Teaching Snatch Technique to Beginners

Teaching Snatch Technique to Beginners
V.A. Druzhinin, Arkhangelsk
Tiazhelaya Atletika 29- 31: 1974
Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.
Sportivny Press©

The perfection of technique for the most part depends on how successful the learning at the beginning; that is to say, how close is the athlete’s representation of the exercise studied to the actual; to what degree the students effectively assimilate their movements.

We studied the technique of the snatch. Our results show that the movement parameters change as the weight of the barbell changes. Even when one is repeatedly lifting the same weight there are alterations in barbell trajectory, the magnitude of the applied force and due to other parameters, the movement of the athlete – barbell system. However, movement deviations in the performance of one phase can be compensated for in the subsequent phases, such that the athlete ultimately completes the lift. Therefore, it is imperative that novices do not learn standard movements, but are trained to find the optimum movement parameters, which are the most advantageous under the specific circumstances. The lift will result in failure if the athlete does not compensate for deviations.

The most common error resulting in a missed lift occurs when there is a significant shifting of the barbell forward in the explosion phase which is not compensated for by an increase in the horizontal force applied to the barbell. As a result the barbell drops in front of the athlete in the squat position.

It is common knowledge that the snatch is an exercise of very complex coordination structure and it is difficult for the novice to learn it as a whole. Consequently, it order to facilitate learning it we have divided the snatch into phases and elements which are as close as possible to the form and character of the exercise. We based these divisions on the basis of our analysis of technique (see figure). The alterations in the form and character of the athlete – barbell system, their bordering moments are the basis of the divisions. The principle governing the division into phases and elements is connected with specific requirements, but, the structure is closely connected with the other elements of the exercise. However, their coordination structure are of sufficient simplicity for the beginner to assimilate.

The exercise is divided slightly different in practical experience with beginners. For instance, the textbook for the institutes of physical culture recommends learning the snatch by beginning with the starting position with the barbell on the platform and then the start from the hang. Subsequently, one is to master the explosion, the main phase of the exercise, the explosion with a half squat, the lift from the platform up to the explosion and then the power snatch from the platform. Several of our elements were borrowed from these.

Why did we select these elements and parts? The lift up to the knee level has only one peculiarity: the center of pressure (CP) is at the toes, therefore, the general center of gravity of the system (GCGS) shifts backward; the barbell shifts 50 – 60 mm backward; the shoulders move 120 – 200 mm and more forward (relative to the lifter’s height).

When the knees move under the barbell the disposition of the CP is at the heels (or more precisely in the area of the ankle joints). This is a rather complex movement for the novice to perform: bending and shifting the knees under the barbell as the trunk straightens during the lifting.

The preparation for the squat under is essentially separated from the other parts of the exercise, especially the explosion. The principle reason for this is that the sportsman actively slows and stops the movement of his body upward. Analysis of technique has revealed that the athlete’s feet remain on the platform. However, the force generated is small, compared to that of the explosion; in the split snatch only one foot is in contact with the platform.

During the squat under phase the trunk is lowered as the barbell is moving upward and the feet are raised off the platform. Research has shown that the longer the athlete’s feet are in the non – support position the faster the trunk descends. The correlation between duration of the non – support position and the depth of the trunk’s descent is r = 0.628.

A principle feature of the non – support phase of the squat under the barbell is the movement of the trunk down when the barbell is descending. At first glance the inappropriate descent of the barbell makes it difficult to master this phase; which makes it imperative it be included in the beginning lessons.

Druzhinin Snatch Diagrams

Like other authors we have not included the recovery from the squat under in their learning elements, because the coordination of this element it is not considered difficult. But, if you “stop” the movement in the squat position you exclude the habit of performing the exercise as whole.

There is a distinct advantage of dividing the exercise such that the specificity of the parts relative to the whole exercise is preserved. All of the parts of the exercise divided into elements and parts maintain their interconnections. So, in our opinion, we can begin the exercise lessons by teaching the athlete to assimilate the interconnecting elements of the exercise as a whole system of movements.

Of no small significance is the sequence of mastering the individual elements and phases of the exercise. In order to compare the effectiveness of different variants of sequentially learning the exercise we conducted a study. We employed these learning variants.

1) in the order the elements and phases follow each other in the exercise as a whole (the so – called direct method);
2) beginning with the main phase of the exercise – the explosion, then in turn a sequential assimilation of the preceding and subsequent elements (“concentric”);
3) in reverse order (“backwards”).

The results showed that the reverse order of learning was the most effective and the least was the order of elements as they occur in the exercise as a whole. The reason the “concentric” method fell between the two was due to the fact that half of the elements were studied in their correct order in the exercise and half in the reverse order.

Learning the technique of the snatch by elements and phases in reverse order. Since we took into account that the parameters of the movement unavoidably vary, we attempted to avoid the formation of a stagnant motor habit which would not be to the sportsman’s advantage later on. It should be noted that conditions for learning the movements in sequence, typically avoid variation of the motor habits. When the final elements of the exercise are learned earlier you can perform the movements with conscious deviations with respect to the teacher’s instructions. We recommend various deviations, including deviation from the starting positions, extreme disposition of the general center of gravity of the athlete barbell system (even outside the area of balance) forward and backward, various degrees of flexion in the arms and knees, inclination of the trunk, execution of the movement accentuation of specific joints, and so forth. Learning the movements sequentially does not allow the athlete practice beyond the limits of the accessible deviations. So, the skill to find the optimum movement parameters is developed in the learning process. The schematic of the elements and phases for study does not preclude the use of supplementary and other special exercises, or cover such topics as hand spacing, and so forth.

Learning the supported squat and the recovery. Joint mobility, especially in the shoulder joints is very important for assuming the squat position with the barbell overhead and the arms straight.

S.P. (starting position, Ed.) standing with the barbell held at arms length overhead (weight is 50% of bodyweight) tilt the barbell backward, lean forward with the back arched, then descend until the pelvis is at knee level, then quickly drop to the lowest position in the squat. Perform the recovery with a loss of balance forward and backward, then rearrange the feet for the downward movement.

Learning the non – support squat under. Stand on the toes with the arms bent at an angle of 120° and the barbell at the lower part of the waist; slowly raise the barbell while lowering the trunk, lift the feet and hold them in the non – support position as long as possible, drop under the barbell to the lowest squat position. Then perform this movement with a loss of balance forward and backward.

Learning the preparation to squat under. Stand with the heels raised, arms bent at an angle of 150°, barbell level with the upper 1/3 of the thighs. Then lift the apparatus while brushing the thighs and waist and slowly move the trunk upward and quickly drop into the squat position. Take the same starting position and perform the same movement with a loss of balance forward then backward. The degree to which the feet are rearranged in this and other situations range from an unstable squat position forwards to an unstable position backwards.

Learning the explosion. Starting position: barbell at lower thigh level, the heels are elevated one centimeter, the arms are straight. Lift the barbell lightly brushing the thighs and the lower part of the waist. Do the same movement with a loss of balance forward and backwards and with a rearranging of the feet in front of and behind the projection of the barbell.

Learning to move the knees under the barbell. Starting position: barbell at knee level, shins are vertical, the arms are straight, the shoulders are in front of the vertical line of the bar, all of the weight is at the heels. Lift the barbell by shifting the knees forward, lightly brush and so forth.

Learning the lift to knee level. From the starting position apply pressure to the floor through the toes, lift the barbell shifting it backward and the shoulders forward, brushing the bar against the shins, and so forth.