Get Cozy Down There: Improving The Snatch & Jerk Receiving Positions
Greg Everett

Something I can't stand is watching lifters with weak or inconsistent bottom positions in the snatch rush out of the squat and drop the bar partway up, even in power snatches (this applies to jerks as well). These same athletes will often also complain about missing big attempts that "felt so easy" because they can't secure the bar overhead long enough to recover successfully.

This to me is such an obvious fix, that having to remind people drives me crazy. If this describes you, easily the best advice I can give you is this: From now on, until you never drop a snatch or jerk from overhead unintentionally, hold every snatch, power snatch, jerk, power jerk, overhead squat or snatch balance in the receiving position for 2-3 seconds before recovering. And when you do recover, hold onto the bar for a second before you drop it.

I can't tell you what wonders this incredibly simple act will do for your lifts. You don't have to add new exercises to your program or more than a few seconds to each workout. You'll also find that this will expose a lot of instablity you may not have even known existed. So many lifters get in the habit of dropping lifts as they stand, and this masks imbalance or instability that then becomes extremely obvious when they're forced to actually hold onto the bar. Nothing like going to a competition and getting three red lights for a lift you made easily because you couldn't or didn't hold it long enough to get a down signal.

This applies to power snatches and power jerks too (even power cleans, really). Often athletes want to begin standing from the power receiving position immediately, which can frequently mean before they're actually done locking it out (or racking it in the power clean). This just makes it easy to get soft overhead and press these lifts out. Suck it up and make this tiny bit of additional effort, and I promise it will pay off down the line.

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Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, coach of the USA Weightlifting National Champion team Catalyst Athletics, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting, co-host of the Weightlifting Life Podcast, and publisher of The Performance Menu journal. He is an Olympic Trials coach, coach of over 30 senior national level or higher lifters, including national medalists, national champion and national record holder; as an athlete, he is a fifth-place finisher at the USAW National Championships, masters national champion, masters American Open champion, and masters American record holder in the clean & jerk. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, and sign up for his free newsletter here.

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Tom Brown III 2013-01-16
Very timely, Greg. Here is a perfect example: Fast forward to 5:25 minutes. It’s my second snatch-lift in the Team Connecticut/Crossfit Revelation meet held in Enfield, CT last week. After a successful first lift my arm inexplicably collapses on the recovery. The weight felt easy in the bottom position, I was shocked when the bar started dropping as I stood up. It was a real pisser.

Thanks to Coach Valentine for organizing this beginner friendly meet!
decathelite 2013-01-16
Good article. I was having problems with a weak receiving position until I started imagining holding a coin between each of my shoulders and my neck (i.e. active shoulders).
Rick DiCarlo 2013-01-16
Great article, Greg. This describes one of my big problems with the snatch. I will definitely implement this next time I'm working overhead.
Jin 2013-01-16
I'm having trouble keeping my right elbow locked out when I receive the snatch at the bottom position with PR weights. More often than not, after catching it my right elbow unlocks causing me to dump the weight. Will this help too?
Greg Everett 2013-01-16
Probably but I would also do some pressing / overhead strength work.
Matt Foreman 2013-01-17
Ditto to all of this. That full bottom position has to feel like home, and that only happens by spending lots and lots of time there.
Lee 2014-03-05
I've got a similar problem keeping my elbow locked on maximal efforts. In general I have a significant imbalance in my upper and lower body strength, being lower body dominate. Any suggestions on pressing / overhead strength work? Is it useful to dig all of the way down to doing isolation movements (triceps ext) Also, I've been following this site and several of your routines over the past two years and want to say thank you for making this quality resource available.
Steve Pan 2014-03-07
Lee -

Try starting with holding your lifts at lighter weights for longer in the bottom of lifts to see if that improves the strength of your lockout. Snatch balances may be another excercise to add to aid you in locking your lifts out as you squat under them.
Claude 2015-03-06
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Mitch 2015-05-30
Is holding the bottom of a clean deliberately left out?
Greg Everett 2015-06-01
Yes. Cleans should be done with a bounce unless there is a very serious stability or position problem in the bottom, and even then, I don't like it.
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