Alrighty, back to blogging… It’s been a while! So, let’s cut to the chase and get to what this post is about: the Snatch. More specifically, it is one entry in a series of 3 articles where I will be going in-depth on problems that occur during the lift. The utmost goal of the Snatch is to pull weight from the floor to above the head in one fluid motion, and for our intents and purposes, receiving the bar in an overhead squat. Not too tough of a task when you have a piece of PVC in your hands, but load the bar with some poundage (or kiloage) and things get very serious very quickly.
In this series, I’m going to be reciting some simple corrective strategies for improving your Snatch based on certain breakdowns in technique and strength in different positions of the lift. Today, let’s break down the first pull (from the floor to above the knee), some things that can go wrong, and how to fix them.
FIRST PULL PROBLEMS
1. Coming up on the toes, or lifting the hips way too early.
This problem will usually lead to the bar swinging away from the body during the second pull/hip extension phase. This will lead to either a miss forward, or a chase forward to get under the bar. Maintaining active shoulders and lifting the chest at the set up position will increase the likelihood of the hips rising at the proper rate along with the bar. An outward rotation of the elbows throughout both pulls will also help keep the bar closer to the center of mass.
2. Rushing the First Pull
This is as much a symptom as it is a cause of the above problems. The purpose of the first pull is to gather momentum while preparing the bar and body for the violent hip extension and pulling that occurs at the second pull (knees to full hip extension/bar height). One of the first mistakes that lifters make is to want to yank the bar off the floor, thus pulling the bar way too hard and creating a suboptimal situation for the most important part of the lift. The correction for this is easy; when pulling from the floor, think “patience, chest up, drive the knees back.” Doing these 3 things will help put you in the best position to drive the hips into the bar and harness that momentum into an effective pull.
3. The hips are too low in the set up position.
This one is a bit tricky, as it tends to be an over compensation for correcting the two problems listed above. If the hips are too low, the weight will be pushed too far back onto the heels. Ever heard the phrase “getting caught on your heels”? This is not a very advantageous position to be in, as this will create poor hip drive due to a lack of balance from the onset. The shoulders should stay over the bar as long as possible, and sitting back too far will cause the shoulders to shift behind the bar. The solution for this is easy; shift the hips up a little bit more, and work on active shoulders from the beginning.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet of sorts to help you with your set up and first pull mechanics:
-Bar over the laces (Center of Mass) during set up position.
-Weight distributed throughout the mid-foot, not on the toes or on the heels.
-Hook grip (LEARN IT), wide hands, elbows rotated outwards, and shoulder blades pinched back and down (think like you are bending the bar around your shins).
-Valsalva Maneuver!!!! (Big deep belly breathe, deep abdominal contraction, and stabilize the spine… LEARN IT)
-Patient and strong off the floor… The battle is won or lost once that bar passes the knees, so don’t blow it by rushing the first pull!!!
So there you have it, some first pull problems, as well as some first pull solutions. The next post we will go over problems and solutions of the second pull!