Easy Indicator for Proper Start Position


A lot of people have asked me how they know if they are in the right starting position for the snatch or clean.  Recently one of the cool ways I have helped folks find their starting position is by looking at their position at the knee.  In the first pull, the goal is for the angle between the shoulders and the hips to not change.  So essentially we don’t want to see the back angle shift at all from the floor to the top of the knee.

Here’s a couple good videos of the back angle changing as well as a video of the back angle remaining the same through the first pull.

Consistent Back Angle

Changing Back Angle

Because we know that the back angle needs to stay consistent through the first pull that makes it easy to find our back angle for the start.  Simply get set in a really good position at the top of the knee with all the weight in the your heels.  THEN while maintaining the same back angle, push your knees forward, shift the weight in your foot closer to the front of the foot, and keep the back tight.  If you were able to maintain the perfect angle from the hang (top of the knee) to the floor then you will find yourself in the perfect starting position.  Especially those of us with longer torsos, this is pivotal as it allows us to really use our leverage rather than taking it away in the first pull.

Notice the same back angle here between his start and the top of his knee.

image-9 image-8


If you’r struggling finding a good starting position just put the bar in the perfect spot at the top of the knee and hold it to the floor.



7 responses to “Easy Indicator for Proper Start Position

  1. Coach,
    First, thanks for the wonderful blog. Each entry has got me thinking in new ways about my lifting.
    So, today’s entry addresses a big question in my mind regarding back angle. I’ve read from several coaches that the back angle should be consistent. One reason being that energy is lost when the hips rise faster than the shoulders. What I don’t understand is that even the top lifters do not adhere to that principle. Even your own lifts show a big change from the point the weight leaves the floor to the end of the first pull. Early on in my study of the snatch I recognized that Pyrros Dimas had the most consistent back angle. Since then I’ve done my best to emulate his snatch technique (with varying success). What am I missing?

    • To be straight with you. I have struggled and continue to struggle with this on a daily basis. I do first pull work, as much as it sucks, 3x a week to help. This video is a little older. Some of my more recent stuff I change less. Still change angle, just less That’s why most often I don’t use me as an example in my videos 🙂

      Check this video out and see how much I change. 2007 Snatch it’s gotten better since then.

      Over the course of 12 years working on it, it has gotten less and less but still remains. I am certainly not Pyrros. 🙂 As for other international lifters I would be sure to differentiate in there start position versus their back angle when the bar actually leaves the floor. Some of them have a dynamic start that eventually puts them in the right spot when the bar leaves the floor. Hope that helps. Great question.

  2. Pingback: Read this and Watch that! - CrossFit 77·

  3. Hey Coach,
    Thanks for all the valuable posts and coaching. Im pretty knew to weightlifting/crossfit (about one year now) so please bear with anything stupid i may ask.

    Question: Is your head (neck) and extension of the back (i.e. where the heck do I look when I start the snatch/ c&j).

    If you have already answered this question feel free to just point me in that direction.

    The reason I ask this is because I was told to watch this video of Kelly Starrett http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jgZ6OvZOyU . (I understand kelly comes from a crossfit background ) after when my coach called me out on breaking my head/neck position during the start of my cleans/snatches. I was under the impression that looking forward was the way to start the lifts. I got this impression from watching top notch lifters (including you). It seems they/you keep their eyes on a target and find a point to look at. Once this hips rise this naturally breaks the straight line up the back and neck to the head just a bit. My coach was saying that looking at a point is not valuable for two reasons. First, after watching the Kelly Starrett video, you aren’t creating (as much) tension through midline. Second, “Focus position is something for the start of a lift, not during. If you notice yourself focusing on a point, then your head is moving with the point, not with your body. This is again, incorrect. Your head must move with your spine to be efficient at delivering signals to the motor units in the muscles that you intend on firing, in order to do that, you need a straight line of transmission, not a pivot point for your eyes to follow.”

    Ive attached the links to a couple of my lifts below (by no means are they impressive but maybe they will give you insight to what im talking about. I understand there is probably a lot more wrong with those lifts than just my head positioning)

    Maybe it is a strength/mobility issue with me and so my start position compromises where my head should be. All i know is that when i try to keep my neck straight i end up looking straight at the ground a few feet in front of me…im not sure if that is right.

    Thanks for all your help,




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