A few cues on this part of the lift can aid in what’s happening at or before power exertion, meaning they can be used with heavier weights and within full movements as one of your three cues. Examples would be “aggressive feet” and “meet the bar higher.” For most, these cues will lead to more extension and speed/aggressiveness through extension.
As for the actual words, they will be customized for each athlete or for the fault that requires the most attention. For me, depending on how my mind is working on any given day, I might just fill my head with “tight” (from the floor) and “aggressive” (at extension). If I’m struggling with something, I might need to add that third focal point and be more specific with my cues. For a beginner I might say, “Slow, close, long”: slow from the floor, keep the bar close, and exaggerate the opening of the chest or the extension for a longer period of time.
Also make sure cues and triggers are not scrambled. They have to be in order; this keeps your awareness with the bar, where it should be.
Another concept I use for myself and as a coach on occasion is to think nothing. In many cases this works well, but only for one or a few reps. It’s also a little dangerous as this means you have no “mental shield.” If your head is filled with two or three things, all your energy is going into accomplishing those things. On the other hand, if there is nothing in your head, a negative thought or outside distraction can slip in and lead you astray.
It’s a process in itself to find the focal points that work best for you, and keep in mind that they will change as you change. But the more mobile you become and the more automatic your positions become, the simpler your focus can be.
A comment that seems to haunt my world: “Hey, coach. I hit a PR, but I’m glad you didn’t see it!” Maybe the athlete power cleaned it because the body hesitated to go to that unfamiliar depth, or maybe he or she pressed out or chased a snatch forward due to a bad lockout. I’m not impressed or happy for you. Sorry.
This is a process—a long process for many. Evaluate yourself and take it step by step, even if it means you have to go backward. This is about future potential, not immediate weight improvements.
On the other hand, I’m a proud and happy coach when an athlete tells me he or she is getting deeper, feeling more comfortable with the bar in the front rack or overhead, or finding proper positions feel natural rather than forced.