Catching Cleans


Catching Cleans


Much of it is flexibility-related, which we all know. If an athlete is tight in the wrists, shoulders, elbows, and upper back, receiving cleans on the shoulders can be a real bugger. You start to see two big problems:

  1. They have to open their hands and let the bar roll back on their fingers when they catch it on their shoulders, often letting their pinky fingers (and maybe even their ring fingers) pop off the bar. Men usually have more trouble with this than women.
  2. They don’t catch the bar at the top of the shoulders, tucked into that “notch” we all see when expert lifters turn over their cleans. Instead, the bar lands on a forward area of their deltoid, possibly even down on the sternum.

I’ll bet I just described about half of you.

These two problems lead to…more problems. One or both hands popping completely off the bar during the catch phase. Dangerous misses where the bar lurches forward and jams the wrists or, even worse, dumps off the shoulders into the lifter’s lap. Timing issues, long-term pain increases, etc. One way or another, you simply have to fix these glitches.

First, the flexibility problems (or as everybody loves to say these days, “mobility”) have to be chipped away at. Flexibility doesn’t improve right away. It’s something an athlete has to put a lot of sustained, persistent effort into over a long period of time. I’m not going to start listing flexibility drills in this article because this website (and the internet in general) is crawling with them. You can do your own research.

Second, there are technical issues you can look at that will improve your clean turnover/catch. As with my last article on snatching, I’m not going to make this a comprehensive analysis of the clean. We’re not reviewing every single aspect of the lift here, so I’m deliberately leaving several things out. Instead, let’s just hit a couple of technical cues and ideas that might help a lot of you:” Continued…