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Three simple drills to improve your Power Clean.
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 2000

There are three highly effective, yet simple, Power Clean Drills I present at a BFS Clinic. These drills only take a few minutes, even with a large group. They are ideal when starting high school or college athletes and/or students on the Power Clean or Power Snatch. These three drills can be done with a dowel, an Aluma-lite bar, a regular 45-pound Olympic bar or without a bar.

Before I start these drills, I want to make sure everyone can get into a perfect power position. This position can be quite difficult for some. For those familiar with our Six Coaching Absolutes, I really use them on the Power Clean. I have everyone place their hands on their knees (got this from Mike Burgener). I want eyes on their given target, chest tall with hips back, chest spread and lower back locked in. See Hands on Knees Photo #1. Everyone must assume a perfect jump stance with their knees aligned straight over their toes. The elbows must be locked while the athlete puts some of his body weight on his knees. This process works wonders in helping most athletes get into a perfect power position.
A small percentage of athletes will still not be able to “feel” the correct position. For these difficult cases, I have the athlete sit on a box or bench. See Photo #2. I can then mold them into a perfect position without too much trouble. With the most difficult athletes I will say, “Make your lower back good. Now make it bad. Now good again.” I will repeat this if necessary. After the athlete can do it on the box, I have him stand upright and then go back to “hands on knees.” Usually this works. If not, have him/her practice at home or assign a captain to make him/her great.

The next step after getting into a perfect power position is to assume a perfect Power Clean position. This transition is easy. All I have the athletes do is bring their hands from their knees to a position right outside their knees. The athletes pretend like they are holding onto a bar while keeping their knuckles to the floor. It should look like a Hang Clean position with the “pretend” bar just above the knees. See Burroughs Photo #3 of Leland Ratcliff, Senior Tight End/D. End - Power Clean 235: Close-up of the Hang Clean Position. We are now ready for the three easy Power Clean Drills.

I did a BFS Clinic last June at Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest, California. Football coach, Jeff Steinberg, wanted his athletes to go through these three drills. I took some photos which should help you, the reader, better understand. Burroughs Photo #4 (the Power Clean position): Some of the athletes are good. Some are not so good. Analyze these athletes. Are the elbows locked? Are the knees straight? Some of the kids are in an athletic position, which is another position I teach during the course of a BFS Clinic. That is why so many of the athletes have their hands inside their knees. It would only take a minute or two to get most everyone perfect after this photo. But, you must do it. Do not go on until most can do it perfectly.


Jump Straight Up: This drill is illustrated in Burroughs Photo #5. For this posed photo, some of the Burroughs’ athletes were not clear on my instructions. Some of the athletes are doing Drill #2 with the elbows being raised to the ceiling. My fault. Leland Ratcliff on the left is demonstrating Drill #1 very well. All you do is jump straight up in the air while keeping the knuckles to the floor and eyes on target, The target for the eyes should be at a point about 45 degrees up on the wall. The eyes should not be straight ahead. Again, analyze the athletes. What is being done correctly? Who needs help?

Burroughs Photo #6 shows Leland doing Drill #1 correctly.


Jump With Elbows To The Ceiling: See Burroughs Photo #7. Most of the athletes are looking good. Analyze their jumps. Do all the athletes have their legs and toes in a picture perfect Vertical Jump? If an athlete does not look like he is jumping straight up for maximum height, he is not Cleaning correctly. Burroughs Photo #8 shows Leland again. He looks good on Drill #2. Some strength coaches like to talk about a shoulder shrug during a Power Clean. I use the term shoulders to the ears (got that from Jeff Conners at East Carolina). However, if you really get the elbows to the ceiling, the shrug is natural. I want to eliminate talking about the shoulders if my athletes can do it with the elbows. The less to think about the better.


Drill #2 and Land: See Burroughs Photo #9. I want the athletes to land in a solid, perfect Athletic Position with the elbows up. The feet should now be wider than a jump stance. I call it an “Athletic Stance.” I do not use the term “about shoulder width apart.” I want the eyes on target while being tall with the hips back and lower back locked in. Spread the chest! Analyze the photo. Look at their toes. Does every kid look like an athlete? Are the knees directly over the toes? Are some stances too wide? Too narrow? Burroughs Photo #10 shows Leland in a good landing position. I took this photo during the drill so I think, a split second later, Leland had his elbows higher and his left elbow more forward; like the elbow position of the athlete directly behind.


The Power Snatch becomes easy to implement if you use the Three Drills. Drill #1 Jump Straight Up but just use the wider Snatch grip while keeping the knuckles to the floor. Drill #2 Jump With Elbows To The Ceiling but again, just use the wider Snatch grip. Drill #3 Use Drill #2 and Land using the Overhead Snatch Position. See Leland in Burroughs Photo # 11.


Drill #1 helps the athlete to learn and feel the “triple extension.” I do not use this term because I don’t want to scramble a kid’s brain with too much to think about. If an athlete jumps straight up in the air, he will automatically get a triple extension (the hips, the knees and the ankles).

Drill #2 helps the athlete to learn and feel the important principle of keeping the bar in tight, close to the body while getting a greater upward pull. Many beginning athletes want to Reverse Curl the bar during the Clean. This moves the bar outside the most effective Power Line or outside the lifter’s center of gravity. This drill also helps the athlete coordinate the jump with correct elbow position.

Drill #3 helps the athlete coordinate the jump with the landing position. At BFS Clinics that have the participation package, the coaches at the school will move from athlete to athlete as they mold each of them into the correct position. If an athlete lands incorrectly, he/she must be corrected on the spot.

Thanks to Burroughs High School, Coach Steinberg and Leland for helping me with this article. I had a great time at their clinic and worked with many “Elevens.”

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