Lead With the Shoulders


Here’s a good example of a back angle staying the same and beautifully leading with the shoulders off the floor.

We’ve all seen it. The athlete who begins to finally understand the first pull. They finally understand that their knees have to move back off the floor and the bar needs to move with them. They begin to see why the bar needs to move back to their hips instead of their hips moving forward into the bar. The light is coming on!

But now they are so focused on getting the knees back and executing the most beautiful first pull you’ve ever seen that they forget what to do with their back angle and their shoulders. You can pick this athlete out from across the room because every time they snatch their back angle changes dramatically and instead of a nice strong position at the knee, their back is parallel to the floor and likely rounded over.

Because of the emphasis I give the first pull when I teach the lifts, I see this happen all the time. One of the cues I have been using to help athletes understand how to change this habit is “lead with the shoulders.” An athlete who understands the necessity for the knees moving back will often complete this without too much coaching. It’s really not that hard. However, if their back angle is changing telling them to set their back hard and lead with the shoulders off the floor will help their back angle stay consistent and keep them in a strong position through the first and second pull. I often will have my athlete imagine I have attached two hooks to their shoulder blades and that I am pulling them up by their shoulders.

It’s important that an athlete, especially a new one, learn that the bar moves back with the knees off the floor. However, a word of warning to coaches: Don’t let them create a habit of changing their back angle. It’s a hard one to break and the repercussions of the bad habit are massive. Namely, a lot of missed lifts.

In you want to see a good comparison of me not leading with my shoulder vs Matt Bruce doing a good job of it. check this old video out.

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5 responses to “Lead With the Shoulders

  1. Any exercises and drills you like for helping maintain back angle? Three positron pulls? Thanks for the article this is something I’ve been struggling with recently. I really like the lead with the shoulders cue!

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