This week on TechniqueWOD, we’re talking about the snatch balance and all of its variations. Overall, these are incredible movements for improving snatching performance.
The basic technique is relatively simple. After a quick dip and drive with the legs, drop and catch the barbell in a full overhead squat position. As you might guess, this movement is fantastic for athletes needing to build confidence and skill in the bottom of the snatch.
Just about everyone can benefit from performing the snatch balance, but there is a clear prerequisite – You must be capable of getting down into a solid, full OH squat position. Take your time. Keep working your mobility.
In time, you will get more comfortable in the bottom, which will have a huge carryover to performance.
Start with the traditional snatch balance. Dip and drive quickly, then drop into a nice overhead squat position.
The heaving snatch balance is a great variation. It’s mostly the same, only the heels should stay on the ground. Overall, the drive off the shoulders is slower and more deliberate, which is great for developing shoulder strength and stability for heavy snatches.
Next up is the pressing snatch balance. Here, the focus is on pushing yourself under the barbell into the squat using your arms, with no initial leg drive and change in barbell height. This is a great assistance exercise for the arms because you get some pressing work done. But this movement is also far more specific to the snatch than a standard press, and will improve performance to a greater degree.
The final snatch balance variation is the drop snatch. The barbell height shouldn’t change at the start. But instead of pressing down, the focus is on a very rapid drop under the barbell. This is a great warm-up drill that you can do with an empty barbell to find your rhythm before the snatch.
- Make sure you sink to the very bottom, with your elbows fully extended and locked the whole time. Stick to simple overhead squats until that’s possible.
- Don’t allow your feet to get too close together, or too far apart on the dive.
- On the drop and catch, make sure the knees track straight over the toes.
- Keep your torso vertical on the dip and drive, just like on your jerk. If the hips come back at all you won’t be able to initiate a strong drive. Likewise, don’t allow your heels to rise or your knees dive inward during the dip.
- All rituals and habits in your snatch should be present when you snatch balance, even down to where you look with your eyes during the lift. Keep the same overall mindset and you’ll get far more carryover.
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When to do it
If you’re new to lifting, keep the load light. Snatch balances with about 50-70% of your snatch is a great way to build skill and confidence in the bottom of the snatch. Do these before you snatch to prime position and increase the quality of your snatch reps.
If you’re relatively comfortable in the snatch and you’ve got solid technique, you can use the snatch balance to build strength. Take your heaviest snatch work sets, and then add about 10% extra load (this is variable, so feel free to experiment).
Just the habit of holding a much heavier load overhead will improve your confidence and strength in the snatch. That alone is worth the time.
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