8 Points to Consider When Fixing Your Snatch.

Posted: 16/11/2013 in English, Science and stuff
Tags: , , , , , ,


This comes as I see a post by Diane Fu talking about how the eyes contribute to weightlifting. And recently I have read several posts on what can be done to fix the snatch. So adding to what you probably have already read, here’s my list of 8 points to consider when you are looking to fix your snatch:

1. Grip

Your grip should allow you to comfortably get the barbell to your hips when coming up from the ground.

How narrow or how wide you go in your grip determines many other factors in your snatch. An example would be a narrow grip which means the bar sits lower at your hips when you are in the power position or fully extended. So slight adjustments to your technique to bring the bar higher and close to the hips are required. Fixing your grip also depends on flexibility and strength in your joints. Going wider, although allowing the bar to move into a better position at the hip crest, may be strenuous on your wrists and shoulders in the receiving position. Another issue with the grip is not having a full grip when setting up. This results in the hand being loose and possible friction against the bar which could result in gaining calluses easily.

2. Feet

Feet position will be a common question to the coach. How wide, how pointed out etc. Having them forward or barely pointing out would be a very general answer. If we look at individual differences, we then have to consider flexibility and lever lengths (this I mentioned when I spoke about the start position in a previous post). This will determine how you set your feet for optimal force production and stability. I will talk abit more about the feet in the next point about the toes since weight distribution is related to the feet as well.

3. Toes

Toes contribute to the understanding of weight distribution. If the toes are too active and you can feel weight moving towards your toes, you know that the centre of mass is moving too far forward. When talking about weight distribution, common points brought up include feeling your weight through the mid-foot, sitting back on the heels in the first pull, ball of the foot/flat-footed in the second pull etc. In my opinion and from a biomechanical perspective, weight distribution needs to be as centered as possible in order to achieve maximum stability. I’ll just post a question regarding balance. It’s hard to balance a pen on its tip right? Same for your feet. It’s hard to balance on your toes and more muscles need to work just to maintain balance if the contact surface between the feet and ground is reduced right? If more work is needed to maintain balance, less work can be done to produce force to generate a ground-reaction force (GRF) strong enough to move the weight effectively and efficiently (read the section about GRF here).

4. Shoulders

Position of the shoulders help cue the right positions to be held in the snatch. Keeping your shoulder blades back allow for the lats to be engaged and allow for a stronger receiving position at the bottom. Ensuring that this happens will prevent firstly loose shoulders in the first pull which results in losing the slack when picking the weight off the ground and subsequently have the hips shoot up too quickly. In the second pull, a poor shoulder position results in less force being transferred to the barbell and the barbell moving away from the body. Keeping the shoulders blades back even after initiating the second pull allows the bar to remain in a straight path when the hips “punch” the weight up instead of the bar being “punched” out of a straight path.

5. Head/Eyes

Looking down during the movements might not be a good thing as you will lean your body forward. Picture from David Lasnier Sports Training.

Our sense of balance is established through feedback from the eyes and ears. They provide information regarding what the horizon is and allows us to maintain stability through our muscular and skeletal system. In simple terms, where our head is directed, our body will follow (wise words from a wise man I know). Looking down or too far up will result in the body having excessive lean through the snatch. Therefore, correcting your focal point and keeping your visual focus at the right level will allow you to attain a consistent and stable movement pattern in the snatch.

6. Hips

When we talk about the hips in the snatch, we see it as the driving force in the body for the entire snatch movement. Many strength and conditioning coaches see the weightlifting movements as a good carry-over exercise to many athletic movements due to the violent hip extension involved. Yes. it is definitely hip extension involved but understanding the direction of force applied by the hip is important to have effective and efficient force production and transference. Treating this portion of the snatch as a romanian deadlift is a big no-no due to the fact that the hips are moving forward and not in a upward motion. One of the big factors to a snatch is vertical displacement and to drive the bar upwards, the hips need to be moving upwards, not forward.

7. Knees

Like the hips, the knees also contribute to force production through the legs for the second pull in the weightlifting movements. But many do not focus enough on the knees due to the excessive emphasis on the hip extension which as mentioned contributes to high force outputs. For the knees to contribute, the knees can’t be straight at any point until the second pull is completed. This basically means from the moment the bar gets lifted off the ground, the knees cannot reach full extension. This is to allow the knees to go into the transition phase and let the double-knee bend occur. With that, the stretch-shortening cycle allows for the quads to be utilised to contribute to force production in the second pull. This also means that in the second pull, it’s not only hip extension but knee extension which gives the violent upward propulsion of the body and barbell. So understanding how your knees move allow you to effectively produce force in the right (vertical) direction.

8. Bar

In the second pull, the bar needs to remain close in order for it to move in a straighter path.

Notice how the last thing to consider is the barbell. This is because if you focus internally on what your body is doing, you are making the bar move the way it’s supposed to move. It is afterall an inanimate object which requires you to manipulate it during the lift. More importantly, the one thing to consider regarding the bar is to keep it as close to your body as possible. If the previous points are taken into consideration and adhered to, the bar is going to be kept close to your body and eventually the bar will travel in a straighter path, making it move upwards more effectively and make the receiving of the barbell an easier one at the bottom position.

So when fixing the snatch, there are these 8 points I would actually focus on. Sometimes fixing one of them could result in fixing a few of the other points. Apart from the bar, the rest of them are not in any order of importance (each of them is as important as the others and needs to be addressed if they are an issue). They are equally critical to helping you achieve better movement mechanics in the snatch and subsequently better performance.

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