the bar (a few lifters start with the shoulders slightly behind the bar, but this is generally considered to be a mistake). The shins are inclined forward and slightly outward and are close to or touching the bar.

There is typically an arch in the lumbar region of the spine (the lower back), with the rest of the spine held relatively straight (i.e., the curve that normally exists in the thoracic region of the spine is reduced in most athletes at the start of the pull).

The shoulders are slightly back but are not shrugged upward toward the neck and the arms are straight. The hips are at approximately the same horizontal level as the knees but are often somewhat above or below the knees. (The hips tend to be higher in the clean than the snatch.)

The differences in hip position and torso angle in the clean and the snatch are due in part to the wider grip that is used in the snatch (causing the lifter to have the torso closer to the bar and hence often to lower the hips further at the start) and in part to the difference in the weights used in the snatch and the clean. It is harder to start the bar from a lower hip position, so when heavier weights are lifted, as they are in the clean, the hips tend to be placed in a higher position. The angle of the knees in the starting position is between 90 degree and 45 (the smaller the angle the more fully the athlete's knees are bent).

At the start of the pull, the position of the head typically ranges from being in line with the torso to being held in a vertical position. Having assumed this position the lifter begins to exert force against the bar. When the force exerted on the bar reaches a level that exceeds the combination of the bar's weight and inertia (the resistance of a body to change in what it is doing, in this case not moving), separation of the bar from the platform takes place. At this point the center of gravity of the athlete is typically at the middle of the foot or somewhat behind that point.

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