I learned of the plate trick via Wikipedia, which states that this is a demonstration of the fact that SU(2) double-covers SO(3). It also offers a link to an animation of the "belt trick" which is apparently equivalent to the plate trick. Since I've thought most about the belt version, I'll phrase my question in terms of the belt trick.
I am not clear on how the plate/belt trick relates to the double covering. Specifically, I am looking for a sort of translation of each step of the belt trick into the Lie group setting. For example, am I correct in interpreting the initial twisting of the belt as corresponding to the action of a point in SU(2)? Which point? Do I have the group right?