Cueing the Arms in Full-Body Movements

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Finding the right cues is always tough as a coach. Some way work universally for all athletes, while others fall flat with most. Then you have some movements where all it takes is one cue to correct the entire pattern. The next movement takes all the energy you have just to keep it safe; even when it’s still ugly. In most cases, though, the arms seem to be a tough fix. Let’s discuss…

Examine any full-body, athletic movement and you’ll notice a theme. Take a thrower of any kind (discus, hammer, shot) or weightlifters and you’ll see this common theme. The arms are relaxed fully until absolutely necessary to use in all cases. This is because the force created by the legs in the allotted time (power) must be transferred to the arms through the body. If the arms are tensed too soon, this dampens some of the total force created that needs to be transmitted to the external implement.

Loose arms!

Cue the cues! See what I did there? I believe there are two major cues that can massively impact the success of a heavy, full-body lift (deadlift, snatch, clean, etc.) that a strength coach can positively affect. Those two cues are “drive the feet” and “relax the arms.” Of course, there are many variations of these two cues that can work, but they’re the main cues that I use with my athletes. I discussed using minimal cues for maximal results before and I believe these two cues help correct many movement and timing errors.

Why do these two cues work so effectively together? “Drive the feet” is cueing the feet to create pressure against the ground and, in turn, allowing the legs to create more force that will be returned from the ground (Law of Action-Reaction) through the body to the implement. All the while, the arms are relaxed enough so that they do not dampen this force being transferred through them that was created by the lower-body. Make sense?

Remember, the longer the legs and hips can be used before the arms come into play, the better. However, that is not to say that the arms are not important and do not need to be used; they just need to be used at the appropriate time and with the appropriate amount of force and direction. I think we’ll save that for another post, though 😉

How do you cue the arms, if at all?

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