Choose your cues wisely

What cues do you use? What are the best cues to use in Olympic weightlifting?

As I am a consciously competent lifter i have the tendency to give myself many instructions. Is my back aligned correctly? check my feet? have I set my shoulders? have I braced? is the bar over the top lace hole of my shoe? It is endless. And then the coach says, “stop over thinking, just do it.”

So a good cue will clear my head and get me through the part of the lift that I find difficult. It has taken me a while to find the right single words that connect with me visually to elicit the right physical responses. Here are some examples:

Bracing and unweighting the bar in the first pull

cue: ‘Clink’ (the bracing action makes the bar and plate sing for a moment in a pleasing way then it is silent until the end of the second pull)

My butt rises quicker than my hips

cue: ‘chest up’

cue: ‘hips back’

I want to be more aggressive in my second pull

cue: ‘JUMP!’ (for me that cues the maximum force push against the ground with my feet)

I am rushing my first pull

cue: counting the timing … onnne, twoo…

I am spongy in my catch

cue: “STIFF!’

My elbows bend too early in the second pull

cue: “elbows out” (for me, having elbows out from start of first pull means much harder to bend them)

cue: “straight arms”

cue: “like a pencil” (this is referring to the body being tall and vertical during the second pull and triple extension. This visual stops me from being too bent over and using my arms too much)

I use my arms more than my legs in the jerk

cue: “drop under” and “get under” (this makes me think of it as the body going down rather than the bar going up)

cue: “push under” (this implies you have to push yourself and your feet against the ground rather than push the bar above)

cue: “throw the bar up” (helps me to get under the bar)

My back rounds in the front squat

cue: “elbows up”

cue: “chest up”

I get stuck at the bottom of the clean

cue: “like a spring” (this makes me think of getting down to immediately rebound and get up again, with no time for stopping!!!)


The best advice I wish I used more often is to visualise my intentions in the lifts clearly, carefully, vividly. That is the time to use the verbals and the visuals. When it comes to doing it – do not over complicate or overthink, just execute.

I personally can only think about one short word or phrase — Alis


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