Snatching While You Wod

Joes Barbell
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Guess what folks?  When you Snatch in CrossFit wods it shouldn’t look all that different from when you go after a heavy single.  Much too often I’ll watch athletes completely change their swing in an attempt to move faster.  This is partly the reason Weightlifting coaches hate CrossFit.  They see the bastardized version of a movement they love taking place all for the sake of a score, a score that doesn’t make sense to them because it’s not measured in Kilos.  Often times that bastardized version of the lift can leave the athlete injured, isn’t nearly as efficient, and works against achieving what the athlete wants, a better score.  In an attempt to help alittle here are some tips to Snatching in CrossFit wods, aside from the big one– DO IT RIGHT!!! 

1.       Be mindful of your set up.  Your first rep when doing anything with the barbell should be to set up properly.  Whether you are on rep 1 or 29 when you set your feet and grab the bar you should look the same.  When I set up to perform a snatch I cover the first lace of my shoes (the one opposite of my knot); look at something fixed and slightly above the horizon, grab the bar, lift my chest until I find that mark again, take a breath, set my back and go to work.  I also like having my shoulders slightly forward of the bar and my hips slightly higher than my knees.  It’s a skill to get in and out of a proper set up quickly, if you don’t practice it you probably won’t consistently set up correctly.

2.       Keep your feet. This could be part of the set up but warrants its own spot because it can make all the difference in a sprint.  Setting your feet in the receiving position and keeping them there for as long as possible will save you bundles of time.  This includes when you’re working and when you’re resting (if necessary – I rest – a lot).  While working you’re sure to loose precious seconds if you’re jumping and having to bring your feet back together to hit standards.  While resting if you step away from the bar you’re bound to lose much more time than you think (don’t you know that time moves double mid wod). 

3.       Keep the bar close to your body.  This goes for taking the bar from the floor to behind your head to from behind your head to the floor.  As you break the bar off the floor think efficiency to the knee, when you clear the knee you need to squeeze and engage the back and make sure you exercise a little patience as you extend the hip.  Extending, or jumping, to early will result in an inefficient bar path.  Taking the bar back to the floor can be the tricky part.  You need to pull the bar toward your chest, maintain flexion at the elbow and quickly and in control internally rotate the shoulder until the bar is back at the hip.  In order to do this safely some mobility and stability work will need to be done.  If you don’t have either put in the time.  It also helps to always think elbows back.  Doing so as you ascend and descend the bar will also keep it pretty tight to the body. 

4.       Take care of your trunk.  Generally speaking there is no place in athletics for a rounded back.  It’s a quick way to an unwanted and lengthy period of rest.  Open your chest, tighten the core and keep your ribs down as you work through all phases of the movement and you should be find.  If you can’t actively protect your posture the weight is too heavy, you’re too tired, and your coaches aren’t doing their job.    

5.       Keep Tension.  I can’t think of any reason to completely relax when doing anything with a barbell, especially when it’s loaded.  This is especially true with cycling complex movements like the snatch.  You need to maintain tension in the core throughout (see tip 4),  actively maintain a retracted and depressed shoulder girdle as you whip the bar in front of and behind your head, and reload your hamstrings and quads as the bar get closer to the floor.  You should be looking to tap and go, not slam and go.  An important note here is that both plates should tap the ground at the same time.  If you get off balance something isn’t line up right and it’s going to cost you.       

There are lots of reason to do and not to do any number of exercises.  Always consult a coach before attempting anything and go through the proper movement screen to make sure you have the ability to perform the task at hand.  I coach weightlifting and crossfit and although I’d rather perform my snatches one rep at a time I understand cycling snatches is part of the sport of fitness.  It’s better to do it right and have a plan than to sit back, complain, and wish people would just magically get better.  Learn, practice, and strengthen the patterns necessary to move properly and have a quality set of eyes close by to make sure those things are happening.

Do it right or don’t do it at all…. It’s the only way to make sure you’ll always be in a position to build a better total.