First coaching cue I am going to give you is upper back tightness. This is one that I really have struggled with myself. As you get under the bar, you need to focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. During this time you should be pushing your shoulders into the bar. A third part of upper back tightness is squeeze the bar down with your hands. If your are both pushing into the bar with your shoulders and attempting to bend it with your hands, there is no way to be loose.
The second cue is that of core tightness. Most lifters know to get and hold their air in, that’s nothing new. What you should be looking for is where is the lifter holding the air? The air should be held in the stomach and not the chest. This is often a beginner mistake that can cause the lifter to be unstable. When watching you should visibly see the stomach fill with air, the chest should not move. You should use that air to press against your belt to help keep your core tightness and body stable.
The third cue, “knees out” is an obvious one, but it is not as simple as it seems. Too often I see beginner lifters start to flare their knees out as soon as they start to squat. This is a mistake, and will cause you to bend and not reach depth. The knees should not start to flair until about midway down, and need to continue to stay out as you transition before the bottom of the lift upward. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between knee tracking and knees caving in. That is a topic for another article and a big reason that a knowledgeable coach is so important.
To sum things up, the biggest coaching cues are sometimes this simple ones. Unfortunately I run into the above three issues all the time. If you are working on the above three cues you will be on the right track to solid squat form.