Olympic Weightlifting Encyclopedia 50

Balance in and Recovery from the Squat Snatch

Balance in and Recovery from the Squat Snatch

In recovering from the squat snatch, the lifter raises the hips up and somewhat back while permitting the shoulders to travel forward with the torso inclining forward. However, the direction of the bar is as vertical as possible throughout the process, because the line of gravity of the bar must remain within the middle of the lifter’s feet in order for the lifter to maintain his or her balance. There is a tendency for the balance to shift from the middle of the foot towards the rear of the foot as the hips travel back during the recovery. Subsequently, the balance shifts in a forward direction as the extension of the legs progresses, but it always remains toward the center of the lifter’s foot.

In his once pathbreaking book, Secrets Of The Squat Snatch, Larry Barnholth (a pioneer in teaching the squat style snatch and coach of Pete and Jim George) provided some very useful advice on recovering from the low position of the squat snatch. He advised the lifter to drive up out of the bottom position as quickly as possible after stopping the bar’s downward progress-even before the lifter feels completely balanced. As was discussed earlier, he reasoned that a lifter would be far more likely to be able to save a lift from a partially recovered position than from the deep squat.

An additional point not mentioned by Barnholth was that by immediately pushing upward on the bar, the lifter exerts control over the bar by applying a force that influences its direction. I have witnessed many lifts in which athletes merely sat in the bottom position after essentially arresting the downward, but not horizontal, motion of the bar. The bar ultimately traveled outside the lifter’s base of support and the lift was lost. Had the lifters continued to exert upward force against the bar, they would have had much better chances of gaining control

Barnholth also recommended procedures for saving squat snatches that are quite correct but seldom discussed in today’s literature. If the lifter feels the bar drifting backward, he or she should lower the head and torso, or at least maintain his or her position while raising the hips backward. If the bar is traveling forward, the lifter should lower the hips, raise the head and then immediately drive up from the squat. These reactions may feel unnatural, but so is turning into the direction of a skid when you lose control of an automobile. Nevertheless, these movements work.

Barnholth was saying in a non-technical way that once the bar and body are outside their base of support in this case the middle of the lifter’s foot), there is no chance to save the lift unless the lifter has risen high enough out of the squat position for the support (feet) to be moved under the bar quickly. Some lifters are so comfortable under the bar that they can move their feet while in the deep squat position, but this is an extremely rare ability, one which can lead to damage to the knees.

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