I feel like yelling 'heels' is the most overused cue given by coaches. 'Sit back on your heels', or 'Catch the weight on your heels' are all cues that are used when they shouldn't be. I am going to do my best to stay calm, but this cue is just dumb.
Having heard this cue for so many years of my weightlifting career I just believed it was something I was supposed to do. Yet whenever I caught a snatch or a clean I knew deep down that my weight was not as far back in my heels as it could have been. I didn't tell anyone because I was doing just fine and didn't want to have to relearn the pull and the catch all over again. After a few years of lifting I thought about it more and more and realised how catching a snatch far back on your heels is just idiotic. It doesn't make sense. And here's why...
When we catch a snatch we want as much scope as possible to be able to save the lift in case the pull was slightly off. If we under pull it we need to be able to shift our weight to our toes to catch the bar, and then either settle with it or stand up and take a few steps forwards. If we over pull the bar and are about to lose the bar behind us we need then and only then to shift our weight back and rock onto our heels to save it.
So with these two possibilities, an over pull and an under pull, and then of course a good pull, where is the safest place to catch the bar? In the heels where we can only save good lifts and under pulls? In the toes where we can only save over pulls? NO! In the damn mid-foot!. It winds me up that new weightlifters are being told to catch weight in their heels. Just because you don't catch it in your heels doesn't mean you catch it in your toes.
When you catch a lift on your mid-foot you have SO MUCH MORE CONTROL over the balance of the lift. You can make micro corrections, pushing the bar back ever so slightly by pressing your toes into the ground.
When you catch a snatch you should feel some weight on the ball of your foot. This feel gives you some feed back. That feeling on the ball of your feet is like a gas pedal underneath you. You can push against it more to shift the weight back, or you can barely push against it if you catch it right. Catching on your heels leaves you with nowhere to go, you just end up unable to balance perfectly and are more likely to lose the bar behind. Catching on your heels is like a balancing act. So stop it... please!
So if you want more chance of saving a lift catch it on your mid-foot! If you can find a side-on slow mo HookGrip video of a professional weightlifter catching the bar really far back on his heels (and i mean genuinly back in the heels) that didn't do so in order to save an over pull I may retract my statement. But I won't, because they don't.
Damn I got annoyed writing this one. STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO CATCH THE WEIGHT IN THEIR HEELS AND SIT BACK!
YOU DON'T EVEN DO IT EITHER!