In Coaching, Videos

June 29, 2009

Video Article

During his April, 2009 visit to the United States Military Academy at West Point, Todd Widman conducted a one-on-one coaching session with a cadet named Matt Feiden.

Matt is a strong athlete who plays slotback on the Army football team. He’s a solid performer on most lifts. But flexibility issues have led to problems with squat cleans. Todd coaches Matt through a session that tackles his weak point.

Todd begins by breaking down the move, step by step. He advises Matt to squat lower, explode up and bring himself under the bar, and then jump and shrug. He repeats the cue “chest and elbows up” several times, knowing that it will be a constant struggle for Matt. “You’ve got to fight down there,” Todd says.

Being fast is the key to the squat clean. Success has little to do with strength. After working with a PVC pipe, Matt moves up to 135 lbs.

Boz & Todd Episode 3, Part 4: 13min 14sec

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16 Comments on “Coaching Squat Cleans at West Point ”


wrote …

Great work again.


wrote …

I love Todd's intensity, especially when he says "take a step back," and it almost sounds confrontational. Did anyone else wonder if it might have been appropriate to encourage a slower deadlift to allow for focusing on tracing the leg during the first pull?


wrote …

Great coaching. Matt is built like a tank.


wrote …

I swear I learn more and more just watching these clips whenever they bless us with another one. These guys could possibly be the greatest coaches that I've ever seen as far as getting what THEY want out of every person that they are in front of teaching. Love it!!!


wrote …

Great coach... Very impressive.


wrote …

I really wish that I had not missed that day for a climbing competition.


wrote …

Tuff movement/lift for me, but now I understand the technique a lot better, I like the building block approach, great coaching.


Tracy Coughlin wrote …

How much do you just LOVE Todd? He is phenomenal!


replied to comment from Tyson Weems

Glad you and others like Todd's intensity. Stay tuned for part two of this video, tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 6, 2009.

Todd certainly can't be accused of going easy on Matt. Todd is polite, professional and encouraging, variously calling Matt "dude", "bro", "brother", and "Sir". But he's also demanding, insisting on strict form. Todd works on double-unders with Matt, then puts him through a workout that replicates a battlefield buddy carry. Matt gets nailed for poor form and has to repeat several reps. The workout is four rounds for time of:

Clean and carry a dummy the length of the gym; put it down; pick it up again; return to the starting point
20 double-unders
5 handstand push-ups


wrote …

Loved the breakdown. Todd does an fantastic job at teaching the skills as well as positive feedback. Reminds me to always give positive, encouraging feedback to my clients as well as correcting their form. Great job!!!


replied to comment from Tyson Weems

There's a lot of things Todd could have nit picked (including a slower deadlift), but the idea is getting someone to do the whole movement a lot better than before. There's still a lot of room for improvement...but what an amazing improvement Todd coached Matt through in just 1 session.

Gotta love Todd.


wrote …

Great coaching, as usual!

On another point ... Todd's shorts are proof that CrossFit men should be wearing shorter shorts. His are slit up a good 8" to allow functional movement. Isn't that what we're all about ... functional movement?!?

OK, I'll end my I-want-to-see-men-in-shorter-shorts rant, for now. Darned Michael Jordan!


replied to comment from Amy Crawford

Don't blame MJ for the out-of-control short length. It was the Michigan Fab 5 that took it to extremes. I referee AAU hoops, and I'm the only one showing any knee (excepting the other refs, parents and grandparents). It's just sad.


wrote …

RE: Consistency in your cues

I was confused at about 5:10 when Todd used 'up' relating to 'elbows up' followed by 'up' which meant 'stand'. We all knew what he wanted, but an athlete could get confused. I watched again, and Todd used 'stand' throughout the rest of the vid, but the double use of 'up' in minute 5 seemed to confuse Matt. At about 5:50 Matt actually stands on the 'elbows UP'.

RE: Visual targets
Using the landmarks in the room, such as the eyes on the edge of the mat, and elbows pointed at...(looks at that wall and identifies the right height) the window; both great use of the items in the space to orient the lifter.

RE: Long shorts and short pants.
Micheal wore the short pants. The Fab 5 wore long shorts.
Incidentally, they were about the same length, but no where near the same baggyness/tightness.

Great coaching. Great video. I learn something new with every new video.


wrote …

Just curious, I've seen it a few times in CF coaching vids now, why is the front squat taught as hips back versus hips down? It's hard to maintain an upright torso (as you see with Matt, his knees need to be farther forward) when you are trying to send your hips back like a lower bar/power squat. If you think upright torso, elbows up, hips down, the movement is a lot better. Of course the weight has to remain on the heels and maybe that is why some people use the hips back queue, but I find it confusing.


wrote …

Does anyone have any suggestions for improving flexibility in the upper body to allow him to get his elbows higher. I face similar challenges, and I'm wondering what may help improve that flexibility.

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