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What is a snatch and how to pull it out perfectly

If you had to imagine an extremely fast, powerful and strong athlete, your attention would probably fall on a weightlifter. Weightlifting is an Olympic sport represented by two categories of lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk.

The question then is: what is a snatch? The snatch consists of one powerful movement that makes you lift the barbell from the ground up to your head. This is a powerful gesture that denotes incredible strength and speed.

In order to make a proper snatch, you need to learn the technique behind its movement first. Mobility, speed, strength, stability and coordination are some of the key elements you need to focus on to learn the best possible snatch.

SNATCH

What is a snatch and why should you do it?

As mentioned, this lift is characteristic of Olympic weightlifting. However, you should know that there are many sports in which the snatch is taught during the athletic preparation phase. If you want to improve your sports performance, whether you are a rugby, volleyball or a basketball player, know that the time spent studying the technique of snatching will certainly be worthwhile.

Let’s analyse each phase of the snatch

Set up

Set up

SET UP

The approach to the setup of the snatch is a fundamental moment. In fact, errors at this stage will affect the entire movement. Position the feet in line with the pelvis to have the projection of the barbell above the centre of the foot. Bend your knees and pelvis and hold the barbell with a very wide grip. Keep your arms outstretched and straighten your back by bringing your pelvis down and pushing your chest out.

Throughout the snatch, keep your gaze fixed to an imaginary line in front of you, to facilitate the verticality of the movement. From this stage, many of the muscles involved in snatching are already active: flexors, quadriceps, back and abdomen muscles.

Pull

Pull

PULL

This is the phase in which the barbell takes up speed and reaches its maximum height. In the first phase of the pull, begin the lifting phase while maintaining the inclination of the back. As soon as you pass the knees accelerate the trend of the balance quickly reaching the triple extension of the ankles, knees and pelvis. This is where the second pull begins. End this phase with the third and last pull. Flex the arms and accompany the barbell as high as possible by lifting shoulders and elbows.

The receiving position

The receiving position

RECEIVE

And now the most delicate part that will make or break the snatch: the lock-in of the snatch in the overhead position. At the end of the pull, the barbell has reached its maximum height. From here, as quickly as possible, make a deep squat and lock the barbell in the overhead position thanks to the rapid extension of the arms.

The squat

The squat

SQUAT

Once the barbell is locked in the overhead squat position, all that remains is to go straight up as if to conclude a normal squat, ending the snatch with the vertical body and the barbell in a high line above the head. In this last phase, all the muscles of the lower limbs and shoulders are involved as strong stabilizers to support the barbell.

What are the commonest errors?

Now that you’ve learnt what is a snatch, you must pay attention to thecountless errors you may encounter when performing it, precisely because of the technical complexity of the exercise itself. However, some tricks can help you correct some of the frequent errors.

Not completing the movement

Not completing the movement

MISTAKES

Just watch a few videos on YouTube and you’ll immediately realize that the elite weightlifters are able to switch from set up to the interlocking position in an incredibly short time. For beginners, the search for this extreme speed sometimes leads to skipping a few key stages of the snatch due to too much haste.

Always remember that in order not to fail the lift you have to try to raise the barbell as high as possible during the pull. Be careful to fully extend your knees and pelvis before moving on to the interlocking phase. To work on the triple extension, learn the muscle snatch.

MOVEMENT

The movement remains the same until the end of the pull, followed by a rapid reversal of the position of the elbows that push the barbell upwards, finishing the snatch directly without going from the squat position.

Lifting the barbell far from the body

Lifting the barbell far from the body

BARBELL

Analysing the trajectory of the balance laterally, what should appear is an almost vertical line. Not holding the barbell close to the body creates a game of levers that determines the unbalance of the weight too far forward or backward making it impossible to interlock.

If you are familiar with this error, practice high pull snatching to learn how to control the trajectory of the barbell from the start to the end of the throw, keeping the barbell as close to your body as possible.

Do not wedge the barbell

Do not wedge the barbell

WEDGE

You’ve dedicated yourself to the care of the starting position, you’ve worked on keeping the balance close to you and now you’re juggling an excellent pull. Yet, during the interlocking phase, you always find yourself with the barbell that falls to the ground. It probably means that your weak point is the lack of stability in the bottom position. Shoulders, pelvis and ankles work in a chain and in the interlocking phase are all involved in the maximum range of motion joints, requiring a lot of mobility and stability.

Start again with lighter weights, to become familiar with the ATG (“ass to the grass”) position. This exercise involves pushing the barbell, placing it on your shoulders and then locking it into the bottom position of the overhead squat.

EFFORT

The barbell allows you to recall the rapid interlocking movement typical of the snatch. By eliminating the initial pull of the snatch – one less thing to control – you can focus on the “fall” phase under the barbell, while also working on the speed factor, which is fundamental to the snatch.

Are you ready to get in the game?

Probably all these notions seem too much complicated to you now, but during the Mighty class you can practice the snatch with various exercises that will help you to “break” the movement and make it easier to learn. Be patient and accept the idea that for your first lessons the stick – and not the barbell – will be your faithful training partner. Learning a gesture with the right technique takes time and effort.

Don’t focus on the numbers of plates added to the barbell. If learning snatch correctly will seem like a long and sometimes boring process, remember that correcting a wrongly learned movement will be even more complicated and demotivating!

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