Wanna know something hard to do? Getting really good at the olympic lifts is hard to do. What are the Olympic Lifts? The Snatch, the Clean and the Jerk. In this post, I will cover the snatch in pretty great detail, complete with videos. We will also provide several Olympic Snatch Drills for you. Let’s get started.
The Snatch’s Three Pulls
The snatch is commonly broken down into three pulls. The pull from the floor to the hang, the pull from the hang to full extension, and final pull with the elbows continuing into pulling yourself under the bar. We will cover each of the separately, but this video will give you a sense of where we are headed.
The First Pull: Floor to Hang
In the first pull, you are basically descending to the bottom of the squat to pick up the bar. Your back should stay very close to the same angle from the floor through achieving the hang position. By hang position we are referring to the point where the bar has cleared your knees and it just above the knee caps.
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The Second Pull: Hang to Full Extension
This is the most difficult part of the snatch for most people to master, myself included. It is so tempting to pull with the back. But proper technique has you pushing your knees forward and shoulders back before the bar begins to raise.
Once you have your hips forward and shoulders headed back, it is time to get the bar moving up, quickly. To do this, the shoulders are shrugged and the legs begin to extend. This should have the bar at or slightly above your waist, perhaps to your belly button.
The Third Pull: Combination of Elbow Pull and Pulling yourself under the bar
The third pull starts with a continuation of the shoulder shrug. As the shrug has left the bar between belt and belly button, the arms immediately take over and keep the momentum generated carrying the bar up as high as possible. A key point here is that the arms are just now, in the third pull coming into play.
Many “rookies” will bend their arms in the second pull, and some, even in the first pull as they take the bar from the ground. Functionally, it just feels right, but it’s way wrong. The arm’s, containing the weakest muscles available for the movement, just do what they can to polish off the lifting portion. They really can’t help a great deal with generating momentum with heavy loads.
Momentarily, the bar becomes, well, weightless. That’s right, as the arms finish all they can do, the bar stops at the crest of its ascent, and then will quickly start heading down again. It is during this very brief moment, that you will pull yourself down, literally using the bar to push yourself under it so that you are in position to catch the weight before it falls.
In pulling yourself under the bar, there is a need to reset your feet. In the snatch, they start fairly close together. As the weight crests, your feet need to replant, slightly wider in preparation for the deep squat catch.
Getting under the weight requires practice and a great deal of speed. If you aren’t fast enough, the weight will fall before you get down, typically leaving it out in front of your body and then crashing back to the ground.
Tips and Drills
And there you have it, the snatch explained in around 4 minutes of video. As a bonus, David provided us with some Tips and Drills for you when you are practicing your snatch technique. Enjoy!