In an overhead squat, your goal is to get low while maintaining the bar directly above your head. If you have to make sure your client can perform the Snatch well, then the overhead squat will be a vital component of chunking (the system of coaching, where you break a motion down into parts and call them exercises). The carryover can be seen in the movement known as the Snatch.

Olympic Lifting Snatch

The overhead squat is a chunked movement to improve the snatch

As a Performance Specialist, you will know that the FASTER system for improving this – CSS – could eventually lead you to the foot. CSS is the system of –


– Trying to upskill the person by making them aware of their movement. Using visual feedback with an app like KinesioCapture could be the key way of educating a client on the movement you want.


– Using the HMAC – or your own system of answering the key 15 questions about the bones, joints and muscles – to identify missing motions causing a movement that does not appear skilful.


– Strength, Power, Range of Motion, Joint Shape, Joint Angle, Previous Injury….

Many people miss sequencing and focus only on coaching, and then structure. However, in order to identify the structure to work on, or look at, you may well need to look beyond, as it is likely to be hidden in the sequencing. This means that the foot and ankle is the place that could hide a problem, as the lack of movement at that joint will require motions elsewhere in the joints to take up the motion. Due to the levers in the foot, in comparison to the levers at the joints above the foot, (the foot having short levers that move a small degree for the many degrees of hip and knee motion in the same movement), often a joint further up in the chain will move a lot or in a different plane to make sure that the skill can be performed.

If a joint has a small amount of motion available then it is very difficult to see when it is missing motion. If a joint has a large range then it is easier to see a change in how it moves. If a joint with small motion loses 1 degree of its 2 degrees of available motion, then the result could be that the  joint above picks up or loses up to 50% of its movement too. 50% of 150 degrees is significantly easier to see, than 1 degree. To compound this, when you add in a skill, then you are asking the client to still hit the distance of the movement, so some joints or planes will pick up motion, some will lock down and the problem will be hidden in a joint that does not have much motion in the first place!

This leads us to the foot and ankle, and the five things that could be costing you the range, or the form in the deep overhead squat, with straight arms above head.

1 – Forefoot Equinus –

A plantarflexed midfoot, that reduces the amount of dorsiflexion you can get into. This would be a positional problem, and then may be able to show you a full range of dorsiflexion to plantarflexion range of motion on a bench, but they will not be able to make the position of dorsiflexion required. Often missed by people who check ankle dorsiflexion on a table.

2 – Rearfoot Compensated Varus –

This means that the calcaneus is misshapen and so when your foot is on the floor, to get the heel down, then the full or part of the motion of eversion is taken up. This can mean that the forefoot is also into its range of inversion. Essentially the foot is pre-loaded by position and so when you start to squat low, the foot needs to take up space to allow dorsiflexion. If one side has already gone some way in to the movement, then that side will not show a full range of motion and so a compensation of more motion in the chain would be the result in the end range of the squat.

3 – Plantarflexed First Ray (fixed or semi-rigid) –

Here the side with this issue would be showing a lack of dorsiflexion, as the subtalar joint and the midtarsal joint will not be able to access the space at the arch due to the position and rigidity on the 1st Ray preventing the motions.

Often these movements are structural, but due to regular movement with this lack of motion, the client will learn to avoid certain motions which may have a knock-on effect of the client tightening up into these compensations.

Here is a video of the squat for Olympic Lifting…

If you want to really see the detail of movement, then you need to do one of our Specialist courses, either in Functional Performance or Functional Therapy. For the very best price to do these courses, then you need to contact

Jake on 08455 191615

in the UK, or

John 303 249 7288

and ask about which course would best meet your needs and how you can best to acquire this Specialism.