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Improve Your Drop Snatch: Practicing the Skills of Balance and Stability

For an audio version of this blog post click here, and be sure to visit www.docandjock.com for more great content to optimize your training.

I wanted to take a moment and discuss the applications of balance and stability while drilling the Drop Snatch.

Drop Snatch – Athlete Demo

Firstly and secondist, why call it a Drop Snatch and why in the hell pause the athlete out of the drive?

I call this a Drop Snatch because I want emphasis placed on getting low.  The goals of this drill, on this day, for this athlete are to establish a balanced drive, set an end point for the drive, as well as practice stabilizing in the receiving position dynamically.

Pausing at the top of the drive serves some specific functions.  Like many athletes Ryan misses full extension trying to sneak under the bar.  This results in missed power and unused leg drive.  To fully utilize the potential of your legs when performing exercise like the Drop Snatch, and ultimately the full lifts, you must fully extend them.  I have found that forcing athletes to pause slightly at the top of their drive helps to establish a clear place to finish their drive.

The obvious carry over is to the jerk.  However, athletes who do not reach full extension in the clean and snatch will also benefit from working this variation and other segmented variations like it.  Start with body weight and unloaded behind the head variations and work toward loaded variations in front of the head.  Once balance and control are established you can move toward drilling this concept from the hang, and finally off of the floor in full lifts.

This Drop Snatch variation is also a great place to introduce timing concepts.  Pausing athletes on their toes provides a clear place to begin pressing the body under the bar.  The best lifters in the world seem to beat gravity.  They do this by utilizing the bar to accelerate their bodies down.  With legs fulling extended in a balanced position the athlete has no place to go but down.

As athletes like Ryan begin to understand and demonstrate these concepts I cue them to move through the full range of motion slowly then more quickly.

Here is a full progression moving from a segmented body weight drill to a high hang snatch.

Step 1 – BW Segmented Snatch

Step 2 – Segmented Snatch Balance

Step 3 – Body Weight High Pull + Tall Snatch

Step 4 – Barbell High Pull Plus + Snatch

Step 5 – High Hang Snatches

Also, when an athlete can display balance at the top of this drop snatch variation (on toes) it is a good sign that their drive is balanced.  Athletes who walk forward, like Ryan, or jumping back are obviously moving forward or backward.

This is a no bueno.

In Weightlifting the more we move up and down in a straight line the better.  Sure, their may be good reasons to jump back but in my mind it is a sign of misplaced force.  Being able to hang out on your toes, is a great indicator of pushing up and down from a balanced and stable center or mass.

Ryan has tinkered with unloaded and body weight versions of this drill.  Visit my YouTube channel for a full catalog of Push to Slide BW and unload bar variations.

With balance glossed over, lets scratch the surface of stability.

As you can see Ryan shows some wiggle and loses control in the receiving position of his first two attempts.

The fix was found practicing the skill of stability.

I stole this cue from Chris Duffin while interviewing him for the Doc and Jock Podcast.  When Chris coaches athletes to finish a deadlift or squat he uses the term “Prison Defense.”  What he is getting at is activating the pelvic floor and engaging the glutes.

Similarly, I have adapted this cue to help athletes tighten up in the receiving position.  Too often we think of the trunk in terms of a front and back.  We forget there is also a top and bottom and that actively engaging those regions of the trunk plays a critical roll in stabilizing the barbell overhead.

To coach proper activation of the pelvic floor cueing a nice butt squeeze generally does the trick.  To coach activation of the top of the trunk cue athletes to inhale creating pressure around the belly button.  After a proper inhale focused on keeping the ribs down have your athletes exhale, reinforcing their trunk and pushing their ribs further down.  This should help set the entire trunk.

Hollow Rolls are a great drill to establish some of these concepts.

Between attempts of this drill we also performed some OHS with a PVC aimed at establishing this trunk positioning.

As Ryan worked through this drill we also talked about trunk efficiency.

In my mind we always want to save a bit of a belly punch to catch the bar and stabilize.  This requires trunk efficiency at the set up and throughout the lift.

With a light drop snatch you don’t need a lot of tension in the trunk to stabilize the load during the set up.  The thought here is to use only the required amount of tension to stabilize the trunk in the set up; waiting until the catch to force the full, “Prison D,” all hands on deck, trunk activation required for the receiving position.

I have also found that my legs are more connected to moving the bar when utilizing this concept.  The idea is that you only want to move and stabilize load with the required tension and save a little something to catch and recover the load later in the lift.

When I Squat, do drills like the Drop Snatch, or practice the full lifts I always take a moment in my set up to feel out the required tension to stabilize and move the load.  What I am doing is feeling out the load and determining the required tension to maintain good positioning.  The aim is always saving a bit of tension to release in the reception.

There are hidden skills in everything we do in Weightlifting.

As I age, very ungracefully, I have been able to find longevity in training the skills within Weightlifting, not just load, sets and reps.  The repetitive nature of Weightlifting is unforgiving.  You see this in the injuries that plague athletes and limit performance.  Drill work keeps training fresh, light and fast.  All of which can lessen the affects repetitive training.

Make sure your drill work serves a specific goal, caters to the needs of the athlete, and has a progression. When developing drills the idea should be to work from a short to large motor patterns and always build on complexity.

Training the skills within the movements also lightens the load, promotes carry over to other movements, and provides meaningful practice that isn’t tied to load, keeping you fresh for the next session.

Folks if you would like to see how I incorporate the Drop Snatch and other skill based movements into a program check out the FREE download below!

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