Welcome back to Weightlifting Weekly and an early Happy Thanksgiving.  In keeping with tradition, something I am thankful for is the snatch.  This is my favorite lift, and for my body type one I will always excel at relative to the clean and jerk.  However, most of you readers out there will probably disagree.  It is without a doubt the more difficult of the two lifts, and for most crossfitters, tends to be an achilles heel.  Following will be a technical breakdown of the snatch by bar path.

-My very unscientific chart showing my observed community feelings with the snatch

Before I get into the in-depth analysis, we need to cover an important fact.  Everyone will lift a bit different.  For this reason, and that I love drawing them on whiteboards, I have used stick figures instead of pictures for this.  You are not a stick figure, so I assume you will not try to compare yourself to one.  The main goal of Olympic lifting is to be CONSISTENT.  We can always get better, but speed, force, and strength are all bred from confidence.  Confidence comes from repetition and consistency.

With that said, there are a few wickets one must hit while performing the snatch.  I will be covering what I consider to be the most universally accepted techniques.  Please understand that if you snatch 200Kg, then please continue to lift however you want.  Even two of the best coaches in the country disagree about simply extension vs a slight hyperextension of the hips.  Both have national champion lifters, both are correct.  With that I direct you to Picture A and B Below.


Picture A is a snatch bar path(red) overlaid on a straight line.  The most astute observer will see they are not the same.  While we want the bar to move as vertically as possible, it is just not possible.  The bar will sweep to the hips, and then slightly away during extension.  It will then come to rest over the lifters center of gravity.

Do not misunderstand, we want the bar to stay as close to our center of gravity as we can.  That sin wave of a bar path needs to be as tight as we can make it.  Here are the 5 wickets one must hit during the snatch, shown by my sweet stick figures (paint skills FTW).

  • Set Up: Knees out, touching elbows. Hips Higher than knees, shoulders higher than hips.  Shoulder Over the bar.  Weight center of the foot.
  • Knees move back and out of the way, torso angle does not change, weight remains in center of the foot.
  • The bar continues to rise towards the hips, at some point the shoulders need to start moving even with the bar as the lifter drives through the feet.** When the shoulders come back, how the weight is distributed in the foot will be very lifter dependent. For a casual lifter, this is by far the hardest part of the lift.  If you jump forward or struggle hitting a consistent power position, you likely pull your shoulder behind the bar too early and let your weight fall too far back into you heels during step 2.
  • Lifter Should be aggressively pulling under the bar
  • Lifter catches the bar in a lockout as feet hit the floor, bar being over the center of the foot.

Hopefully this simple breakdown of the lift is helpful to understanding what should be happening during each phase.  The biggest tip I can give you is having patience.  The snatch is mind numbingly difficult.  It takes hours to learn and a lifetime to perfect.

For my shameless plug.  I will be continuing to write about the snatch over the holiday months.  At the start of the next year I will be coaching a weekly class for 6 weeks that will be teaching and helping lifters of all levels improve their snatch.  Keep an eye out for details and keep lifting!

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