This blog post is about the hip contact on the snatch. One day, maybe about a year and a half ago, Russ and a perhaps a few of our athletes and coaches went to do an Olympic Lifting session with John North at California Strength and conditioning. One of the big things that was brought back was the “hip contact” on the snatch. Personally I never particularly liked this technique myself, preferring to keep the bar closer to my body through the transition and chaulked up the contrast more to a difference of style than neccesity, (seeing as that there are other elite lifters that don’t use this “hip bump” and have more of what I’ll call a “soft curve”, as you’ll see in the Heavy Musing video). Nevertheless I didn’t argue the new coaching cue going around the gym. After all, I consider myself a descent Olympic Lifting coach, but not a master at it by any means. While I may have a descent snatch for a CrossFitter, (85kg or about 185 lbs, a little over bodyweight) and a several years experience teaching the Olympic Lifts, John North, has made a career out of specializing in Olympic Lifting and can toss up over 160kg. But recently the topic has come up again in my teaching circles and I wanted to expose what I think of as this “difference in style” in greater detail using my favorite Olympic Lifting video, “Heavy Musings” by Iron Maven. If you’ve followed my blog posts for long enough, you’ve probably seen it before (it’s a real gem, pay close attention to the details and subtle differences in bar bath trajectories and body positions ).
At one extreme of the not using contact we have the “soft curve”. I think the best example used in the video is the grid and bar path trajectory shown in minute 1:31. Notice that the curve that is traced by the bar at about the point of full extension is still a soft arc, as opposed to fat kid (please don’t tell him I said that!) at 4:48 who definitely uses a lot of contact to execute his successful lift. Both are great lifts with what I would consider different styles, and obviously a lot more than I can do myself and with better technique, but I still have a strong personal preference for the “soft curve” in 1:31. Evidently someone else shares a similar opinion. If you watch the video on YouTube you’ll notice that mikeyburger1 comments “@1:31 that curve is almost perfect..” Presumably that’s Olympic Lifting coach Mike Burgner. But obviously the contact technique has it’s merits as well. Watch the video again at 4:48. It’s amazing how far back he leans on his jump right before his transition. I was expecting the bar to be displaced forward somewhat after the , but he actually manages to keep it almost entirely over his base after the hip contact.
There are other amazing lifts throughout the video that fall in between these two extremes, and they are worth observing and scrutinizing as well. To me the trajectory of the bar in a well executed snatch is almost majestic in how it traces such a beautiful and sublime path through space and I think this is captured amazingly throughout the video. Perhaps my preference for the “soft curve” is partly aesthetic?!?
So what do you think? Do you prefer the subtle soft curve? Or do you prefer having that sharp, distinct thigh or hip contact near the point of full extension? Have you every switched from one technique to the other? If you have, did you find what you tried helpful? If so, was it helpful for long term gains or short term gains? Please share your thoughts.