Developing the Clean and Snatch

DSCF2468A few weeks ago, Tim Benjamin, the former GB 400mt runner [44.56secs] and Olympian came back to Wales, and hosted a strength development workshop at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff concentrating on developing the clean and snatch.

Following a very successful athletics career, Tim has now branched out into the fitness industry and now owns and manages several gymnasiums in the Ascot and Windsor area.

Tim 1

Tim Benjamin 44.56secs

Here is the film of the workshop which highlights the development of the clean and snatch. Tim and his colleague John Pye are working with members of my training group.

All the group have never done any work like this before. We’ve been concentrating on body weight exercises, along with the development of plyometric training and complex training using medicine balls as the resistance….

They are all in the early stages of skilled learning but I felt it was time for them to begin to learn those essential movement patterns that underpin the Olympic lifts. It is my intention to introduce these lifts into next years training programme…

Please excuse the poor sound quality in the first few minutes. This was filmed on a very busy training night at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff, BUT, it does improve…..

Hope you enjoy the content,

Speak with you soon,


NOTE: Below are the links to Tim’s gymnasiums in Ascot and Windsor….

Every rep and set count

Nigel Lewis Dec 2014Every rep and set count..

As a coach you plan your training programmes and training units very carefully. You adhere to the simple training principles of overload, adaptation progression and specificity. You know where you going and relay those thoughts to your training group. You have a clear pathway. You assume that everyone involved is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ – or are they?

You present yourself at training 3 to 4 times a week. You explain and rationalise the training unit to be done that evening and how it fits in with the overall training programme.

You check for understanding. You have ensured that ALL the group know why they are doing a particular set of reps and sets. You are ready to go…..

BUT, some of the group still don’t understand that EVERY rep and set count. Vast coaching experience has governed and rationalised the number of sets, the number of repetitions and the recoveries between sets and reps I give to my training groups….

I’ve coached for a long time and still have athletes in my training groups who DON’T understand that every rep and set count.

  • They are the group members who always ask even before the warm up ‘What is the session this evening’…
  • They are the group members who always ask ‘how many are we doing’ – then roll their eyes or exhale explosively when told a number that doesn’t agree with them…
  • They are the group members who always slow down 10-15mts out from the end of a running rep…
  • They are the group members, who in the competitive season don’t understand why they haven’t improved….

I suppose it’s just human nature and some athletes are just built like this.

I ALWAYS mentally grade every member of my training group at the end of every training session. I don’t write it down or tell them..

It’s something I picked up from the old East German philosophy of training. They were assesed on a 6 point task application rating from 0 to 6.

0 being trained poorly, to 6 which meant that they trained incredibly well with great mental and physical application…

But, if an athlete in my group continually gets low gradings at many training sessions I do have a quiet word with them…!!!

Any thoughts?

email me at:

Speak with you soon,

All the best, Nigel

PS: Working hard on my film with Tim Benjamin on the teaching of the ‘snatch and clean’. It will be about 15 minutes long. Should be ready next week.

Strength Development Workshop [1]

PracticeBelow is the introductory video from the Strength Development Workshop held at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff on Friday February 13th 2015.


A more detailed video, showing my training group working with Tim will be on my website soon…

This video will highlight the methodical development of both the ‘clean and snatch’…..

Speak with you soon,

All the best,




Fouling in Long Jump

NewsletterFouling in Long Jump is a source of great frustration for both coach and jumper. I regularly get emails from coaches asking me what can be done to ensure that their jumpers cut down on foul jumps.

It’s a problem the whole world over. Jumpers will foul and will continue to do so.

That’s why the approach run is so important. I’ve dealt with this in previous posts…[see link below]

Let’s assume that the jumper has arrived at the board ‘safely’ and with no great loss of horizontal velocity…..

I work a lot on the the placement of the take-off leg on to the board – TOUCHDOWN….

I want them to ‘firm the take-off leg’ prior to its making contact with the board. The can’t wait until the foot has landed – it’s way too late, and there will a flexing behind the knee and a lowering of the mid-point resulting in a low trajectory/flight path….

This tightening up of the leg muscaluture must be initiated at the apex of the last stride to the board. If the whole leg is firmed up, it will, up to a point, resist some of the forces acting downwards on to the board.

IMPORTANT: The take-off foot must be placed in front of the mid-point [see photograph below]. At touchdown, the placing of the foot on to the board creates a braking effect and stops the lower torso from moving forward BUT the upper body keeps on moving forwards. Failure to place the take-off leg/foot in front of the mid-point will result in the creation of unwanted forward rotation.

last stride to board

The Last Stride to the Board. Mid-Point ‘behind’ take-off foot.


Also, jumpers tend to be rather lazy at touchdown, One of the major reasoms why they marginally foul is that they don’t push and pull…

They must, just prior to touchdown and after pushing their foot down, to pull the foot backwards  – the ankle back sweep. This is a skill, but a very important one and must be practiced and practiced until it become second nature to the jumper.

It’s all about the timing in the placement of the take-off foot on to the board. They have to be very active and not just run through. They have to understand and think about it….

Speak with you soon,



Coaching in a ‘bubble’…PLUS Coaching Update

I coach out of the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff. See the photo below…

NIAC 2015What you see in the photo above is a competition BUT even on a normal training evening it gets this crowded and leads to problems. With the cold weather at the moment everyone wants to train indoors.

One of the major problems are the ‘hundreds’ of middle distance athletes using the 200mt track. It’s like a scene from Ben Hur..!!

If you coach outdoors [and many coaches and their groups do] you can coach without distraction. But indoors you are ‘cheek to jowl’ with other coaches and their groups. You really have to step up to the plate because of this [tongue in cheek]….

Training plans written up, best kit on etc….!!!

Some coaches are not comfortable with this type of coaching scenario and are somewhat inhibited.

My training area can be seen above – just by the sandpit at the bottom. I have a 6 lane entry into a huge sandpit which really helps with my jumpers who are at different stages on the skilled development learning curve…..

What are my training group up to at the moment?…….

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NewsletterWhat Makes a Great Coach?

“I’ve been coaching and teaching for well over 40 years. I think that along the way I’ve gathered enough knowledge and experience to  be able to coach effectively – or have I?”……

I read a very interesting and thought provoking article recently that outlined 35 secrets that make an average coach become a great coach….

While superior knowledge of the sport is a cornerstone of a great coach, it takes so much more than content and procedural knowledge to be a great coach or teacher. Simply because a person has great knowledge of the sport  does not mean they are a great coach…

Great coaches…[click to read 35 secrets!!]

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Teaching + Coaching + Repetition = Learning

Nigel Lewis Dec 2014I saw this quote recently…it really resonated with me.

The importance of repetition until automaticity cannot be overstated. Repetition is the key to learning. – John Wooden

But first – who was John Wooden?:

John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was a very famous American Basketball  coach. Wooden was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his “Pyramid of Success”. These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball.

Training can be repetitive which could lead to boredom. Young athletes need repetitive practice especially in those all-important early stages of learning….

Your training group should be made to understand that the learning of essential body movement patterns takes a lot of time and a lot of patience and perserverance from both athlete and coach.

This teaching/coaching process could last for several years, so both athlete and coach need to establish an understanding and rationale about the importance of the early stages in the training process.

I’m sure that many of you know and understand the 3 stages of learning..

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“When should a young athlete be given a prescriptive training programme?”

Newsletter“When should a young athlete be given a prescriptive training programme?”



In the UK we have 4 definitive junior athletic age groupings. They are [11-13; 13-15; 15-17 and 17-20]…

These correspond to the year groups in high school: 11-13 would normally be years 6 and 7, 13-15 would be years 8 and 9, 15-17 would be years 10 and 11 with 17 to 20 being years 11 and 12 and 1st year college.

Having coached athletics for over 40 years I wouldn’t recommend a rigid prescribed training programme until the 17-20 age grouping. If young athletes can survive past the 15-17 age group and are still motivated to train hard and compete, only then can you really begin to plan for the future.

These ‘survivors’ have decided that athletics is going to be their chosen sport….

  • I see the 3 earlier age groups as the teaching and learning periods and they should be treated as such. Too often, I observe many younger athletic training groups being coached intensely at too young an age.

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Landing Drills

J7I’ve been looking around the countless YOU TUBE clips for ideas. Many of the drills I find wouldn’t fit into my ‘coaching box. But with a few tweaks here and there would be suitable somewhere along the teaching/coaching learning curve – just to emphasise a coaching point.

Here’s two landing drills I found yesterday. Make up your own mind….

I have used, and still use these two drills with my own subtle modifications..

All the best,