In Olympic Lifts, Videos

December 10, 2009

Video Article

At about 180 lb., James Hobart can snatch over 220 lb. He’s clearly a great athlete who’s ready for very specific criticism of his technique—and Olympic lifting expert Mike Burgener is ready to provide it.

But rather than overload Hobart with endless minutia, Coach B keeps it very simple during a recent snatch session. His main concern: Hobart’s bottom position. The athlete’s shoes contribute to some instability at the bottom of the overhead squat, and things get more wobbly because Hobart rolls forward onto his toes and swings his hips back to initiate the drive out of the bottom.

Burgener’s recommendation? A steady diet of snatch balances followed by overhead squats with a focus on driving through the heels and keeping the torso vertical. Given Hobart’s athleticism and power, the owner of Mike’s Gym believes the young athlete will be fully capable of snatching 275 lb. within a year if he improves his bottom position.

Video by Again Faster.

9min 45sec

Additional reading: Assistance Sequence for the Snatch by Mike Burgener and Tony Budding, published Sept. 1, 2007.

Free Download


30 Comments on “Coach B Corrects James Hobart”


wrote …

Interesting, especially because Greg Everett has been bitching about crossfitters only(or mostly or too much at least) doing the Low Bar back squat which uses that butt back initiation and he claims that crossfitters need to practice the high bar back squat to practice full knee range of motion and strengthen the quads in the drive. That seems to be the problem here.

Although I must say, that's a ridiculously nice snatch to me and a huge amount of weight, nice job!


wrote …

James Hobart is a BAD AS$! Hmmmm...275lbs is not the great Josh Everett's snatch somwhere around there, watch out next year Josh lol.



wrote …

Does anyone know what programs they are using for the video analysis? It looks like some standard stuff on a macbook, but I have yet to come across something that works that well for stop-and-start playing like they were doing.


wrote …


If you have Quicktime on your computer you can use that to analyze video. If you use the space bar you can pause and unpause the vid and if you use the arrow keys you can move through the vid frame by frame.

Good luck!


wrote …

Hey Pat,
I have quicktime, but it says I have to purchase Quicktime 7? What is that? I'm special when it comes to computers, ha.


Justin Riley wrote …

Those lifts looked great, 205 looked like a toy to you. You will be super stoked when you get some lifting shoes. You snatch 225 now in Vans? Holy shit dude.


wrote …

Very nice lift, and yeah lifting shoes make a HUGE difference even over flat soled Chucks, as James will hopefully find out soon.

Re: video, they are clicking start/stop, a better solution is to use VLC (free media player) so you can use actual slow motion to see the frames more fluidly. If your camera shoots 60+ fps it helps a lot too.


wrote …

James the real deal. I watched him last year at the Northeast Qualifiers. Stud.


replied to comment from Robert Kristjansson

James does the high bar back squat. I just got off the phone with EC (from CF Boston) who was sitting right next to James and asked him.


wrote …

And by the way, GREAT LIFT, JAMES!!

Great coach & great athlete. Thanks for the video.


wrote …

It was a lot of fun watching James at the NE Qualifiers last year. He's a great athlete. I look forward to loosing to him at this year's qualifiers.

Great work James!


wrote …

i have the same problem when i come up out of the OHS in the snatch - i feel like i have more push with my legs when i lean forward and let the arms angle backwards.

the reason coach B doesn't have to go over "endless minutia" is because james already has pretty good form - you don't need to go over details that are already taken care of. that and his body proportions and flexibility are ideal for good positioning. a lot of extra adjustments and corrections are necessary when that isn't that case, which is for the majority of people.


I would definitely agree that James has pretty darn good form to begin with however, I think there's a much more important reason for not going over "endless minutia". I learned a good lesson from my father when he was teaching me how to swing a golf club; when teaching a complex movement, never try and have a person think about more than one or at the most two things. My dad was a great golfer, D-1 scholarship athlete in his day and he learned over the years that people would just get overwhelmed when trying to learn really complex athletic movements if they had coaches telling them a million little things to worry about. If you just worry about the one most important detail, you can work it out and eventually move on to the next most important detail and so on.


wrote …

Coach B, you just forced me to be late for work, BECAUSE I HAD TO WATCH THIS FOURTEEN TIMES! Arrghh...

Great Stuff, this is priceless. Thanks for sharing your technique, James.

CrossFit San Elijo


replied to comment from Graeme Howland

+1 for VLC media layer (free)
I also use SMPlayer (also free)

I like SMPlayer a little more, but there's no good reason for that.


wrote …

Great technique James! Alex was talking about how sick your lifts were the other week when he was in Stamford and he wasn't lying. Great video gonna put some of those coaching points to use tomorrow.....and buy the shoes already!



wrote …

Or I just discovered that there is free software that can track the bar path like Dartfish does.

Warning, overexcited geek alert!

You know how in many Olympic lifting videos they show the lift from the side on and superimpose a wiggly line on the clip which traces the path the bar takes?
That's normally done using an application called Dartfish, which costs US$1000 for the basic version and does so much more than just bar path tracing that it's a minor feature.

Well after a year of searching off and one I've just found an open-source application called Kinovea ( that does some of the same thing.
Given a side-on video of an Olympic lift you can select the end of the bar and let the software track it for you and draw the path of the bar throughout the lift.
Dartfish will also give you data on bar speed etc, but for most of us, it's the bar path that is most telling.

I've uploaded a video I processed of Annie Sakamoto cleaning to YouTube.
Not even remotely criticising Annie's technique ;-) it just happened to be the first video in the Olympic lifting section of the mainsite exercises and demos page.

In this case all I had to do was select which segment of video I was interested in, click on the image of the end of the bar and tell it to trace the path, then save the resulting image.
The output file format is not a common one, but it's also not unusual and it's not hard to find something that will view it. YouTube sucked it up without belching.

I used the experimental 0.8.4 ( of Kinovea. The trace feature is available in the stable release too, but may not work as well?

I think that this is so cool!

Actually there is some ability to export data to spreadsheets for analysis, but I haven't explored that.


replied to comment from Jesse Gray

i agree with you, and i think that was coach b's intention

all the little details are not unimportant when trying to improve your lift. its trying to address too many of them at once that is counterproductive


wrote …

CF lessons AND video geek alerts! I LOVE it! Great video with great teaching.

Thanks for the kinovea info, too! Cool stuff!

To answer the question of what program they were using to step frame-by-frame through the video - I'd wager that it was Final Cut. Final Cut is available for Macs (and only Macs) and is a great, in-depth film and video editing software. I use Final Cut Pro in my everyday work/life and I can't stop singing its praises. For those of you who own Macs and aren't wanting to spend the dough on Final Cut Pro, however, Final Cut also makes a lesser version called Final Cut Express - It performs the basic functions of the Pro version along with some other perks without the huge price tag. It's worth every penny and I'd dare say it will do just about everything you're looking for in the world of CrossFit video.

Keep up the great work!


replied to comment from Craig Massey

Thanks for the tip on that software, going to try it out on some videos this weekend. Now if only my camera could do 60fps in 640x480, have to use 320x200 or something for high fps. I wish I had a 5D MKII.


wrote …

FYI Coach, James still hasn't bought lifting shoes. great video.


Kristopher Germain wrote …

James, it seems like waiting this long before buying lifting shoes must have been a conscious decision. is this true?

the reason i ask, is because i wrestle with the issue myself. i'm new to all oly lifting. i struggle with correcting an immature squat due to ankle mobility issues (which translates to issues with OH Squats an Snatches obviously). i know that lifting shoes would immediately correct much of my issue because it's like standing on a board and sidestepping that lack of mobility.

i guess my question for anyone with some authority in this area is, when do lifting shoes come into play? should i be proficient with these movements before thinking about lifting shoes? Does every CrossFitter need lifting shoes?

am i a purist if i don't want lifting shoes, or just foolish?


wrote …

I don't have authority in this area, but I can point you in that direction:

"Another pair of shoes to buy? Is it really worth it? Yes. Effective training yields superior results. Safe training yields fewer training injuries. The logic is inescapable."

If you are serious about your performance and safety, I would get them. No one complains about getting another pair of running shoes...hmmm....


Kristopher - get the shoes. Yes, they WILL help give you a better OHS/FS for the snatch/clean. Being in better positions means that you will be able to lift more, and also, be more safe.

As for the mobility question, we do still want you trying to work your mobility without the assistance of the shoe. So, wear the shoes to lift - BUT stretch, do mobility, work squat mechanics in bare feet!

I was in the same boat when I started crossfit. Mobility is a slow road that you need to spend a lot of time with; BUT we can still make strength/technique gains concurrently using shoes.

Can't really answer for James, but he does not have these mobility issues. His good mechanics allow him to snatch 225 in slippers.


Dyson! I think a purchase has been made; perhaps the idea of 275 finally sealed the deal.


wrote …

Using the Kinovea software mentioned above on James' lift.

Great video tutorial on bar path analysis here:


Thank you for your reply. sorry to return so late, i've been in hiking in Zion National Park. Thank you for the article. i've been reading a number of them lately.
Not to be a smart ass or anything, but i do question whether or not i need another pair of running shoes too. i've been going towards a more minimal approach regarding shoes and equipment so that the body has to do the work instead. examples of this would include:
Lifting Belt
Lifting Gloves
Running Shoes

my concern with the lifting shoes was centered mainly around my ROM issues. i didn't want to learn to lift with the shoes on, but then be crippled in the same movements without the shoes.

anyway, thank you. your info is helping me to piece it all together.


Thank you so much for the direct advice. i love it. one of my concerns was the order of events, but seeing that it can be done "concurrently" is very valuable.

one more thing. is it appropriate to work on squats, FS, and OH Squats in bare feet or chuck taylors, under load?

also, thanks for the encouragement. i spend a tremendous amount of time working on my squat so that i can improve my performance and be a model for my clients (instead of apologizing for my mechanics). seeing the mechanics of your squat now, gives me great hope.


Kristopher -

You can work the lifts in bare feet/chuck taylors, but know that the heel of weightlifting shoes allows for better torso positioning (i.e., more upright) for those who have lagging squat mechanics. For those WITHOUT any mechanics limitations, shoes still provide a more stable platform (e.g., James).

From what I can deduce of your current mechanics.... sounds like you should lift in weightlifting shoes.

Yup, I got "squat therapy" from Nicole at my first cert 3+ years ago. Still working on that perfect upright posture... but it does improve with some dedicated effort, keep at it!


Kristopher Germain wrote …

Thanks for the Christmas gift EC. You're the best.

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