One overarching take away from my Oly cert last weekend was that those lifts are very technically challenging! Mastering the technique with just a bar is hard enough, adding weight is a whole new challenge. I learned many approaches to coaching the different parts of the lift as we broke down the path of the bar from the ground to overhead or to your shoulders. Teaching someone the oly lifts and proper bar path so that they are truly proficient would take many, many hours and years of practice, but in CrossFit we only get to focus on snatch and clean and jerk maybe once a week. There are so many positions, muscle groups and cues to think about on the bar’s path to your shoulders (clean) or overhead (snatch) that it often becomes overwhelming if you’re thinking about all of them while you’re trying to do the lift. I’m sure different coaches have different opinions, but when I tried to think of a single cue to minimize all of the thoughts going through your head as you attempt a snatch or clean, keep the bar in the “area of base” is one that I think could work quite well. No, it’s not enough information to make your bar path perfect, but if you stay in the area of base it’ll be pretty close. So now you ask, what is the area of base?
As you can see in the diagram above, the area of base is the area around your feet (black line). This means, that as you do a snatch or clean, the bar path should never move outside of where you feet are. If you keep the bar in the area where your feet are, it certainly requires you to keep it in close to your body. If you relax your lats, bring the bar around your knees, lean way back, or throw your head back, you bar path will no longer be in your area of base. When you become slightly more proficient and figure out that your weight is centered around the middle of your foot to the middle of your heel (red line), your area of base shrinks even more. Now the bar path has to be even closer to your body to stay within your area of base. Keeping the bar in your area of base minimizes the cues you run through your head while lifting and will generally keep the bar in the right area. You should spend time breaking down the lift to improve each part of the lift and make it muscle memory, however if you’re mid-WOD and struggling with your oly lift, you can think “area of base” and at least make your movement more efficient.