Mastering the Snatch
by A.K. Samusevitch (1974)
translated by Michael Sheen
The study of the technique of lifting the bar to the chest (cleans), and the study of the press and the jerk precede and form a good foundation for the study of the snatch. Many of the details of the snatch, such as the start, the pull, the "explosion" (high pull), and the squat, are familiar to the trainee from the press and the jerk. The width of the grip and the work of the arms upon entering the squat will be new. Therefore, the study of the snatch must start with the mastery of the work of the arms, at first without dropping into the squat, and subsequently in conjunction with the drop into the squat. The mastery of the technique of the snatch is accomplished through the fulfillment of a series of snatching exercises, in the following sequence:
1 -- Snatch a bar of light weight, from a hang to overhead at straight arms, with a medium grip.
2 -- The same, with a wide (optimal) grip.
3 -- Snatching the bar to straight arms, with a drop into a squat, but without shifting the feet (in place).
In these exercises the bar is lifted from the starting position to a fully upright position, with the arms held straight downward, then, with a slight flexing of the legs at the knees, and with the body bent forward at the waist, the bar is lowered to the lower third of the thigh, and the snatch is executed. During the performance of these exercises, particular attention is given to the following points:
a) The correct trajectory of the movement of the bar overhead, which must take place as closely to the body as possible.
b) The speed and coordination of the movements.
c) The high rise on the toes at the end of the "explosion."
d) The rapid amortizing lowering of the heels,with the simultaneous completion of the straightening of the arms.
After the study of the snatch from a hang, the snatch with a drop into a squat is studied. But first it is necessary to determine the aptitudes of the trainees for each method. Dropping by means of the "split" method can be accomplished by anyone. To determine the trainee's abilities, squats with the bar held at arms' length overhead (overhead squats) are used. Having lifted the bar overhead to arms' length with a wide (snatch) grip, and having spaced the feet slightly wider apart than shoulder width, with the toes turned outward, the trainee squats as deeply as possible and then stands up. If the trainee completes this movement without particular difficulties, and if the bar is held at straight arms, it is advisable for this trainee to learn the squat style snatch. The trainees who do not complete the squat with the barbell overhead at arms' length should study the "split" style snatch. But this does not mean that those athletes who were unable to perform the squat in this manner at first cannot change to this style in the future, with the development of joint mobility. However, independent of the abilities of the athletes to do this or that type of drop, many weightlifting specialists recommend dropping in the split style, and, after the acquisition of firm habits. changing over to the study of the squat style snatch.
4 -- Snatch from the same position as in exercise 3, dropping the body by the chosen method.
5 -- Snatch from stands. At first the gripping area of the barbell is set at a height corresponding to the beginning of the "explosion" (thigh pull), then it is lowered to the normal starting position.
6 -- Snatch from the starting position, on instruction: in a half-squat, a full squat according to the technical rules, for a result, etc.
During the study of the drop into the squat in the snatch, the optimal position of the feet is also determined by each athlete, which allows him to make the deepest squat, and at the same time insures ease in rising out of the squat. To develop accuracy in the shifting of the feet when going into the squat, according to the determined squat position, it is advisable to mark reference points on the platform according to the direction and distance relative to the original position of the feet, the axis of the grip, and the center of gravity of the barbell, in the form of lines showing the shift of the feet, and the place of execution. In this instance the accuracy of the barbell's movement overhead acquires special significance.
While studying and developing the snatch technique as a whole, the greatest attention must be given to the correct rhythm of the movements, the completion of the movements with full amplitude, and to the well timed and rapid drop into the squat with the simultaneous straightening of the arms.
During training toward the development of the special qualities and high results in the snatch, special exercises are used, such as the snatch grip pulls for speed and height, one arm dumbbell or barbell pulls, squats with the bar OVERHEAD in the squat or SPLIT method, bends with the bar behind the head, lunges in the high pull position, and others.