“Finish Your Pull!”
We have all heard this shouted from coaches and athletes at meets, on the training platform, or in class WODs. Failing to “finish the pull” in the snatch can results in missed lifts out front, jumping forwards in the catch, and overall hindered performance and progress, leaving both coaches and athletes frustrated and confused.
When coaching fitness athletes, weightlifters, and college team the snatch, I often have found the finish to be one of the hardest aspects for them to grasp, leaving me shouting (SCREAMING, not shouting…) at them to “FINISH YOUR PULL”! Like many coaches and athletes, I was left at a loss, until I sat down to analyze the tapes to determine what truly could be happening, and how to actually solve the problem (rather than just tell them what to do and hope for the best).
In this article we will break down four faults that may be leading to premature finishing of the pull in the snatch, and offer coaches and athletes “technique-driven” exercises to address the issue.
What’s Going Wrong?
While no two lifters are the same, premature finishing in the pull of the snatch can be a resultant of any one (or more) of these common faults.
Getting Pulled Forward
When looking at premature finishes in the pull of the snatch I often find that the first pull (the success or failure of a sound first pull) plays a large role in the technical fault (not always though). If a lifter at anytime approaches the second pull/transition in an imbalanced position, such as getting pulled forward, the overall mechanics and timing of the pull can be thrown off. In the case of a great first pull, they may be prematurely finishing because they have stopped driving with the legs and failing to bring the back angle vertical. In both instances, I have found it very beneficial to incorporate snatch pulls and snatch high pulls into snatch complexes to pattern balance, timing, and full opening of the hips in the snatch.
- Snatch High Pull + Snatch
- 3-5 sets of 1+1 / 2+2 repetitions at 60-80% of 1RM
Early Arm Bend
The arm bend has been a topic of many heated debates in the weightlifting world, with coaches and athletes both making valid arguments for and against. Generally speaking, bending the arms in the snatch is not conducive to maximal performance, however there are some athletes that may need to have a slight bend for anatomical purposes (longer limbed individuals who may have to literally break at the elbows to “pull” the bar up higher to fully finish and maximize the pull, athletes with injuries that minimize their ability to extend elbows, etc). More often than not however, many beginner and intermediate premature arm pullers are hindering their performance, often to compensate for other mechanics/weaknesses.
Poor leg drive can affect an athlete’s ability to stay straight through the arms if they feel they do not have enough leg strength and explosiveness to accelerate the barbell without them. Additionally, poor balance in the pull can affect a lifter who early arm bends in that when they get pulled forward (or falling backwards for that matter) in the pull, for whatever reason, they may begin to compensate and regain their balance by “pulling” on the barbell. Breaking of the arms places more emphasis on the biceps and grip (while also pulling the lifter forward) rather than the lats, traps, and erectors, which may displace maximal leverage and force production in the pull. It is important to note however, that slight arm bends, whether at the start of during the pulls are GENERALLY hindering performance, however there are ALWAYs anomalies. Side note, if you think you are one, tag me in your video on Instagram and I can check it out.
- Tall Snatch
- 2-4 sets of 2-5 reps
Lack of Awareness
When learning to snatch (or reiterating proper bar patterning) coaches and athletes should make sure true opening of the hips (coupled with a vertical torso) are present at the conclusion of the second pull. Often, lifters may lack the understanding of what opening the hips feels like, and therefore can never distinguish between finishing the last 10 degrees of the hips or prematurely pulling (which very well may be what they think is correct). Integrating certain movements in warm-ups, drills, and training sessions can teach lifters the correct bar path and awareness (this affects not only beginners, but all stages of weightlifters).
- Muscle Squat Snatch
- 2-4 sets of 2-5 reps
This may seem obvious, but sometimes a lifter may have issues with finishing the pull in the snatch simply because they lack sufficient power production and explosiveness in the second pull (often a result of not continuing to drive with the legs). If a lifter feels inadequate and/or has felt that they have “capped out” all of their pulling potential, they will immediately begin the 3rd pull and turnover into the catch of the snatch. By training athletes just below the point of the snatch pull that they prematurely depart, you force them to stand the barbell up and explode to allow themselves to get under. Segmental training from blocks is a great way to highlight weaknesses in a lifter’s pull, and then allow them to be coached and trained through those faults.
- Snatch from Blocks (various heights)
- 3-5 sets of 2-5 repetitions at 60-80% of 1RM
As discussed above, no two lifters are the same. While I have found in my experience working with all levels of athletes and fitness goers that the above faults needed to be addressed, there are always anomalies to the “rules”. When determining a specific fault and solution, coaches and athletes need to break down a lift, the lifter’s anatomical considerations, and their strengths/weaknesses to decide what truly is at fault. Although choosing to do an exercise because an elite lifter does them or because it worked for someone else may be an OK decision, coaches and athletes should think critically to decide a sound solution to an issue.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram
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