Ask Greg: Can't Receive the Snatch Low with Heavier Weights
Greg Everett

Steven Asks: I'm teaching myself the snatch, with your videos and book, and have a technique question. With a stick or empty bar I receive the bar in a decent squat, but as I put weight on the bar, or as I get tired, I receive higher and higher. My lift turns into a power snatch unintentionally. I'm lifting half my bodyweight, and can do overhead squats with the weight, or actually snatch a dumbell as just as heavy. Any advice on correcting this? Thanks.

Greg Says: If you can sit into a good overhead squat without weight, it’s clear flexibility is not the problem (although it may very well not be perfect—if not, keep working on that). This kind of thing is nearly always the result of a lack of confidence under the bar; that is, you’re simply not allowing yourself to pull under the bar (probably unconsciously) because you’re not convinced you’ll be able to support it.

The most basic thing you need to do is spend more time in the bottom position. Warm-up with overhead squats and snatch balances. Stop power snatching intentionally and only do snatches. The times when you do power snatch unintentionally, squat it after you receive it. Hold the bottom position for two to three seconds every time. The idea here is not just to prepare you physically for the receiving position, but mentally to make it so routine and comfortable that you never think about it or hesitate to put yourself there.

If and when your overhead squat is sound and comfortable, begin doing more snatch balances. Force yourself to receive them in as deep of a squat as possible. Do this by using a slow, smooth dip and a minimal push with the legs—just barely enough to give you time to get under the bar. Focus on the speed of the punch down under the bar, not on the leg drive. Again, hold the bottom position for two to three seconds every time. In your case, I would make the goal overhead squatting and snatch balancing at least a few more kilos than what you can presently snatch (or power snatch). For people who don’t have the problem you do, often the snatch is heavier than either of these exercises. But for you, pushing your ability in the exercises should help with your confidence in the snatch.

You can also use some snatch variants to emphasize the pull under the bar such as high-hang snatches, tall snatches or snatches from high blocks (e.g. mid-thigh). Focus on an aggressive pull with the arms, elevating the elbows as much as possible before turning the bar over. This will allow you to really feel the acceleration down under the bar and make it routine rather than something you have to focus on during your snatches.

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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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AlexUA 2015-12-24
Thanks, Grag, have the same issue, now I know on what to focus
Piet 2015-12-25

Sorry if I am missing something obvious, but how does one get to ask Greg a question? Are these questions picked off the forums?

My jerk footwork is godawful and I thought I'd like to ask.
Mike Phelps 2015-12-25
Timely article for me
I just started the starter program after doing a transition from strength training program (70s big). Before that I did SS with power cleans. Snatch technique was getting decent but I think the power snatch/clean day may be reverting my technique away from the full squat movements.
Question: should I drop the power movements all together since my snatch technique is still developing (sucks)?
Antonio 2015-12-26
Hi Greg,
I've the same problem of Steven, when I also force myself reaching the bottom position with a heavy weght, I can't bear it: my heels go up, knees in valgus, the bar falls ahead. According to you: should I work on mobility or something else?
It depends on whether or not you have the same problem in an overhead squat or just in the snatch. If it happens in your OHSes, it's a problem specific to that position and motion, and you likely need both mobility and stability work. If it happens only when you snatch, it's because you're putting yourself in a poor position during the lift and need to correct that.

Greg Everett
Antonio 2016-01-01
Yes, it's also a OHS problem. In general I've problems in bottom positions whit a push upward (a correct sotts press is nearly impossible to me, even with an empty bar).
Thank you very much Greg
No problem.

Greg Everett
Viviana 2016-08-28
Hi, this article really help me to knwo what was the problem. Thanks.
I got another question, recently I bought a new pair of weightlifting shoes, the chinesse ANTAS, and before I was using a pair that was made in my homecountry they had a low heel but the antas have the heel maybe like 2 or 3 mm higher than the ANTAS. Now I have a problem, when I do snathches, the heavy ones, I tend to loose them because I feel they get too up front. I do not know how to get used to my new shoes. I feel soooo frustrated.
Can you help me?
If it hasn't been long since you switched shoes, I'd say just give it time - it's hard to adjust to new shoes. I've worn the same ones for almost 10 years. Higher heel will make you tend to be a little farther forward in the pull, BUT it does not force you to be - you just have to get the feel for balancing over the foot in the same way you did before. Work on snatch pulls or deadlifts and keep the pull to mid-thigh relatively slow so you can feel and correct for imbalance. You can also do a deadlift/pull + snatch complex with the same focus, or slow-pull snatches, etc.

Greg Everett
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