Tall Snatch

Let’s start by talking about what the tall snatch is. The tall snatch, in it’s true form, is performed with the athlete standing up tall, and then without any momentum from the legs, aggressively pulling themselves down, using the arms, to the bottom of the overhead squat position.


There are a different number of uses, not limited to teaching the athlete where they should be BEFORE they start to use their arms, and since there is no momentum on the bar moving upward, as there would be if performed from the hang or ground, the athlete can only use the arms to pull themselves down in to the bottom of the overhead squat position.


Two extremely common errors in the snatch are not extending the legs and hips all the way, aka not getting tall, and the athlete not pulling themself under the bar fast enough, or at all.


By starting in the tall position, the athlete can feel where they are supposed to get to when the snatch is performed in it’s entirety. Too often will you see athletes not capitalizing off of the power that can be generated by driving the legs against the ground, simply because they stop doing so too soon. Practicing from the tall position will help build the movement into the muscle memory so that the arms will not be bent prematurely.


In the snatch, the legs are being used to accelerate the bar up, and once the bar has reached peak speed, the arms are used to pull the body underneath the bar. Of course accelerating the bar up is of crucial importance, but to maximize the weight which can be lifted overhead, the arms need to be used to pull the body under the bar as fast as possible.


This needs to happen quickly, and it needs to happen at the right time. The snatch is one of the most technical movements that you will ever learn, as we are lifting the bar from the ground to overhead, passing through a squat, in less than a second. There is a lot going on, and a lot to think about. Breaking the movement up into segments and working on components of the lift is a good way to develop solid technique.


The tall snatch can be performed as a warm up before other snatch training (hang or from the floor) and can also be used as a training exercise on a day where load is supposed to be lighter.


Athletes that have a hard time pulling under the bar will benefit highly form doing the tall snatch, assuming it is done correctly. I like my athletes to do tall snatches as part of their warm up for any snatch, or hang snatch work.


The tall snatch should be performed starting with the feet in the pulling stance width (usually hip width apart, or where you feel like you can get the highest vertical jump). You can start with your feet flat, or up on the balls of your feet, as would be during triple extension.


From here, the athlete will use the weight of the bar to pull themself under it as hard, and as fast as they can. Since the pull of the tall snatch starts from a dead stop, the pull under can not be performed slow. The elbows will come up and out to move the body straight down, underneath the barbell.


As soon as the pull is initiated, the feet will have to begin to move out into the squat stance (usually about shoulder width apart, with the toes pointed out 15 – 30 degrees). Not moving the feet will hinder how fast the movement can be performed, as the squat stance is needed to move smoothly into the bottom position.


Athletes that tend to cut the pull short, aka not get tall will benefit from the tall snatch, as it reinforces the position before you are supposed to start moving under, while making the movement less to think about. Athletes often explode around the knee, or mid thigh, instead of opening the hips and extending the legs all the way first. As previously stated, this inhibits the amount of force being produced to move the bar upward.


Performing the tall snatch will teach patience, allowing the athlete to get tall when performing the hang or floor variation and maximizing the power from the legs.


By practicing from the tall position, the athlete will reinforce this location of where the bar should be as they explode.


Athletes that are just learning the snatch are often overwhelmed with the amount of information given to them on this extremely technical movement. Practicing the snatch in sections will allow progress to be made as you can focus on one thing at a time.


Try adding in some tall snatches to your warm ups and training program and see the difference.