Ask Greg: Awkward Foot Position when Receiving Snatch & Clean
Rene Asks: How do I fix awkward awkward foot position when catching a snatch or a clean? The inner side of my foot is always first in the ground and my foot is also turned out too much.
Greg Says: The first task is to figure out why the problem is occurring. Three basic scenarios are most likely here. The first is that you’re actually misplacing your feet, i.e. you’re landing in a position that is inherently “wrong” and need to change the stance in which you receive the bar. The second is that your stance is actually not a problem, but you have some kind of mobility restriction that’s causing the feet to turn out excessively and the knees to move in, causing the inner edges of the feet to reconnect first. The third is that a mobility restriction is forcing you to land in that “wrong” stance.
If the issue is misplaced feet, you’re likely throwing your feet out far too wide, which will force your feet to turn out and rolling to the inside edges or landing on them initially would be naturally attendant to that. The first step to correcting this is to really cement a consistent squat stance with everything you do—your back, front and overhead squat should all employ the same stance, and you should be working on landing in the same stance for every lift you do—snatch, clean, power snatch, power clean and power jerk. On every rep in which you fail to receive in the correct position, adjust your feet and hold that proper stance for a couple seconds.
Next, spend more time in the bottom of your squats any chance you get. This means pause squats, at least in warm-up sets, and pausing in the bottom of your snatches and overhead squats and the like. Ideally you don’t hold the bottom of your cleans—but if the problem is severe enough, you may need to.
Finally, footwork drills and supplemental exercises that allow you focus more on foot movement should help. For the snatch, this will be exercises like drop snatch, snatch balance, heaving snatch balance, tall snatch, and snatch from power position or dip snatch. For the clean, you can use the tall clean, high-hang clean and clean from high blocks.
You can also use tricks like outlining your proper receiving stance in chalk on the platform and using that both as an external cue and also as a way to check your stance each rep. You can place thin rubber matting outside the outer edges of your feet, BUT this should be ½” at the most, should be placed wider than your actual desired stance, and should not be used with heavy weights. You should be able to make a mistake and land partly on the mats without injuring yourself.
If mobility is the issue, holding in the bottom of all of your squats as I discussed above will be helpful. But you’re going to need to really work on mobility on top of that. With the foot position and movement you describe, tight ankles are a very likely issue. If you have limited mobility in the ankles, it’s typical for the feet to turn out and roll in as a way for the body to circumvent limited dorsiflexion. I’ve written articles and posted videos with a lot of mobility work, so check that out, and remember it’s not going to be a quick, easy fix—stick with it consistently for the long term and you will see progress.