Archive | November 2012

Fun Police

“Don’t let your athletes snatch or overhead squat unless they can Sotts press a bar!”
Let me try to rationalise the outburst.

In my interactions with coaches and affiliate owners I have constantly been confronted with a reflection of my own desire for knowledge around correct and most efficient coaching practices. Rules to coach by if you will. There is no one way and the best way is the way that works. Now with my politician answers out of the way let me share with you a theory that just might have the makings of a rule for best practice.

Sotts Press is a key movement.

Many movements are difficult or not yet achievable for some athletes due to barriers that prevent their progress. A gate through that barrier could be unlocked if you spent the time to get the key.

Sotts Press is a key movement.

So lets have a look at this movement and a great expression of it from KStar.

The proposed rule is that new athletes be held in a pattern of power snatch and front squat and not be encouraged to practice Squat Snatches or Over head Squats until they can display competence in the Sotts Press.
Now there are more subs than just those two but essentially the proposal is that Sotts Press is a prerequisite movement for squat snatch and overhead squat.

If you have an obstinate athletes (or you are the obstinate athlete) that insists on overhead squatting and snatching despite not being able to Sotts press then the practice of those movements should be done with a focus on correcting the limiting pieces of the Sotts Press.

If you cannot Sotts press because you have poor thoracic mobility then any snatching or OHS you do should be part of a strategy to correct that dysfunction rather than practicing how you can “get it done” around your personal tightnesses or weaknesses.

Why the Sotts press?
In the upper extremity we have a behind the neck press, in my opinion, a great tool for identifying tight shoulders or upper backs.

In the lowerbody we have a squat with the most upright posture you can manage – the ideal receive position for the snatch or clean. As long as the backs stay neutral and the heels are down and tensioned. This position alone highlights tight ankles, weak glutes and a host of other lowerbody position flaws.

I feel a little like captain obvious with this article given just brought out this video:

A similar key movement is the overhead squat with Dumbbells or kettlebells as seen in the San Francisco CrossFit Man/Woman Test.

Pointing out what people cannot do or what they should do differently is much easier than identifying what they can do to eventually achieve the positions that elude them.

I like the idea of training for the test.

Step 1: Can you BTN Press? if yes proceed to step 2. If no, get busy with a combination of mobility work from MWOD, Specific External rotation exercises like this gold from Nick Tuminello:

not to be confused with this move:

And most importantly go as light as you need to in order to achieve a BTN Press while keeping your elbows slightly forward the whole time.

Step 2: Can you squat with a vertical torso (heels down of course!)? if yes proceed to step 3. If no, get busy with a combination of mobility work like these aggressive ones from Cal Strength click here.

If you are lacking flexibility in the ankle – get yourself into a lifting shoe. If you cannot get one then jack up your heels and simulate one. Or reduce your squatting weight to a load you can hit the vertical positions with.

Note: I believe that this is an advanced squat – athletes must have a solid understanding of their hamstrings being active in this knee forward position to ensure the knee is protected. This understanding comes from box squats, low bar back squats without oly shoes and progressively adds a forward knee and upright posture in the high bar back squat and front squat.

Step 3: Start Sotts pressing with whatever training aids allow that to happen, chock up your heels, use bands to assist your balance the lightest bar you have. Then slowly wean yourself off the training aids and sneak the bar weight up.

There are plenty of ways to get your extra oly lifting prescription Outlaw, Catalyst, Cal Strength,Mike’s Gym just be careful that you are not practicing poor mechanics.

The charter to train by is; strive for good MECHANICS, Practice until you can demonstrate good mechanics with CONSISTENCY then finally challenge your ability to consistently demonstrate good mechanics by adding INTENSITY.