The Snatch

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Coach’s Corner

With Gregg Sutch


This movement is more often dreaded upon than anything else but it really is a great movement, I promise you – you just have to learn how to love it.

What we’re going to talk about today is how you can improve the snatch by tackling a few areas – mobility, strength, & technique.

If you’re one of those reading this & thinking, “I suck at snatch because my shoulders don’t open up” then you should be focusing on your shoulder mobility first and foremost. It definitely makes the snatch a lot more challenging than it needs to be when you’re constantly fighting for a good position once the barbell is overhead. Prior to taking on this lift, take a few minutes to perform some shoulder mobility drills such as – PVC pass-through – side-lying windmills – puppy pose hold – ask any coach for some recommendations they might have for you in order to open the shoulders up a bit more

This is more a short & quick fix before a lift which is only good for exactly that – a short & quick period of time. Stay on top of your mobility almost daily & over the course of time, you’ll start to reap the benefits which thus leads to greater comfort in the overhead position.

Another common factor as to why some of us struggle with the snatch is we lack the strength in that overhead position. The good news is that this is an easy fix. If you want to get stronger shoulders, load your shoulders with weight. This can be done in so many ways such as –

– single arm DB overhead carries – dual or single arm DB overhead holds – DB presses – snatch grip presses – anything where you’re spending time under tension with a barbell or dumbbell overhead. For some of us, we have the mobility + the strength, but we still can’t get our heads wrapped around how to do the snatch or we just don’t like the lift, at all. That’s fine, but we’re going to change that. The technique really doesn’t have to be complicated so let’s break it down. 1) Stance – set up your feet inside of where you would normally have your feet for a squat. Your feet will more than likely shift out a bit once you transition under the bar so if you set your feet up too wide to begin with, you’re going to look like a starfish once you transition under the bar. Pro tip: your feet should be set up in the “smooth” part of the barbell.

2) More hinge, less squat – when you’re setting up on the bar, you shouldn’t be squatting over the bar to the point where your knees are actually going past the barbell. Focus on hinging more at the hips & having your shins in a vertical line. Pro tip: you should feel your hamstrings turned on when you’re in this set up – if you only feel your quads burning, you’re squatting too much.

3) Using the hips – if you like to grip it & rip the barbell from the ground straight to overhead, this will eventually catch up to you where you can no longer move heavier loads. This is a poor application of power because you’re using all arms. If you never feel the barbell actually brush off your quads around the pockets, then you’re not effectively using the power we get from the hips. Think about the kettlebell swing for a second – are you extending your hips aggressively to get the kettlebell to swing or are you using all arms to get the kettlebell overhead? Hint: it should be your hips. Next time you go to snatch, think about bumping the bar off your quads around the pockets then quick overhead. Pro tip: if it feels light, you’re doing it right. If it feels like you’re really having to muscle it up, you’re probably using all arms. 4) Move under the barbell – too often we see athletes trying to press the bar overhead, in a snatch grip, & it looks really, really bad. How do we fix this? Move yourself under the bar. As the bar is going up, you’re moving under the bar. The faster you move yourself under the bar, the better it’s going to be. The heavier the bar gets, the less time you have to move under the bar.

5) Speed – this is an Olympic lift & Olympic lifting is a beautiful combination of strength & power. Biggest thing you want to remember when it comes to speed is – speed = distance divided by time. In other words, you are trying to move the barbell from the ground to overhead in as little time as possible. The biggest thing that slows people down isn’t actually the barbell itself, it’s your brain. Far too often, we think about every single little thing that’s happening in the snatch that we are actually slowing ourselves down. You know how to snatch, keep it simple, focus on one thing whether it’s speed, hitting the hips, catching in a good spot, & do the damn thing. You got this.

You have a great coaching staff that will be more than happy to help you out on improving this lift so it might be a personal training session that you consider taking up with a coach. If there’s snatches in the class workout, don’t avoid it because you don’t like it or else it’ll never get better. If the prescribed weight is too heavy & you’re moving too slow, go a little lighter & make it the perfect lift. Technique > load.

Happy snatching everybody!

– Coach Sutch