The Complete Guide to Snatch Movement Prep

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The snatch is at the top of the hierarchy of movement complexity. Snatching requires wide ranges of motion across many, many joints. Add to that the very dynamic nature of the lift, as well as the loads involved, and you get a movement that is unequalled in its demands for both stability and mobility. When preparing a movement preparation plan for this lift, you must cover all the bases. Common errors include: inadequate movement capability to achieve the correct starting position, lack of shoulder internal rotation in order to keep elbows over the wrists in the pull, and lack of shoulder/scapular mobility to achieve a good overhead position.

Obviously, the overhead squat is a very important part of the snatch. The overhead squat also happens to be a popular “assessment” tool used by coaches everywhere. The problem with that is the fact that the overhead squat really only tells us whether or the not athlete is capable of performing the overhead squat. We can’t draw any conclusions about things being tight or restricted from the overhead squat alone.

Check out these videos to get an idea of what I am talking about.

As you can see, if we change some of the positon, and add some stability we discover that the athlete is fully capable of achieving the ranges of motion that are required of the movement. However, when presented with the daunting task of performing the movement with out the added stability from the floor, and the correction in the breathing pattern. It may not always work like this, but more often that not it does. The problem is, if an athlete can not perform a movement then you need to do a pretty extensive evaluation and screening to determine what the real cause is, and if any lengthening is required.

Unfortunately, the number one thing that coaches do when an athlete can’t perform the overhead squat, is throw a bunch of stretches at them without any further screening. All hope is not lost, however. There are some things that you can do from a movement preparation standpoint that are going to apply pretty universally.

Remember when I talked about the lacking of shoulder internal rotation as being a major problem in the snatch? Stuff this in your sleeper stretch and smoke it.

Step A.

The first and most important thing that you must do when preparing to do the snatch is to correct your hip position. Anterior pelvic tilt is a fitness buzzword these days, and it is a real issue, but a large amount of people also have rotational issues with their hips as well. (Drift to the right in your squats? This could be you). As you have seen in the videos above, correcting your breathing will help to correct your hip and rib cage positions, which free up all kinds of range for you to use.

Start here.

I also really like to take my arms overhead, internaly rotate them, and just move them around a bit in this position.

Then progress to this

Glute activation is also key in maintaining a good hip position. Check out these drills.

Step B.

Movement without the aid of the floor in support. We move ourselves to the quadruped position. Here we can do some simple rockbacks to practice getting below parallel in the squat without losing our neutral spine. Then we can reach overhead and do the same thing. We use tons of drills in this position.

I also want to start working on my scapular upward rotation to aid my overhead position with these drills.

Step C.

Now that we move into the half-kneeling position, I want to start putting some things together. I am going to grab a PVC or bar and overhead split squat. This is going to simulate the overhead position while keeping one hip in flexion, making it much easier to maintain a strong overhead position. Then, to progress this movement, I will elevate the front foot with a plate or something to simulate a deeper overhead squat.

Step D.

Now we are ready to put it all together. This is my favorite drill for working on the overhead squat. It is incredibly useful for the person that has the “mobility” to get deep in the overhead squat, but flies way into extension to do it or leans way forward. It is very important to have someone watch you do this drill. Someone good too – not some wankster. It is extremely easy to cheat this movement, but then you don’t get any of the benefit.

All that is left now is to do some dynamic work. If you are doing all of your other movement prep, I am not a believer that many of the typical dynamic warmup drills that are really popular on YouTube are that important. For the most part, I would say that you are going to be better off doing your dynamic warmup with an empty bar, so that your dynamic warmup can be extra repetitions for you to gain practice.

And that is a snatch movement preparation.

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Ryan Brown is the head physical preparation coach and owner of Derby City CrossFit / DarkSide Strength in Louisville,Ky. Ryan’s focus is on correcting and perfecting movement/motor patterns to get the most out of his athletes. He has competed in CrossFit, Powerlifting, strongman, and currently Olympic lifting. His clients include; elite level power lifters, national level Olympic lifters, pro MMA fighters, college football players, HS athletes, CrossFitters, old broke people, and pretty much anyone else who wants to do something better.

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