Written by Nash Woods

The barbell snatch is arguably the most challenging movement seen in CrossFit, if not across all sport. It requires you to bring a barbell from the floor to overhead in one smooth motion without maiming yourself or others in the process.

The pull is the most important part of a snatch. You can think of it like the takeoff of a rocket. A good pull doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you make the lift, but with a bad pull, there’s a significant chance that you’re going to miss it. So if you are having trouble snatching, start first at the pull.

Are you setting up properly?

The start position of your snatch should feel tight and engaged. Think about pulling yourself into your start position with your lats and hamstrings. A great way to practice this set up is to anchor the center of your bar to an anchor point, such as a pull-up structure, with a band then practice your usual set up. The tension of the band trying to pull the bar away from you should allow you to feel where you have slack in your setup. When you get an engaged setup, don’t lose it all by trying to yank the bar off of the floor as hard as you can, but think instead of squeezing the bar off of the floor as the knees come back and the chest stays up with the shoulders back to keep tension in the lats.

We’ve all seen the “stripper booty” in the snatch pull. When the tension in the lats/upper back goes away, a common error we see is that the butt raises and the chest drops. If you miss out front when snatching you are probably making this mistake. The cause of this can be a weak upper back, tight traps/pecs/biceps (if you sit/slouch a lot this is you), or poor proprioception in the musculature of the upper back. It may even be all three. The same drill of banding your bar helps tremendously here by forcing you to use the muscles that you are neglecting in your positions.

Does the bar contact the hip? Do you reach full extension? Be patient! If the last thing that the bar touches before you try and snap under the bar into a receiving position is your mid to upper thigh, then you’re jumping the gun. You can’t efficiently get under before you finish getting up. The bar should contact the hips at the same time that you reach full extension of the hips, knees and ankles, or what’s referred to as “triple extension”. Think about getting as tall as you can before pulling yourself under the bar. This helps ensure that the bar will come up and not outward. 

The last piece of advice on snatching I can give you is this. Film yourself, do it every snatch session and watch the videos closely. You might feel like you’re hitting everything on this list but might actually be missing pieces that you don’t realize. Visual cues can be a great way to spot your mistakes and translate corrections back into your movement by creating a better mind-muscle connection.