How to Break Down the Clean and Snatch

Remember when you first saw a Clean & Jerk or Snatch and thought “I can totally do that”. Then you tried it out in class and realized how technical and challenging it can be to do it right. You’re not alone.

Weightlifting has so many moving parts that all happen in split second. If one is out of order it throws off the whole lift. That is why as a coach I try to simplify it as best as possible.

If you have taken one of my classes you are familiar with my BALLS – HEELS – BALLS approach to weightlifting. Seems silly, and it is, we are adults, but without fail, every time I use this cue I get a chuckle, BUT it works!

Now let’s talk about BALLS – HEELS – BALLS. . .

The cue explains the weight shift in your feet during both the snatch and the clean BUT it is not anatomically correct so let me explain. . .

The weight distribution throughout most of the lift will stay in the mid-foot, but will shift towards the balls or heel of the foot depending on the phase of the lift.

So . . . when I say BALLS your foot should be firmly planted on the floor with the weight distribution closer to the balls, when I say HEELS, the same applies but for the heel. (see picture) Failure to do so will drastically decrease your power output. Below is a graphic of the weight shift during a lift from start to finish.

There are 3 stages (or pulls) in both the clean and the snatch, and if the 1st pull is not precise, then it will throw off the 2nd pull, and so on. Therefore it is vital that an athlete understand where each of these pulls start and end position wise. . . and where BALLS – HEELS – BALLS comes into play.

Although it is a fun cue, it is only a fraction of the puzzle. There are so many other things that need to happen when lifting, but you have to be able to master this concept before moving onto anything else. In conjunction with the shift, there are body positions you should be striving for as I will describe below:

1st Pull: Floor → Knees
During the first pull the weight distribution will shift from BALLS → HEELS. During this transition you will try to keep a similar back angle to your starting position, pull the bar into you as you move your knees back and out of the way. When the bar reaches your knees, your weight should be towards the HEELS with shins vertical ready to transition into the second pull.

2nd Pull: Knee → Hip
During the second pull the weight distribution will shift from HEELS → BALLS. During this transition your chest will rise while knees scoop forward. The bar should continually sweep into the body towards the hip. When the bar is at the hips the weight should be in the HEELS and the foot firmly planted on the floor ready to transition to the final pull.

3rd Pull: Hip → Catch
During the third pull the weight will move from HEELS → BALLS. This is the only stage that the heels should come off the floor and you can surpass the ‘heels’ line in the illustration above. During this transition your setup from the previous two pulls along with the power developed from a powerful hip drive will propel the bar upward. The upward phase includes full extension of the hip, a follow through with the shoulder (shrug). Immediately after the shrug your follow through on the pull will give the bar the final movement upward while you actively pull yourself under the bar for the catch (Snatch or Clean).

Next time you are tackling the Clean or Snatch, try it out. See how the small shifts of weight in the foot make all of the difference to your lift!

To learn more about these lifts, contact 352-215-8609 or click here to schedule a 1 on 1 with a coach!

Happy Lifting!