Olympic Lifting for Football

Clean CatchOne of the most controversial topics in football training is whether or not to perform Olympic Lifting for football players.  Everyone seems to agree that technique is absolutely critical, but there seem to be differing opinions as to what is acceptable.

There really isn’t a black and white answer here, so opinions and experience are often used to justify programming decisions.  Poor technique, such as shown in the picture below on the left, is often allowed and kids get injured.  The picture-perfect technique demonstrated by the USA Weightlifter on the right is usually not seen at the high school level.

Many coaches believe that, because they used them in high school or college, these lifts are an absolute must.

Poor Clean Form 2Other coaches look to their favorite college program for advice.

Corey Twine, a football strength coach at the University of Michigan, is considered one of the best Olympic Weightlifting coaches in the country and he happens to coach at one of the most successful football programs in the nation.  He has gone through extensive training and has presented technique at clinics around the country.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to him about Olympic Lifts for football programs, and it’s interesting to hear what an expert like this has to say about the topic.

Coach Twine has taught Olympic Lifts at both the University of West Virginia and the University of Michigan, and is very skilled in this area.  Even with all of his experience, and his personal passion for the lifts, he is quick to point out exactly why he believes most high school coaches should choose alternative exercises.  He also gives advice on the steps you should take if you plan on using the lifts in your program.

This is a great video to watch if you have questions about whether or not to use the Olympic Lifting for football training.

You may feel very strongly about using, or not using, Olympic Lifts in your football training routine.  Either way, listening to an experienced professional like Coach Twine will help you gain a better understanding of the topic.

Headshot B & WJim Kielbaso is a former college strength coach and a co-founder of  He is the author of the book Ultimate Speed & Agility and is a featured speaker at clinics around the country.

3 Responses to Olympic Lifting for Football

  1. Tony Gunter August 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I am not sure what the purpose of the video is. I also know an athlete that broke a wrist recently at a large university with a very well respected strength coach. I personally take care of my weight room and have been trained in teaching weight lifting. Have not had a serious injury in the weight room in 10 years. Most college strength coaches want to teach all their own techniques anyway, the red shirt program allows them plenty of time to get an athlete ready for the field.

  2. Jim Kielbaso
    Jim Kielbaso August 11, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    I thought the purpose of the video is to make sure that coaches either take Olympic Lifts very seriously or don’t do them at all. It seems like you feel the same way and take them very seriously. So, why don’t you understand the purpose of the video?

  3. Adam Blalock October 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Well said and a lot of people need to hear this. I’ve competed at WL since 2000 and have also been an S&C coach at the collegiate level and high school level. What many high school coaches are doing, despite good intentions, is detrimental to the kids. Coach what you know. But then again, football coaches know everything!

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