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Weightlifting Key Positions - Part Six

Putting It ALL Together - the SNATCH

We have discussed all of the key positions and “putting it all together” for the CLEAN, now let’s look at the SNATCH. The main idea here is that the pulling pattern for both the Clean and the Snatch are basically the same. This is one of our main teaching points brought up in the discussion about what should be taught first to beginners. The answer is really whichever the coach feels more comfortable teaching because no matter which is taught first, the other will be easily taught as a follow up. The similarities in the pulling pattern makes the transition from one to the other pretty easy.

That being said, let’s compare the Snatch of Lasha Talakhadze to our analysis of his Clean in the last article:

Start: In the Clean, there is a little rounding of the back, the angle looks good with the shoulders above the hips, hips above the knees and shoulders above the hips, and shoulders slightly in front of the bar. The focus is neutral and bar close to the shins. The key difference is the hip position when starting the Snatch. But I don’t believe that particular frame of the sequence is his actual start position. If the pic was taken a split second later, I believe you would have seen the hips higher before the bar actually left the floor and it would have been very similar to the start for the Clean.

Knees: In this key position, the similarities are evident. The bar is over the middle of the foot with the shoulders in front of the bar and head neutral. From this particular angle, you can’t tell if there is the early arm bend like in the Clean, but the arms actually look straighter. And, yeah, he still has that slight rounding of the back that isn’t ideal.

Power Position: Like the Clean, we still see that very slight early arm bend, his head is still neutral, eyes focused straight ahead and still flat footed. Note the difference in the bar placement at this point. Because of the wider grip, the power position is higher on the thigh. Also, he has a more upright torso position than in the Clean but is now ready to explode vertically. Like mentioned before, if the photo was taken just a millisecond earlier, the power position may have had a slight lean before getting into the position you see there.

Full Extension: Wow!! What a great full extension! The head is still neutral and the bar is staying very close to the body with no loop to it at all. At this point, there is a full, triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles.

Receiving: There is a lot of speed involved in going from that full extension into a strong receiving position. There is a bit more backward lean to get under the bar than in the Clean, but note that the bar is still over the middle of the foot where it belongs. The timing of meeting the bar is excellent! You can tell when you look at the red plate on the far side of his bar in relation to the window in the background. He meets the bar so well that there is virtually no “crashing” of the bar on the catch. Even after the catch, there are only a few inches before he is in the full squat. He has caught the bar “when it weighs zero”. One of the factors that helps with this timing is the fact that his feet “shuffle” out to the squatting foot position and he has very little “air” time. And, by the way, never let it be said as an excuse for big guys to say they can’t get into a good squat position. Lasha is 6’6” and 372 lbs – I’d say that’s a pretty darn good bottom position!!

Now let’s look at the Snatch technique of our own USA’s World Champion, Kate Nye! So proud of Kate for her gold medal performance and her technique and strength in the Snatch is spot on!! Not to mention IWF Weightlifter of the Year!

I really like coaching the lifts from the direct side. From that angle, you get a great idea of all of these key positions that we are discussing. You can see the body positions as well as the bar in relation to the body and the foot. There are a few things you can’t see, like early arm bend or shuffle of the feet too wide or too narrow, but otherwise, you can see a lot that has to do with the success of the lift.

Kate is showing all of the great key positions we have discussed throughout this series. It isn’t necessary to go over each of these positions at this point, but I can assure you, she is right where she needs to be!

One of the best parts of this photo sequence produced by Sport EdTV is the bar path or trajectory added in by DartFish. Let’s take a closer look at the bar path alone. It tells the coach a lot about whether the lift will be a success or not. Again, maintaining the correct key positions will put the body in the most advantageous positions to make this happen.

Right off the floor, the bar has travelled from the front of the foot (at the base of the big toe) back to the middle of the foot by the time it gets to the knees.

Then, as the bar shifts into the power position, the shoulders are still slightly in front of the bar and the weight has shifted slightly back toward the ball of the foot. The “jumping” foot position, if you will. It is important that she is still flat footed and not up on the toes, though.

Then, as the lifter gets into that full extension, the bar is still very close to the body, continuing on the vertical path with very little horizontal displacement. The whole time, the bar is over the foot and not in front as many lifters who tend to kick the bar out at this point.

This strong vertical extension allows for quick transition from top pull to getting under the bar quickly and efficiently. The timing of meeting the bar was virtually perfect. Note the hair flying – indication of great speed going under the bar. Also, note the bar has been met with very little drop after that top pull. Again, if you look at the height of the plates in relation to the windows in the background, you get a visual of how little that bar has come down on her for the catch.

Finally, at the catch, the bar was still directly over the middle of the foot for the best balance and support of that 112kg weight.

Bottom line is that the bar path was right on! It came back off the floor and stayed close to the body throughout with just a slight horizontal displacement going through the transition out of the power position to full extension. On the turnover, there was very little “loop” as she “pressed” herself under the bar. It was evident from the bar path tracing that the bar never lingered out in front of or behind the area of base that the feet provide.

Great technique coupled with great strength and power equals Gold Medals!! Congratulations to Kate Nye!

Special thanks to SportEdTV for providing the awesome sequence shots!! Victor Bergonzoli of DartFish has provided these and numerous other videos and photos so we can continue to spread the word about education of athletes and coaches!! Thanks so much!

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