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This week I have had a couple email and text conversations about what to do with the feet when performing a snatch balance.  Since I began lifting I have heard as more names for multiple different variations of the Snatch Balance than I thought possible.  Guys like Greg Everett, Mike Burgener, and even CJ Stockel all emphasize, use, and understand the value of the Snatch Balance but they all go about teaching them a little different.  As far as I am aware there are 4 different versions of the Snatch Balance.n

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  • Pressing/Press/Pushing/Non-Heaving: Snatch Balance:  Feet in squatting position, press yourself down into an overhead squat with no upward momentum applied to the bar.  Example
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  • Flat-Footed/Heaving/Squat-Stance: Snatch Balance: Feet begin in squatting position, feet remain flat on the floor, dip and drive the weight without raising the feet from the platform and push into the bottom of an overhead squat. Example
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  • Heaving/Dynamic/Driving/Jumping: Snatch Balance: Feet begin in pulling position, dip and drive the bar off the shoulders with as much power as possible, jump to squatting position with your feet, and catch the bar as fast as possible in the bottom position. Example
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  • Drop/Non-Heaving Snatch Balance: Feet start in squatting position, unlike the pressing snatch balance, this is a dynamic movement without the movement of the feet (though some move the feet from pulling to squatting), drop from the top to the receiving position as fast as possible with no upward momentum on the bar. Example
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nNow I am sure there are both more names and more variations out there but these seem to be the most common.  However, I wanted to take a second and mention the utility of these exercises.
When I teach the lifts, I teach that the feet should start under the hips in the pulling position and finish a little wider in the squatting position (just outside the hips).  THE FEET MUST MOVE.  If the feet didn’t move one would be hard-pressed to prove that maximal force was applied to the bar VERTICALLY.  Therefore, if I am having my athletes do any type of snatch balance for load they must move their feet.  It’s a good habit to form and it allows for greater amounts of weight to be used.  Furthermore, the movement of the feet allows the lifter to apply greater dynamic force to the bar and as a result move faster to the bottom of the squat.  The only exception is the Pressing Snatch Balance which we ONLY use in warmups when either building to a heavier, more dynamic snatch balance OR when warming up for the snatch.
Why train a dynamic movement where the feet don’t move if you are trying to teach the feet to move in a dynamic lift?  MOVE THE FEET!  Training to keep the feet planted in the snatch balance is not only a poor exercise for teaching the lifts but engrains poor movement patterns into the brain.
Disclaimer:  I teach the lifts one way and many other smart, capable coaches probably have a good reason to coach it another way.  However moving the feet just seems to make the most sense to me… and has benefitted my training the most.