The snatch is the first of two lifts contested in the sport of weightlifting (also known as Olympic weightlifting) followed by the clean and jerk. The objective of the snatch is to lift the barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion. There are four main styles of snatch used: squat snatch (or full snatch), split snatch, power snatch, and muscle snatch. The squat snatch and split snatch are the most common styles used in competition while power snatch and muscle snatch are mostly used for training purposes. In the squat snatch, the lifter lifts the bar as high as possible and pulls themselves under it in a squat position, receiving the bar overhead with the arms straight, decreasing the necessary height of the bar, therefore increasing the amount of weight that the lifter may successfully lift. In the split snatch, the lifter lifts the bar as high as possible and pulls themselves under the bar similar to the squat snatch but in the split snatch the lifter "splits" his legs, placing one foot in front of them and one behind, allowing themselves to receive the bar lower as in the squat snatch. The split snatch has become much less common with the increased popularity of the squat snatch but is occasionally performed by some lifters. In the power snatch, the lifter lifts the barbell as high as possible and receives the bar overhead with only a slight bend in the knee and hip, increasing the height that the bar must be lifted and decreasing the amount of weight that may be successfully lifted. In the muscle snatch, the lifter lifts the bar all the way overhead with arms locked out and the hip and knee fully extended.
While the snatch is commonly referred to in three phases, Arthur Drechsler identifies six distinct phases of the pull in the snatch.
The lifter begins the first phase of the pull, or "Pre-lift off", with the feet placed approximately hip width apart, toes turned out slightly with the bar above the midfoot. The shins will be inclined toward the bar so that the shin is touching or close to the bar. Hips are placed so that the top of the thigh is approximately parallel to the ground but may also be slightly higher or lower depending on the lifter. The lifters back should be straight, no excessive curvature or rounding in the lumbar spine, with slight extension of the thoracic spine and shoulders slightly pulled back. The shoulders should be positioned so that they are directly over or slightly forward of the bar. The bar is gripped with a very wide grip. The neck should be positioned in line with the torso or slightly more vertical. During the first pull, the lifter begins to exert force on the bar, separating the weight from the platform.
The second phase of the pull, or "preliminary acceleration" begins with the weight separated from the floor. In the second phase, the lifter begins by extending the knee and moving the hip upward while maintaining a constant back angle relative to the floor. During this phase, the lifter pulls the bar closer to his body and the center of gravity of the lifter shifts toward the heel. During this phase, the lifter begins to accelerate the bar and towards the end of the phase, the torso begins to assume a more vertical position.
During the third phase, or "adjustment phase", the lifter begins to position his body appropriately for the final explosive pull. The knees typically perform a "double knee bend", where the knee bends from the previous extension of the knee during the second phase, and the torso continues to become more vertical. During this phase, the lifter doesn't apply as great a force on the bar as in the previous phases.
During the fourth phase of the pull, or "final acceleration" the lifter performs the final acceleration on the bar. This is executed by explosively extending the hip, knee, and ankles (or plantar-flexing).This is followed by an upward elevation of the shoulders (the "shrug"), and simultaneously lifting the heels or the whole foot of the ground. The lifters torso will usually lean slightly backwards during this phase, and the bar is accelerated upward with a slightly arced trajectory.
The fifth phase of the pull, or "unsupported squat phase", occurs when the lifter has fully extended his knees, hips, and ankle. The lifter bends his arms at the elbow, pulling himself under the bar. Simultaneously he moves his feet slightly apart into the squat position and begins to move downward into the squat position
The sixth phase, or supported squat under, occurs when the lifters feet have landed flatfooted on the platform and the lifter pulls themselves into a squat position. The lifter then receives the bar overhead with the arms completely straight. From this position, the lifter recovers by squatting the weight to a fully erect position while maintaining the bar position overhead.
While there is an accepted standard way of performing the snatch, there is no absolute truth in what is the right and wrong way to lift. Some athletes prefer different variations of the lift, but generally the movement is taught in roughly the same way. A common mistake new lifters often face is bending their arm and pulling on the bar too soon, before the Fifth Phase. Elbows should be locked during the extension of ankles, knees and hips in the Fourth Phase to allow maximal transfer of the produced force from the extension of the joins in to the bar. A bent arm will act like a spring, dampening the force transfer. After maximal extension in the Fourth Phase, the arms will be bent, pulling the athlete under the bar into the receiving squat position.
Another common mistake beginners often face is receiving the bar too early in the Sixth Phase, not squatting as low as they are capable of doing. The athlete extends, pulls, lands and then catches, while in fact the landing and catching of the bar should happen simultaneously. This results in a "catch" and then a continuation of the squat. This might be a timing issue as well as a lack of deliberately trying to get down in the squat position as fast as possible. An effective way to fix this is to use the sensory cue of listening after the sound of the feet or heels making contact with the floor and timing this to the moment of receiving the bar overhead. This is a powerful cue that help beginners learn how important speed is when going under the bar. This is preferably practiced with a light, wooden stick before using a barbell.
Application to other sports
The snatch is also commonly used as a tool for training athletes in a variety of sports especially with athletes in sports where powerful full body movement is required such as throwing, sprinting, running, and jumping. The triple-extension in the snatch (simultaneous extension of the knee and hip, and plantar flexion at the ankle) mimics the movements previously mentioned while requiring the athlete to produce large amounts of power at high velocities. The snatch has an average velocity of 1.52–1.67 m/s,. This makes it a quality lift for training speed-strength in which the athlete aims to move a light weight (25–40% 1RM) at its fastest velocity (1.1 m/s-1.65 m/s)
The heaviest snatch ever in IWF competition was 216 kg achieved by Antonio Krastev on 9/13/1987 in Ostrava during the World Championships, although this record is no longer official due to the restructuring of the weight classes.