Common Hang Snatch Mistakes in the Set-Up and Pull
by Julianne Russell
The snatch is a great movement that builds strength, athleticism, and requires full mobility. It’s a very intimidating movement to some, but once you grasp that it’s simply a straight, quick pull overhead, it becomes much easier to perform.
We start all athletes in the hang position to master bar path and descent. Here are some common faults in the hang snatch set-up and pull, and fixes to correct them.
Fault #1. Grip Width Too Narrow
Watch for a narrow grip, often lifters will find it strange or uncomfortable with a wider grip and continue to pull it in. A grip that is too narrow will force you to have to pull the barbell to a higher height, making the rep more difficult. As the grip narrows, mobility demands for the shoulder also increase. On the other hand, a grip that is too wide will lose grip and lat strength.
Corrective → Stand tall and walk your hands out along the barbell until it sits at the crease of the hips.
Ideal position is for the barbell to sit in the hip crease.
Fault #2. Toes Forward, Feet Wide
Make sure the feet are no wider than shoulder width to start, with a slight turn out of the toes. Often feet are narrow or wider than need be. If the toes are turned forward the bar typically gets pushed away from the lifter on the pull. Balance over the midfoot and vertical path of the barbell are crucial defining factors in a lifter’s stance for the overhead position.
Corrective → Point the toes at slightly on your setup and ensure the feet are under the hips.
3. Squatting, Not Hinging the Descent
Always enforce a hinge with the hips, keeping the knees behind the toes on the descent. When lifters get overly “squatty” on the descent, the trajectory of the bar will be more horizontal than vertical. This is one of the more common mistakes in beginners who are quad dominant. They want to squat everything and overuse the knee joint. Pull the hips back as the bar descends down the legs, and flare the knees out over the shoelaces.
Corrective → Focus on bending at the hips, keeping the knees back and out. Pretend like you are trying to hit your butt on the wall behind you.
By pulling the hips back we create what’s called the Triangle Position, the pocket of space between the hip and elbow and where all of our power gets stored.
4. Straight Arms on the Pull
The pull can be the trickiest element for new lifters. The tendency to keep the elbows extended and swing the bar out like a kettlebell swing seems natural, but creates exceptional horizontal displacement that is no good. When the bar displaces outward, we have to jump out to receive it, losing efficiency and taking ourselves out of a stable receiving position, or “chasing” the bar down.
Corrective → Pull the elbows up towards the ceiling, like a puppet with strings attached to the elbows.
Pulling up creates a vertical path and more efficient position.
BONUS: Addressing Immobility
New lifters will often lack the mobility to maintain a stable or extended overhead position, especially if a deep squat is attempted. Often times the balance required to keep the barbell centered over the traps is enough to move a lifer to single arm dumbbell snatches. When deciding if the snatch is for you, the PVC Overhead Squat Wall Test is the best place to start. The ankle, wrist, shoulder, and thoracic mobility required for catching and stabilizing in the overhead position for any barbell snatch variation, must be achieved before moving from dumbbells.
PVC OHS Test
To move from the muscle snatch to the hang power, hang, or full lift, lifters will need the mobility of their ankles (maximum ROM and flexion required), hips, and shoulder girdle assessed and approved via the PVC Overhead Squat Wall Test.
How to Perform:
- Holding a PVC pipe on snatch grip overhead, the athlete should stand no more than six inches away from the wall.
- Descending with weight over the midfoot, the athlete squats to a position of full depth and holds at bottom for 30 seconds.
- Return to standing on coach’s command.
Requirements to Progress Beyond the Muscle Snatch
The athlete must be able to easily accomplish the following:
- Squat to a position of full depth (right image) without movement disruption.
- Hold bottom position for 30 seconds to prove stability and control, with weight placed over the midfoot and not the toe.
- Rise up in the same controlled, disruption free manner.
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