Olympic Lifting For Team Sports

The Olympic Lifting Question For Team Sports. 

Olympic Lifting with GAA teams, soccer, rugby, etc is a long-term project in my eyes, and you'll have to accept that some of your team can't, won't or shouldn't go near them.

That said, if you can get them in your program I have seen huge speed and power benefits with my athletes.

If you aren't proficient at the lifts don't dream of coaching them either, do something else and move on.

My best advice to athletes is really seeking out a good Olympic lifting coach if you want to learn them, and also I will say the same for aspiring S&C coaches (https://defygravity.ie/).

I would never do them off the floor with 99% of team sport athletes and I strongly recommend getting the proper bars, the cheaper 30mm Olympic bars are brutal for Olympic lifts, in fact, don't try with them.


Don't get these bars for Olympic lifting.

I think the first place you start when coaching your younger players hang cleans or even hang snatches is the front squat. The front squat mimics the clean "catch", it demystifies the Olympic bar for your athletes, they learn all the little nuances of using j-hooks, racking weights, stripping bars and they'll be shocked how tight they are trying to get into the catch position themselves. In recent times I use heel raises to help my athletes get into better positions squatting. I don't see any issues with this, and weight lifting shoes are essentially fancy heel raises anyway. 

This is a key position for the front squat and can be achieved with patience, mobility work, and time. 

Keep your reps low (please don't do high reps on Oly lifts) practice a tonne with broomstick handles and do your stretching and chances are you could be snatching or cleaning your way to faster sprint times (maybe). 

Hang Clean

Over time they will hang clean pretty well, getting kids in the gym young to build good habits is the key.

Things I have noticed with Olympic lifting variations with teams that may help you -

Chiefly I coach hang snatch and hang clean - I coach the Harry Leech inspired way. 

1, Warm-up is crucial, skip this at your peril. Think about a tonne of practice with dowels, light training bars, and just general mobility. The looser and warmer you are the better before you attempt the Olympic Lifts. 

wrist stretch

A simple routine of stretching on the wrists, lats, quads, and T-spine can help Olympic lifting technique.

2, Recording the lifts helps you coach a tonne. Sending your athletes good videos on technique helps too. 

Oly Lifts Education

A TV screen or an Ipad can give your players great feedback on their technique and issues.

3, Your athletes will be incredibly "arm" dominant. This is a habit built up from their "curls and sit-ups" days. You'll say loose arms, or your arms are like ropes 1 million times. 

4, Good equipment helps 100%. 

5, A mirror in small doses helped me coach my athletes big time. Don't let them use it all the time though. 

6, Chalk adds a "cool" factor and reduces slippy bar syndrome which will aid technique greatly, liquid chalk is only ok. In a team setting, you'll have ten pairs of hands on one bar, the sweat will produce lots of slippy bars, so chalk might help you coach a good bit. 

7, Getting your athletes in good solid runners is the best you can hope for, if they buy weightlifting shoes you'll see massive improvements, encourage them to buy them. In fact, proper runners for gym training, in general, is a huge bed bug of mine. I constantly make my athletes buy a decent pair of runners just for gym use. 

A chart I hand all my players - poor runners kills technique

8, Don't over coach, let them make mistakes - but let them make them with a lightweight. Think about John Wooden, Do this, Don't do this, Do that. 

9, When you're coaching have a light bar nearby to show technique, Olympic lifting is not a good idea without a warm-up (especially with my mobility), don't be tempted to just jump in coaches! I have a dodgy neck as a result. Buy some cheap wooden dowels and do the Olympic lift warm-up 

10, Be patient - good technique takes time. If the session descends into chaos be sure to have a fallback exercise. Simple things like Dumbbell jumps, Hex Bar Jumps, DB Snatch can be a nice fallback.

11, You will say keep the bar close to your body 1 million times. A good thing to try is to hold a gym mat in front of the player when they lift (with a lightweight) and make them keep it closer to their body. 

hang clean

Simple set up - Bars waiting to go, different weights on the bars, kids in a line waiting for their turn. Add some mobility work in the waiting time.

12, Always ask yourself, did that lift pass the crap test, if it looked crap it was crap, if it didn't it wasn't. Remember, these are team sport athletes, not elite Olympic lifters so allow some leakage. 

13, You'll never have enough time to coach them, be strict with your time in the session. I budget for 20mins including warm-up, it will take around 3-4 weeks for your athletes to like them. 


I am a huge fan of Olympic lifting variations with my athletes, I have seen it transform some people into frankly more explosive humans. It is worth noting that to a cohort of strength coaches, they are a waste of time with teams sports athletes and I am totally ok with that viewpoint. You absolutely can live without them. Modalities such as Hex Bar Jumps, DB Jumps, Plyos, Complex Training, and the list goes on,  will all make your athletes more powerful with probably more ease.  Maybe I just love the challenge of coaching them, I do know if an athlete walks into my weight room for the first time and can do them, I just know that person had a really good strength coach in a previous life. 

I hope you enjoyed the tips, again I will be clear, I am not an Olympic lifting coach but merely an S&C that teaches Olympic lifting variations to my more advanced athletes.

Happy coaching. 

Coach Hare