Ask Greg: Hitching in the Snatch & Clean
Heather Asks: My question is about how to get better at the power clean or snatch after developing the hang position. I do OK when I go from the hang but when I try to go from the ground I struggle and end up hitching through the middle. What auxiliary exercises can I do to help develop my movements from the ground.
Greg Says: There are a few possible ways to try to fix this. First is to gradually lower the hang position so you’re incrementally increasing the distance of the pull while focusing on keeping it smooth and without a hitch. This might be in the form of a multiple-position lift, such as the first rep from your normal hang position (presumably right above the knee), the next from in front of the knee, and a third from below the knee (high shin). These small differences should help you not get as mentally wound up about the unfamiliar starting position. Over time, you can continue both spreading these positions out and lowering them, e.g. eventually doing the first rep from above the knee, the second from below the knee, and the third from the floor.
A different way to approach it would be starting the lift from the floor but making some adjustments to help set you up for a successful finish. The simplest way to do this is to slow down the first pull dramatically: about 3 seconds from the floor to the explosion position. This forces you to keep tension on the bar and body and allows you to time the lift properly. However, you need to be cautious that you don’t allow yourself to slow down or pause at any point—move slowly and deliberately to upper thigh, and then accelerate smoothly. The easiest way in my opinion to think about this is to focus on constant pressure against the floor with the feet/legs. That is, push against the floor continuously as you extend and never let off. As you get comfortable with this drill, begin gradually speeding up the first pull to your normal rate.
A final thought is that the hitching may be coming right from the start of the lift. Often people who are better from the hang than the floor are so because the lift feels heavy and slow from the floor. This causes them to either freak out about getting under it, or to try to rip it off the floor too violently (or both). A very sudden yank on the bar to get it moving often means the lifter has to slow it down before being able to accelerate it again higher up in the lift. Focus on separating the bar smoothly from the floor, maintaining tension the entire lift. One way to think of this is moving the body properly rather than lifting the bar. Often a focus directly on the bar will mean that the body moves improperly. If you move the body correctly, the bar will follow.