These are just my views but I believe a good coach should be able to give you reasoning behind any exercises they ask you to do. So, whenever I coach I try to get the lifter to understand what they are doing, not to just follow instructions.
Before I explain what I believe a snatch balance is, and how it should be performed, let’s first ask the question…. Why do it? What’s the aim? Quite simply, the fundamental aim of performing snatch balance is to develop speed under the bar. Therefore, in order to develop speed under the bar, it needs to be performed in such a way where you can move at speed. It’s a great exercise to build confidence dropping
Therefore, in order to develop speed under the bar, it needs to be performed in such a way where you can move at speed. It’s a great exercise to build confidence dropping into the receiving position before progressing on to the snatch. It’s also a good warm up before snatching with any weight.
If the aim is to move at speed then to make it a fair race between the lifter and bar, there should be no upward movement on the bar before you drop under. If there is, then you are falsely giving yourself more time (a head start if you like).
Upward movement can be achieved by pushing with your arms as you drop, or dipping and driving with the legs before dropping. Both of these movements will result in the lifter being able to catch the bar in a higher position and ‘riding it in’ to a deep squat position. This defeats the aims of performing snatch balance, so why train it in this way?
If you think about a dip and drive with the legs before dropping under the bar, technically it’s not a snatch balance at all, rather a squat jerk behind neck. What are the benefits of this? In my view… nothing more than getting used to feeling a heavy weight overhead and developing a solid, fast, dynamic receiving position.
So, how should a snatch balance be performed to actually achieve the desired outcome? By resting the bar across the back of the shoulders, relaxing the arms and, dropping and catching at the very bottom receiving position. There should be no ‘sinking’ or ‘riding in’.
The receiving position should be hit at speed with no bouncing or wobbling. A good way to know if you’re actually achieving the aim is to line the bar up with something on the wall behind.
Get someone to watch to see if the bar travels up, down or stays the same. If you correctly relax your arms at the start, the bar should only drop. Hence, this is not an exercise you should load too heavy or be able to lift heavy on. You’ll only be able to lift heavy weights by driving the bar upwards first, thus defeating the point in doing a ‘snatch balance’ with the aim of developing speed under the bar.
Another good way to ‘find’ that deep receiving position is to perform some stability work in a deep squat. By this, I mean go in to the squat position with the bar at arms length, have a partner stand behind and gently push the bar in different directions. Not enough to push you over but enough for your core muscles and shoulders to have to work hard. This is a nice exercise to help with stability in the deep receiving position.
So, to summarise, it is my view that the main reason for performing the snatch balance is to develop speed under the bar. So… I challenge you to let the breaks off, drop and catch rather than place the bar overhead.
Be confident and dynamic in the receiving position.
Thanks for reading
Michaela Breeze MBE