Ballet to Barbell: Line of Sight to Make Movement Happen

One of the cues I often find myself giving to members in my classes is "eyes up" or "look here," usually pointing somewhere specific.

The body follows the gaze.

That's why when you watch dancers, they spot somewhere specific. This does two main things:

1) It keeps the dancer from getting dizzy.
2) It allows the dancer to land facing exactly in the direction that he or she wants to.

If you've ever taken driver's ed, or taken the motorcycle safety course, the instructor will also emphasize to always look where you're going, don't look at the ground directly in front of your vehicle.

Same goes for horseback riding. I was always instructed to look at my next jump once I landed from the previous one. (Yes, I took equestrian lessons. In addition to ballet lessons. I'm so white I'm translucent.)

Same goes for lifting.

The area I see this most often is in the Olympic lifts. Most people in the CrossFit world have heard that your next should always be neutral. We certainly hammers this in during discussions around squatting, pressing, and deadlifting. But then we get to the dynamic, fast Olympic lifts.

Like pirouettes, the Olympic lifts are fast and you need to set your line of site so that as you start changing directions your body doesn't go somewhere it's not supposed to. And a constantly changing line of site because you want to keep your neck neutral is going to do just that.

Where you put your line of site is somewhat up to personal preference. I like to have my clean and snatch view straight ahead, where as my friend, Diane Fu, likes promotes a higher line of sight. But what you will never see is a high level lifter start his or her lift with their eyes on the ground.

So if you have an issue with jumping forward, landing on your toes, or generally having a hard time meeting the bar, focus your focus and see how it helps!