Tonight’s post is one of the most important concepts surrounding the Olympic lifts. The first pull. Many lifters do not understand or know where the bar should be as it comes off the floor or where the bar should be at the knee. It took a long time for me to understand the sweep back of the bar during the first pull and is taking even more time to make it habitual. Literally it is my least favorite part of the Olympic lifts.
Basically, when the bar leaves the ground it MUST track backwards off the ground. It MUST sweep back. Otherwise for the remainder of the lift, the bar will likely be in front of you and your hips. If the bar does not come back off the floor, two movement patterns tend to result.
1- The lifter will have to jump forward to get under the bar. With the bar out in front of the hips and thus in front of one’s center of gravity, the only option the lifter has is to jump forward to go get the bar OR miss the bar out front. Lovingly nicknamed the Snatch Broad Jump.
(Yikes..PS: He fixed this in about 3 hours of teaching)
2- The lifter will thruster their hips horizontally into the bar sending the bar in a long arc AWAY from their body. The hip movement looks more like a kettlebell swing than snatch/clean. The hips MUST move vertically and they cannot do so with the bar way out in front of their hip.
Here is a good example of what happens when the bar doesn’t sweep back and is at a bad position at the top of the knee
And a half-speed example (Sorry Matt)
Ultimately it is of pivotal importance that lifters sweep the bar back off the floor for three HUGE reasons.
1- The bar gets to the hips at the right time with the proper weight in the heels.
2- A proper first pull loads the hamstrings and posterior chain in order to allow the lifter to gain maximal bar speed at the right time.
3- It keeps the bar closer to the body allowing for the most efficient bar track.
Here’s a good video explaining the sweep back on one of my lifts.