Early in my lifting career, I was introduced to a lift my coach referred to as a “Drop Snatch” (the USAW people refer to them as Snatch Balance, and a derivative known as a “Heaving Snatch Balance.”) The purpose of this lift was to teach beginners how to get under the bar fast in a snatch, and to help developed lifters enhance this skill.
I felt this exercise was pretty much garbage. I found as a coach that it helped a little bit with teaching beginners, but nowhere near as much as other assistance exercises. With developed lifters I found no carry over from them to the actual snatch. As any good coach with a sense of pragmatism would do, I eliminated them from my programming.
Fast forward a few years. One day while scouring internet forums and trying to find nuggets of useful information buried deep within the rhetoric, I learned of a new movement. I believe that the exercise description was written my Jim Moser, a coach from Hawaii. I mulled it over in my head for a month or so and then decided to play around with it.
I fell in love with the movement almost instantly. Not only was it better for teaching beginners to punch under a bar, it actually had positive benefits for my advanced athletes. However, the movement is not fun initially, and a hell of a lot harder to learn than the normal drop snatch. In fact, one day I was asked what the name of the movement was. While trying to sound intelligent about why I had no name for it, one of my athletes scowled and pronounced them to be “f@#king garbage snatch balances.” I couldn’t have said it better my self.
The difference between the two movements is simple: the amount of time “riding the bar down.” In the first video (of both a sn balance and heaving snatch balance), notice the amount of distance the bar rides from its maximum height to full depth of the catch. Compare this to a Snatch. There is a world of difference. The best snatchers have mastered the ability to not only get under the bar fast, but also efficiently. The drop snatch does not instill this sense of timing.
Now lets look at the video if the “f@#king garbage snatch balances.”. Notice how much more the athlete is moving, and how much less the bar is moving. Way more similar to the snatch itself. There in lies the genius of this movement. It enables an athlete to get the feel for the catch portion of the snatch without having to worry about the intricacies of the positioning of the bar in the pull.
For most people sticking to sets of 3 to 5 with very light weights will do a lot to help them improve their ability to catch a snatch deep and fast.
Steve Titus, affectionately (or pejoratively depending on the strength work that day) called “Coach Steve” is the Olympic Lifting coach here at CFB, and has had a large hand in the development of the strength programs here. He has been involved in the sport of Olympic lifting for about 13 years now, 10 of them as a coach. He has coached at National level competitions, and has had the pleasure of working with national medalists. Much of his experience has been with athletes of various sports using the Oly lifts to improve their performance. His intent with writing in regards to the “O lifts” is to try to avoid in depth analysis of technique, and try to stick to topics that may actually have more of an impact on your daily training.
If anyone has specific questions that they would like answered, feel free to e mail him at email@example.com.