Hang Snatch is a nice progression to learn and master before performing the full squat snatch. It takes out the first phase of the lift (from the floor to mid thigh), thus enabling the lifter the chance to start in the correct position without having to control the bar from the floor first.
There are debates about where you should start the hang snatch from. My view goes back to what the ‘purpose’ of the exercise is. Performing this lift from hang is to focus on the second and most powerful phase of this lift. Therefore, starting fairly high, around mid thigh means you remove any opportunity to build momentum and therefore, the second phase needs to be explosive or the lifter won’t generate enough upward float on the bar to be able to drop underneath. Starting too low (close to the knee) means the lifter can gain momentum on the bar and still be able to drop underneath but miss the explosive phase, or at least, they can get away with cutting it short.
If performed correctly, this lift can be vital in developing power through the lift. When coaching athletes both the snatch and the clean, I always address the hang position first. This reduces the thought process required and allows the lifter to focus on a small part of the lift. The aim when lifting from ‘hang’ is not to pull or get the bar travelling high, in fact, quite the opposite. It is about generating just enough upward momentum to be able to drop underneath. The movement pattern should not change as the weight increases. Quite the opposite, the only difference as the weight increases is the effort required through the second phase. The aim is to catch the bar overhead just as the lifter hits the bottom receiving position. Generate too much upward momentum on the bar and you will be forced to catch the bar high and ‘ride it in’. Lifters who generate too much upward momentum because they have put too much effort in for the required weight and also try to hit the bottom position at speed will be flattened by a bar travelling down at speed.