Avoiding the Bar Crash: Insight Towards Correction



Whenever questions come up regarding "Bar Crashing" and how to correct this common problem we will look at suggestions from two internationally recognized and respected coaches, Jim Schmitz of the Sports Palace of San Francisco and Lyn Jones, to gain insight on how to remedy this common problem in athletes.

Coach Schmitz

Coach Schmitz has stated many times, in his illustrious career, on the failure to meet the bar (bar crashes on the lifter): 

The coach must stress timing. The lifter must pull with his arms after he finishes his extension to maintain contact with the bar and control the speed of the decent. Remind the lifter he does not have to drop immediately to the low squat, but only to the level of the bar.
— Coach Schmitz
Jim Schmitz  coached  Team USA  in the 1980, 1988, and 1992 Olympics.

Jim Schmitz coached Team USA in the 1980, 1988, and 1992 Olympics.

Coach Schmidt continues: "This error usually occurs when the athlete does not rotate his elbows rapidly. Work on Cleans from the Hang and the going under the bar exercise.  Also, the coach can verbally stress whipping the elbows around the bar quickly."

Jim Schmitz’s Going Under The Bar Exercise

This exercise teaches the athlete the timing necessary to complete the pull and to catch the bar in a low squat. Very light weights are used in the exercise with the emphasis on speed.

Starting Position

  1. Place the feet in the starting position for the pull
  2. Take the proper grip on the bar
  3. Stand erect with the bar

The Movement

  1. Two (2) shoulder shrugs, slow. Concentrate on the contraction of the trapezius muscles.
  2. On the third shrug, fast, quickly lift the elbows and go onto the toes.
  3. Shift the feet to the low squat position
  4. Rotate the elbows under the bar, catch it on the chest, and ride into the low squat.



The exercise should be done for 5 sets of 3 reps.

Lyn Jones

There are three causes of the barbell crashing onto an athlete. The athlete has an incomplete pull (sometimes referred to as ‘cutting the pull’) the athlete loses their lever by going up onto the toes too soon and, finally, the athlete throws their head backwards
causing the barbell to ‘loop’, destroying the timing and causing the barbell to ‘crash’ onto the lifters shoulders.
— Lyn Jones

Correcting this error can be done by three remedial exercises

Lyn Jones has been in weightlifting for 60 years as a lifter, coach, official and big-event announcer

Lyn Jones has been in weightlifting for 60 years as a lifter, coach, official and big-event announcer

  1. Power Cleans:  from both the hang position and from blocks, with lighter weights with the emphasis on rotating the elbows up and through and completing the pull and shrug with straight arms.
  2. Clean Pulls from three positions; The hang, The floor and from the blocks:  Have the athlete pay attention to their staying ‘flatfooted’ as long as possible and remind the athlete to keep their head still.
  3. RDL’s:  to strengthen the lower back and again, to re-enforce staying flat-footed.