Snatch Setup Cues with CrossFit Invictus in San Diego

First Pull in the Snatch
Written by Gaje McDaniel

Did you know we can break down our snatch pull into three separate points – first pull, second pull, and third pull?

The first pull is when the barbell travels from the floor to our hip. The second pull is extension of the hip and driving upward on the bar. The third pull being the last time we are actually pulling on the bar and the last continuous effort to keep the bar going up as we are pulling our bodies underneath it. If we are missing good technique in any of these areas or positions, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Let’s address proper movement in the first pull of the snatch. This pull may seem simple, but there are many ways to make this hard for us. First and foremost – you have to have patience in this first pull. It can’t be too fast or it will mess up the upstream movement of the bar, which will most commonly result in the bar being left out front or not hitting full extension.

Here are some tips on how to perform the first pull.

  1. Establish a good setup. Shoulders should be slightly over bar, knees pressing out, and butt just high enough to feel tension. When pulling off the floor, the bar needs to be just over the mid foot or laces of the shoe. The first movement is to push into the floor with a full foot, not on the heels OR the toes. Check out Coach Bryce’s video: Weight Distribution in the Snatch.
  2. While the bar starts to rise, we have to start to get our shins out of the way of the bar to keep its path vertical.
  3. Once we reach the knee, the shins should be vertical and tension should be created in the hamstrings. During this part of the pull you must maintain the same torso position you started with. This means we cannot let our butt rise first or pull back with our chest. If you are an athlete who tends to shoot their butt to the sky as your first movement, you will soon notice our contact point does not allow the bar to stay vertical. You are hinging and mainly using your back to try and get the bar up.
  4. As the bar starts to pick up speed it is working its way to the high hang position. If we are “jumping” the bar up, many times we miss the extension to the hip. To gain the most bar travel, we have to not just “jump” but drive through the glutes which allows contact between the hips and the bar. This drive through the glutes allows you to reach full hip extension. Do not leave your chest over the bar, make sure you are working to get your chest back as you hips extend.

Here’s a great Floor-to-Knee First Pull Drill that you can try out. The best way to execute this is by putting a PVC on your back, along your spine; by using a belt you can simply slide it in so it stays. With the barbell in starting position, lift until you reach the mid knee. Lower the bar for multiple repetitions. It is important during this movement to not deviate in either direction, keep the back angle the same throughout. Have a coach or someone watch the PVC as you pull slowly to correct you if you are moving in either direction. The main goal is to keep the angle of the PVC the same while we clear the shins out of the way of the bar and reach the knee position.

Olympic lifting requires a lot of patience and dedication; if you want to be a good lifter, you must have good technique, and we all know technique doesn’t happen by itself. Start with no weight, master that, and then start to add weight little by little. Be patient with progress, and take the necessary steps to become better.

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Douglas Heeren
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Douglas Heeren

Actually, I would teach beginners to keep the shoulders behind the bar and to push offo f the middle of the foot, or you are forcing them to pull the bar in for the brush at the hip and jump forward into the receiving position. After the bar breaks the floor the first movement should be to push the knees back as the back begins to straighten. The snatch is semi circular motion. I would access some weightlifting videos on YouTube from actual Olympic lifters and coaches instead of people that took a quick weightlifting course to get a certification.