The Snatch.  When done right, its a thing of beauty.  When done wrong, its a thing…well its just ugly…and frustrating…yet addicting.  Even though they are incredibly difficult, or maybe because they are, CrossFitters are addicted to the Snatch.

Mistake #1:  Rushing the First Pull

The first pull starts on the floor and finishes somewhere around the top of the knee or mid thigh.  The truth is that it is not a pull, it is really a push.  You are suppose to squat the bar up or push the floor away to stand.  To achieve this, you should be set up with your chest high and the legs loaded like you are in fact doing a squat.   See the picture below.  The hip position in relation to the knees will change depending on your build.

snatch lowstartPosition

The first pull is should put you in an optimal position to accelerate the bar once you are above the knee.  The acceleration of the bar below the knee does not have as large of an impact on the weight you can lift as you may think.  The bar will actually slow down slightly above the knee as lifters transition to explode in most high level lifters.  Again, the main purpose of the first pull in the Snatch is to put the bar in the optimal position once the bar is just above the knee.

Most of us who CrossFit have a tendency to yank the bar off the ground with all our might instead of purposely pushing against the ground to position the bar in the best place possible to Snatch it.  When we yank on the bar, our weight will shift too far forward and our hips will rise.  This will cause the bar to move away from us and to shift the majority of the lift to our back, instead of our quads/hips.  If you have a tendency to bang the bar off of your lower quads, I’m probably talking to you.  If the bar is always too far away from you, I’m probably talking to you as well.

So how do we fix this?  BE PATIENT!  Focus on keeping the first pull smooth.  With just a bar or light weight, practice going from the ground to just below the knee.  Make sure to keep your chest up and to keep the weight in the legs, instead of just the back.  This will take some time and focused energy to change.  Remember the reason for the first pull.  Only move at a pace that allows you to be in the right position for the second pull.


Mistake #2:  The Big Toe

As we pull (or push) the bar off the ground in the Snatch, the weight should shift in our feet.  It’s not a dramatic shift, but there is one.  When the bar is on the ground, our weight should be mid-foot to ball of the foot..  As the weight moves up our shin to the top of the knee, the weight should shift back to mid foot to heel.  As we jump, it will shift back to mid-foot to ball of the foot.

Rolling up onto the sides of your feet is a common occurrence.  If you have solid footwork, this isn’t a problem.  If you CrossFit and you only Snatch once every two weeks or once a month, this can be a problem.  Bad footwork leads to inconsistent/bad lifts.  When you roll up onto the side of your feet, you can become unaware of where the weight is in your feet.  This can lead to inconsistent foot work.


So how do we fix this?  The big toe.  Yes, the big toe.  If you keep the big toe down on the ground, it will help you keep the weight mid-foot instead of just the heel and make you more aware of pushing into the ground to move the bar and load the hips.  Practice with lightweight and focus on the where the weight is in your feet.


Mistake #3:  Posture

I commonly see people miss lifts forward at CrossFit SOAR.  I know there are a lot of reasons for this.  One reason I don’t here often is the lack of posture at the bottom of the overhead squat.

Look at the picture below.  See how his hips and shoulders are in line?  This keeps his posture straight up and down and makes it easier to receive the bar in the Snatch.  Ever feel that a lack of shoulder mobility leads to your problem in the Snatch.  Look at the picture again.  His shoulders are in the same position at the bottom of the squat as they are in the top of the squat.  Still think it’s your shoulders?



Now look at this picture of CrossFit Games Competitor Valerie Voboril.  See how her hips are behind her shoulders?  See how much more strain are on her shoulders?


So how do we fix this?  Mobility.  I said it.  Do mobility…every day…including your rest days.  Better mobility leads to better positioning which leads to better lifts.  Go to MWOD and find what works for you.  Just search squat or snatch.  The second and often forgotten about fix is strengthening your spinal erectors.  Deadlifts, Kettlebell Swings, Pulls, Back Extensions all help.  The missing link for those of us who CrossFit is Barbell Rows.  Specifically Pendlay Rows.  This exercise will strength the whole back and build in positional awareness.  See the video below.  Sorry for the quality.  I figured it would be best to here about Pendlay Rows from the man himself, Glen Pendlay.

Next time you Snatch, keep these tips in mind.  Hope it helps you PR or at least be more aware of what you are trying to accomplish while you Snatch.  If you have any questions about Olympic Lifting or are looking for one-on-one help with the lifts, email Dave at

CrossFit SOAR is a CrossFit Affiliate serving Bergen and Passaic Counties, including the towns of Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hawthorne, Paramus, Ridgewood and Wyckoff.   At SOAR, you will finda an inclusive community offering more that a workout;  we’ll provide you with a CrossFit Family.  We provide a range of programs, including traditional CrossFit, Boot Camps and Kid/Teen fitness programs.  The first class is always free, and there are never any long-term commitments.

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