Five Common Reasons Misses Occur In The Snatch
Written by Hank Lopez

I want to cover five of the common mistakes or technical issues I see when lifters miss while performing the snatch. As we all know, this is a very technical lift and can give you a lot to think about, so I will also share some good mental cues to keep in mind while approaching the bar.

  • Shoulders and lats engaged. We talk a lot about the shoulders being in the back and down position. What we mean by that is once the shoulders are back, we now want to think about digging the pinky fingers into the bar; this will result in helping the lats engage. Without doing this, the lifter will have a hard time pulling the bar back into position and will often miss out front. While on the platform, you may hear me say “pin your shoulders back, pinkys into the bar”. Doing these two things will help the bar stay close to the body as the lifter begins to drive through the floor. So while approaching the bar, try to make a routine checklist of these two things.

  • Getting the knees back. Another reason which may cause the lifter to get pulled forward is when the lifter rips the bar from the floor at 100mph! The faster the bar leaves the floor, the more likely you are to miss positions. Some of you have the opportunity of me being your “super friend” and having you pause at the knee, cueing you to push the knees back, really feeling those hammies engage and as a result, the bar goes flying over your head. When we fail to push the knees back, the bar may travel around them, which will put you forward onto the toes. Romanian deadlifts and good mornings are movements you could add to your warm up before any of the Olympic lifts. These two movements will help you recognize how pushing the knees back will result in the recruitment of the hamstrings. So remember – slow is smooth, smooth is fast!

  • Finishing too early. This is a battle we all have to wage. As the weight starts to get heavy, it’s common to just pull under without ever reaching full extension. We all know the Burgener warm up piece “elbows high and outside.” Finishing early makes this position hard to reach. CJ shared a great cue with me, which has led to more consistent lifts. If we can get the “shoulders behind the ears”, it allows the elbows to go high and outside, and as a result, the bar path will remain closer to the body. We can practice this with one movement that often gets forgotten about – the muscle snatch.  In order to perform this lift the elbows must be high and outside, keeping the barbell close to the body. Remember, all the skill transfer lifts (e.g. muscle snatch and snatch balance) can be done with an empty barbell or pvc, depending on your skill level or confidence in the Olympic lifts.

  • Looking down in the bottom. There could be many reasons for this happening, mobility being one of the major ones. I am positive we’re all familiar with the term “neutral gaze.” To me, this means never staring at the ceiling while performing a deadlift or looking up at the bar during toes-to-bar. This holds true during the snatch as well. In the receiving position, if the lifter is looking down, we can safely agree that the risk of losing the lift directly in front is high. This is something that can be addressed at lighter loads by simply holding at the bottom of the squat and adjusting the head before standing. Another thing we can all benefit from is more mobility work to aid the overhead position. Keep in mind when the head is down, it becomes difficult to keep a proud chest.

  • Being in a hurry to stand. I see this the most when the lifter catches the weight on the toes. The fight to stand is almost instant and this frequently leads to the athlete running off the platform, shoulders rotating forward, along with other things we want nothing to do with. Catching on the toes can be an indicator of the barbell getting away from the lifter. A simple cue of staying back, or finishing “shoulders behind the ear”, may help fix follow on attempts. This could also be from the uncomfortable position the lifter may have with the overhead squat. Simply working more with a controlled descent and a pause at the bottom could assist with this. Try using a 32X1 tempo fir overhead squats.

Always keep in mind that patience is a key component of the Olympic lifts. There are so many things to think about during the progression of these beautiful movements. Learning one step at a time will pay off in the end. Meanwhile, adding some of the skill transfer movements and proper warm-up will aid in your proficiency of the snatch.