Stomping on the Olympic Lifts

Many coaches teach a “slap down with the feet” upon the ending of the lift. I like my athletes to have full extension in all joints, including the ankle, which means they do not perform this technique. I know the divide of opinion on this…what are your thoughts? How do you teach your clients in regards to this?

 

I’m not always linear, am I?
Well, yes. Yes, I am. Because I don’t talk about stuff strongly when I don’t know what I’m talking about.

 

Honestly, I let it go either way, and it depends.  How about that?  I am not linear on something.  And perhaps I should be, but I will discuss my stance on this.  My defense as you will see is less clinically based and more coaching based.

First off, I am not that picky in terms of loading up the bar with the Olympic Lifts. You can probably find research that support anywhere from 20% to 70 and change % loads that “maximize” power output, and quite frankly, I am not inclined to trust a researcher’s fine toothed comb when it comes to monitoring Olympic Lifting form in untrained individuals.  Because of course if you’re not using untrained individuals, then how valid is the research in the first place?  Think about that before you hang your hat on some research paper.

To be clear, I am of the opinion that stomping is not correct in the olympic lift technique.  Notice I didn’t say wrong though.  My body work in not as robust as other coaches in the olympic lifts, but I can say that it is very rare to see a stomp preceded by legitimate triple extension.  This is what the olympic lifts are about, and if we are not achieving triple extension, then I think this is a mistake or at best, an inefficiency.  As well as it simply not being what the move is supposed to look like, I think it often yields the bar path well off the body, which again is not ideal form.
To this end, I will coach against the stomp if the bar is off the body.  Stomp = inefficient.  Bar off the body = wrong.

Can you have the stomp with triple extension?  I suppose, yes, but when I try it myself in the snatch (because if I clean, it looks like this), everything has to slow down, which again, is simply not acceptable.

But during 2 big projects I had this summer where olympic lifting technique was/is a big part of the program, here is where I allowed the stomp and didn’t allow the stomp.

At the Roddick-Lavalle tennis academy, we have some of the best junior tennis players in the world.  Given their young age and more importantly, young training age, stupid nonsense in the weight room have not ravaged their FMS, and the lowest we have is a 13 with a 1 on the TSPU.  So with lots of 3s on shoulders and 2s on hips, I am very excited to get the older kids hang cleaning.  So in teaching a few of the boys, we starting with dowels and the empty bar and hammered the hang to power from the bottom up, and the front squat from the top down.  They progressed to muscle clean where obviously there is no stomp at all.

Some of these kids are monsters.

These kids look the part.  They look like competent olympic lifts, and in a Bill Starr-based program (all my programs except Westside are based off Bill Starr’s 5×5 theories), they are cleaning 3x/week.  They have big triple extension, and catch the bar athletically with elbows high.  These kids are going to be monsters, and their coaches at the academy are thrilled with how their tennis games have progressed.

So with these kids, big body of work to deal with, great movement patterns, multiple tiers of coaching, test-retest, and audits.  No stomp allowed.  Let’s start from the right places, and let’s do it perfectly.

In another example last summer, I had the privilege of working with an NBA All-Star for about 12 weeks.  This was exciting because we again had the time to do lots of things very precisely with blocks associated with a new FMS each block, Bioforced daily, coordinated shooting and on-court work with manual therapy for recovery, lots of exciting things putting it all together.  So in one of the very first workouts, we did Medball Slams, and bingo, huge crazy stomp.  I remember clearly about to start to walk towards him and be like. “Whoa, whoa, whoa.”  I know this is not right, but I know this looks athletic.  This dude is a 10-year NBA vet; I know him for about 2 weeks; he’s about to train in a way for 12 weeks that he’s never trained before; he looks freakin’ savage and athletic; he’s throwing the ball as absolutely as hard as he can with ruthless aggression.  He’s stomping.  Coach Boyle’s voice in my head says, “Let it go.  Be a coach.  You only have so many bullets.”

So for the rest of the summer, the stomping in Medball Slams and 1-arm DB Snatches was seen regularly.  I never said one thing.  During overreaching towards the end of August, we did 8 sets of 3/3 and 2/2 with 70 pound DBs with 20s rest in between each set.  He looked athletic.  He looked strong, and he looked aggressive attacking the weight.  He looked like a 6’9″ NBA All-Star, and I didn’t coach a thing.  He stomped every rep.  And I let it go because I wanted to use the precious bullets in my coaching rifle for other things.  I have a lot more bullets with the tennis kids.

You only get so many of these in coaching and rehab. Pick your spots.

So you’ll notice I’ve never said stomping was wrong.  I’ve said it’s not right.  I said it’s inefficient.
Does the lift look fast and athletic?  It actually may look faster, more athletic, more mean with the stomp.  But ultimately, I know we’re after triple extension for the carry over.
I have progressed so much in Olympic Lifting over the last several years with mentorship from Mike Gattone, Jeff Macy, and Harvey Newton.  It’s a long way from the powerlifting vs. olympic lifting dumbass pissing contests back @ Ironsport.  But then I was in the NBA, and whenever I saw big knees forward and heeled shoes, I saw knee pain as well as elitist olympic lifters with hurt knees and backs all the time in the gym.  I still think the shoes are an abomination for anyone not competing in Olympic Lifting and no different than the body armor I wear in powerlifting.  That being said, I am an enormous proponent of olympic lifting for most people, but ultimately, it may not be worth the squeeze for others, particularly in regards to this stomping question.

But remember, I couldn’t care less about Olympic Lifting for the sake of Olympic Lifting.  I don’t care what it supposed to be, or what it looks like.  I care about what it produces in the big picture.

 

 

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5 Responses to “Stomping on the Olympic Lifts”

  1. Myles Astor says:

    We often lose the forest for the trees and the real take home message is how much OLifts improve ALL athlete’s performance! I’ve seen it everyone from golfers to football to track to hockey to lacrosse to tennis athletes.

  2. Curious says:

    Interesting article! Could you elaborate a little why lifting shoes cause knee pain? Should non-olympic lifters do squats and olympic lifts with flat shoe/bare feet? Does it limit ankle mobility in the long term?

    I’m asking because I have had some knee problems with front and back squats in the past, and I wonder if elevated heels had something to do with it. Thanks!

  3. Charlie says:

    Yes, constant big loads under an anterior weight shift can lead to knee and back pain.

  4. Christopher Gaines says:

    Charlie,

    This is very helpful information concerning Olympic Lifts. When you mention that you only have so many ‘bullets’, can you share your thoughts on how to determine the bullets that you have for use with a particular training client? I think I have definitely gone overboard with cueing in the past and would appreciate your insights on how to focus my attention.

    Thanks again for writing this.

    Chris

  5. Charlie says:

    Chris, it all just dependent on who the client is and what are their goals.
    Should we be pushing a 48 year old attorney to snatch a bar over his head when he can competently swing? No.
    Should we take the time to teach a 15 year old D1-to-be-athlete how to catch a clean? Probably.

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