When holding the barbell, you need to feel three points of pressure in your feet… big toe, little toe and heel. Balanced. If your center of gravity shifts too much in one direction or the other, then you’re likely setting yourself up for failure as you’ll be forced to compensate somewhere. When the weight gets heavy, you’re likely to start falling forward during the first pull off the floor. You can’t allow that to happen. You must remain balanced, and the closer your hips are to the bar during the movement, the less likely the bar will be pushed forward by your hips at the top of the pull. Keeping the hips closer to the bar basically means they’re more likely to extend, instead of swing; and, that act of keeping your hips close the bar starts by first being well-balanced.
When hook-gripping the bar, you can magically keep your lats and upper back tighter by slightly flexing your wrists and turning your knuckles down toward the floor. With knuckles down and lats turned on, you can better keep the bar close to you, over your base, allowing you to control the bar and not letting it control you.
Get the Bar to Your Hips
If the bar isn’t touching your hip during the pull, then you’re never going to lift heavy weight. You just aren’t. And furthermore, the bar should hit your hip and THEN you extend fully… don’t try to extend before the bar gets there. If the bar hits your legs each time, then you’re destined to always have a weak snatch. If you need to, widen your grip as wide as necessary to put the bar on top of your hip bones while standing. Not getting the bar to your hips is the most obvious and easiest thing to fix to improve your lift. From there, you must finish the pull with a powerful hip and glute action, finished with the quads via a drive through the balls of your feet.
Stop Using Your Arms… Well, Kinda
One of the easiest problems to develop in the snatch is not figuring out how to move the bar exclusively thru use of your lower body, and instead, using your arms as the prime mover. When just beginning, you should think of your arms as ropes, just hanging onto the bar. But, as you progress, you need to know that your arms actually do a lot. After you explode at the hip with your lower body, you should be pulling on the bar to pull yourself down underneath it, faster than just dropping. Again, you should control the bar, not let it control you.
The explosion at the hip and aggressive lockout are interconnected. The act of exploding and pulling under is the most explosive thing you have ever done and should be treated as such. It is all one motion and it’s maniacally aggressive, and it all helps make the lockout or catch that much easier because every muscle in your body is tense when it happens.
Keep the Bar Close to Your Face
Everyone knows that looping the bar around you is a technique flaw. We want the bar close to our chest as we transition into the bottom of the snatch. If you’re jumping vertically and even slightly “backwards” at the top of your pull, then to stop the looping bar, think about keeping the bar close to your face as it passes by. In general, we want the bar as close to you as possible anyway. The closer the bar is to you, the less you have to fight gravity.
Open Your Wrists
At the catch of a snatch, you should bend your wrists back so the bar is in your palms and not resting on your thumbs. In other words, you shouldn’t be holding the bar in a position to perform an overhead press, with straight wrists. That shift of the wrist also means you’ve shifted the position of the bar, so it’s likely closer over your heel or midfoot, not in front of your foot.
There are many more tips we can write on the snatch, so consider these just a start. We didn’t even dive into another common error we see – locked knees during the pull – but, that’ll have to wait for another post. We’ve given you enough to chew on for now. Happy snatching.