Keep Your Friends Close and the Bar Closer
Written by Sage Burgener

As a coach, I tend to be a chronic cue-er. Athletes either love it or they hate it…I don’t really care either way (kidding) (but seriously).

Finding cues that help my athletes have that “a-ha” moment is fun for me! There are so many different ways to explain each part of the lift, and it’s a coach’s job to figure out what cue is going to be understood and received by each individual athlete in each specific moment.

I recently received an email from an athlete who asked what some of my cues were for keeping the bar close to her body in the snatch. I get this question a lot, so it inspired me to write this blog post in hopes that I’ll never have to explain this ever again (#sarcasm).

There are a FEW things I like to think about when trying to keep the bar close:

#1. Engaging the lats. Not just off the ground, but through the WHOLE entire lift (the lift off, the drive, the pull under, the receive). Engaging the lats helps to place all the tension and power in our body and our legs…which helps us keep the weight OFF our arms. Tension and weight in the arms results in an early arm bend (in an attempt to pull the bar back into our body), OR it causes us to be pulled forward by the barbell…which is, ultimately, DEATH.

#2. Allow the hips to LIFT the bar up. The closer you can keep that bar to your belly button, the more control you will have over it. We NEVER want the hips to HIT the bar out. The hips should LIFT the bar up vertically in more of a BRUSHING motion, and less of a banging motion. If your hips move vertically, the bar moves vertically. And if the bar moves vertically, you’re basically ready for the Olympics.

#3. Knuckles down as you’re pulling under. If our arms (more specifically lats) are too loose on the pull under, the bar tends to drift out in front of us. Don’t misinterpret this as me saying to keep your arms tight and pull up on the bar. Think about keeping your knuckles down as you’re pulling yourself DOWN and AROUND the bar. Knuckles down will flex your forearms a bit, and this will kind of trick your lats into staying engaged (see cue #1). This will help you keep the bar close to your body, which will help you keep control of the bar as you’re pulling yourself down.

There are roughly forty-seven more cues that can help us to keep the bar close, but we’ll save that for another blog post.

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