Now That I Have Your Attention . . .

by coachdanbell


Wow. My faith in humanity has diminished just a bit. Normally my posts get from 400 to 600 views total. My last post was a nearly substance free and obscenity laced rant, for much of which I railed against putting foreign programs, lifters and coaches on a pedestal. It pulled almost 3,000 views in less than two days. A more cynical man might take that as a cue for more of the same. I am cynical, but not that cynical. (Not always, anyway) But thanks for reading. As a reward, here is a post that’s actually worth something.

The Back Half Drill

I use this drill with all of my lifters. Experienced lifters use it to warm up and as a reminder/reinforcement of a proper pull. Newer lifters use it to learn how to properly direct the second pull. I wish I could say I invented it, but it is an amalgam partly stolen from the heel jump drill I first encountered in Don McCauley’s book Power Trip and partly from a Sean Waxman instructional video.

It is not that difficult to teach a proper first pull, but once the bar clears the knees, that’s where a lot of lifters go very wrong. While Sean Waxman’s drill can be useful, I still think lifters have a tendency to be too far forward in the foot with this drill. Taking away the ball of the foot by hanging it off of a raised surface accomplishes a few things: it is impossible to push the hips too far forward because there is no front of the base to go to; this means the hips finish going forward at full extension and no more forward than that; the balance being so far back in the foot puts the athlete in a bit of danger of losing their balance backwards, which forces the hips to pull out and down in the right timing.

This can all be accomplished with the heel jump drill, but adding a bar forces the lifter to engage the bar as well. Even in the best pull the hips will drive the bar a little forward. That will happen in this drill unless the lifter makes a conscious effort to keep the bar pinned to the hip–to engage the lats and keep them engaged.

If we were only jumping, though, it would ignore learning to transition under the bar in the right timing. So we do one jump, one power snatch, one jump, one power snatch.

I can already hear someone out there protesting that, “The lifter should not be driving through the heels at the top of the pull!” I agree, and I have never seen this drill result in that. What it does is teach the lifter to go to the ball of the foot as late as possible. The resulting pull has most lifters going to the balls of their feet, some simply rising on them, many actively driving through the balls of the feet. My lifter Jon Dawson is as close to pulling exactly the way I’d like as anyone I’ve coached. He had been lifting for a little while when we met and he had the tendency to drive the hip too far forward and lean back away from the bar. This drill helped him a lot, as you can see.

Give this drill a try. And I promise to be back later (much later) with a profane and riveting post long on rant and short on substance.