4 Common Mistakes in The Barbell Snatch

There are numerous errors that occur due to the complex nature of the Olympic lifts.  The best

way to identify problems and the corrections for those problems is with an Olympic weightlifting

coach!  I have, however, compiled some common errors and possible corrections. This is not

meant to be an all inclusive or exhaustive assessment of errors and corrections for the snatch,

rather some suggestions for improvement.

Common Mistakes That will hurt your barbell snatch - Health Alchemist Training

1. Jumping Forward In the Catch

This is problematic because it throws the lifter off balance as the body is launched forward under

the weight.  It makes it very difficult to stabilize the weight overhead at heavy loads.  A common

cause of this error is hitting the bar horizontally with the hips and launching the weight forward

in an arc.  I do believe that for a snatch to be done properly, you must hit the bar at full hip

extension. However, the bar must remain close to the thighs (brushing the thighs) so that it does

not move horizontally, as it does more commonly when hit from a distance.  Think jump not

bump. When athletes focus on the bump they tend to project the bar horizontally. Equally

important is using your latissimus dorsi (the muscles of the back that look like wings) to keep the

bar pressed close to the body.

The Fix: Work snatch pulls and high pulls keeping the bar close to the body.


2. Failure To Drop

Dropping under (pulling under) the bar is necessary in both the power snatch and squat snatch,

just to a greater degree is the squat variation.  Oftentimes this is caused by an underlying fear of

dropping beneath heavy weight.  That is a natural tendency but must be overcome to effectively

snatch heavier weight.  This can also be the reason why the weight must be pressed out rather

than having full arm extension in the catch. Another cause could be disconnecting from the bar

(load). Think of pulling yourself under the bar while maintaining a connection to the bar rather

than dropping with a free fall.

The Fix: A) Work tall snatch to work on pulling under the bar. B) Work heavy snatch

push press to get used to having heavier weight overhead.


3. Arms Bending Too Early

Bending Arms to early - common overhead snatch mistake - Health Alchemist Training

This is very common because we are used to lifting things with our arms.  The majority of

vertical drive on the bar is from the hips (hip extension), therefore it is vital to keep tension in the

arms in order to maximize this drive.  Think of your arms as ropes with hooks attached at the

end.  If you flex or bend the ropes, you can lose the tension on the bar that you created from the

pull, if the arms start to restraighten. This in turn weakens the vertical drive on the bar.  Ideally

the arms should bend at the end of full hip extension, in order to pull the body under the bar. 

The Fix: Work on snatch pulls, making sure to keep the arms straight.


4. Stripper Pull

This is when the butt rises faster than the shoulders in the first pull from the floor.  They must

rise at the same time until the bar passes the knee.  Besides looking like you are showcasing for a

Biggest Overhead Snatch Mistake -Health Alchemist Training

night job, another detriment to the stripper pull is that it puts slack in the system (body structure),

decreasing the vertical drive of the bar in the first pull.  It’s like letting out some of the tension

that you created to lift the bar.  If I maintain a flat back and the shoulders and hips rise at the

same time, I create momentum in the first pull, which leads to a better second pull and overall


The Fix: Work halting snatch deadlifts.


There are many other errors including but not limited to: scraping the shins, shoulders not over

the bar, elbows pointing back instead of out (laterally), landing on the toes, and missing full hip

extension.  If you are unfamiliar with the recommended exercises your best bet is an Olympic

weightlifting coach. Catalyst Athletics also has a great free online library of videos. Stay strong!


Dr. Tony Lammana

Dr. Tony Lamanna has his Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine, a  Masters in Human Nutrition, and teaches college Anatomy & Physiology and Nutrition. He has 4 different Olympic Weightlifting certifications including USAW Advanced Sports Performance Coach, a powerlifting certification (USAPL), and is a Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM). Dr. Tony is also a US National kettlebell champion in the kettlebell clean & jerk, national silver medalist in the kettlebell snatch (IKLF), and a World silver medalist in the kettlebell clean & jerk (IKLF), as well as holding several AZ state records in Powerlifting (USAPL).

Youtube: Weightlifting Doc Instagram: @weightliftingdoc

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