Time to improve your snatch! So let’s look at the most common queues I use with athletes of all levels who are looking to improve any of the snatch parameters. Snatch parameters include things like speed, mobility, acceleration, power, etc.
Let me also add, right off the bat, that none of these things are made up by myself. I learn from my coach of 7 years (John Margolis) and pass it on. I learn by researching work by Bud Charniga, and pass it on. I learn by watching what all sorts of great coaches say and think and pass it all on. Coaching is sharing information, which we should all do more readily if we want to advance the sport! Okay, enough rant, we move into the queues!
My 6 Best Queues to improve your snatch:
1. Stop pulling high and get low!
The power lifts are great to practice pulling high, but we find that most people instinctively pull high already! Improve your snatch by actually getting under the bar. Learn to get under the bar by queing yourself to get your body to pull down on the bar
2. Lead with your shoulders
The initial pull is where people seem to get tripped up when they get nervous, particularly at 85%RM and more. I like this queue because it keeps your hips from popping up. “Lead with your shoulders” means keeping the chest out and the spine as extended as possible through the beginning of the pull. If you are leading the movement with your shoulders, it also helps with keeping them covering the bar, which brings us to the next point…
3. Cover the bar
Well, this is nothing new, but if you set up a camera to watch yourself, you’ll see the mechanics of your movement with more clarity. No matter the level of the athlete, there is always a coach somewhere, yelling “cover the bar”! So, watching from a lateral angle, you’ll notice that your hip extends too soon, bringing your chest vertical earlier than is ideal. Remember that when the bar reaches the crease of your hip, you still want to have both the power of the knees extending and the hip extension! That means that the bar should be tucked in tight with the chest leaning slightly forwards until the last moment.
If you notice that you hit your pubic bone with the bar on the way up, it’s a good indication that you are not covering the bar long enough!
4. Lock the mechanism before pulling
Inconsistent at reasonable loads? This is another one for those of you anxious to pump out big lifts, but can’t seem to be consistent at 90%. Lock up your training mechanism by pausing, and quickly going through a mental checklist…
-Quads… Abs… hamstrings… glutes…lower back… upper and lats…
Then loosen your arms to be sure you can whip the bar around. By pausing and intentionally locking up, you’ll be tight throughout your pull. Make this a habit and you are guaranteed to become more consistent at those heavier loads!
5. Bring the bar to you
Bringing the bar in is the mechanics of a snatch means that at some point, the bar has lost contact with you. This is as it passes the knees and on most athletes, is slightly off the thighs. Rather than trying to shove your hips into the bar, you should be pulling the bar to yourself. This means engaging your lats, which perform shoulder adduction and extension. Pull the bar in, bringing it to you.
This ties in with #4, Your lats should be wound up, prepped to pull the bar horizontally into your waist, locked into position.
6. Train what you want to improve
There is no secret to lifting… this is what my coach, John Margolis, repeats over and again to his athletes. If you want to improve your snatch, then snatch. Stop box snatching, hang snatching and power snatching and focus on snatch. Considering the very low volume of training lifters are able to do in a week (or month), who has time to waste sets and reps on lifts that are not what you want to improve!? Accessory movements should be treated as such, something to add to training to tweak a few small techniques here or there, or to change up a boring program. Beginners, remember that you’ll need a solid year of repetition, 3 times per week, minimally, to really learn to snatch!