Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.
Defending the Hang Clean for Athletic Development
I received plenty of feedback on the first installment of this article called “Three Tips to Help Your Athletes Master the Hang Clean.” It seems that many Olympic lifting purists didn’t like a few of the coaching cue’s we give our athletes’ at Donskov Strength and Conditioning. One particular cue/technical aspect of the lift came under heavy scrutiny. The hip rock! In defense of our use of the hang clean and its application to athletic development, I have come up with the following list. Below is a list of why we do what we do: defending the Hang Clean for Athletic Development.
1.) Training Population: To steal a line from the great Coach Dan John (I have altered the wording, but the thought process is similar): We train hockey players that lift weights, NOT Olympic lifters that play hockey. Simply put Olympic lifting is a tool that helps us create powerful athletes NOT the next Olympic champion at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio every Spring.
2.) Stretch Reflex: Our athletes’ hip rock. All dynamic movement starts with an eccentric muscle action and is immediately followed by an isometric and concentric contraction. Weather your skating, running, cutting; turning or sprinting our job as coaches is to maximize power! Many of the Olympic lifting purists argue that this is cheating the lift by adding a “stretch reflex” to the movement (eccentrically loading the glutes and the hamstrings). My response to this: it ABSOLUTELY is! That is the essence of sports like hockey, football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball ect! From a physiologic standpoint, wouldn’t this simultaneously also act to excite the muscle spindles and inhibit the GTO (Golgi tendon organ, depending on load used)? If so this is a great recipe for force development and the RFA (rate of force development).
Stretch Reflex - Golgi Tendon Organ Reflex = Force Production
(Courtesy of Triphasic Training, Cal Dietz)
3.) Power: Sport is about being powerful! Sport is about high velocity and high speed. Many traditional strength based exercises (squat, bench press, dead lift) are considered high force, low velocity movements. The addition of Hang Cleans in our Athletic Development Programs fits this mold of high velocity. It also allows our athletes to learn how to absorb force, which is of key importance in collision sports.
We have had great success programming the Hang Clean into our Athletic Development Programs at Donskov Strength and Conditioning. The key for us has been consistent cuing and methodology coupled with constant exposure for our younger athletes. There are other forms of exercise that tax the CNS in similar ways that can also be applied if previous injury prevents proper ability to produce quality movement. In the end, our goal is to produce powerful athletes, not impress the judges at the next Arnold Classic.