The Snatch & Clean According to Patrick Swayze

In my last instructional blogpost, I discussed the hows and the whys of the 1st and 2nd pulls of the snatch and clean lifts. In this installment, I’m going to address the transition from the 2nd to 3rd pull and highlight an extremely useful drill that I’ve utilized on and off throughout the years.

However, before I dive into it, I want to say a little about how this blogpost came about. Back in October, I had the opportunity to spend four days undergoing mentorship with Coach Travis Mash at his gym and family farm in Winston-Salem, N.C. My experiences there could fill a few blogposts all their own, given how informative and deeply enriching the experience proved to be, personally and professionally, but today, I’d like to narrow my focus a bit and discuss a coaching epiphany I experienced while there.

During the mentorship, I was granted the opportunity to shadow Coach Don McCauley extensively and even coach a little bit under his learned eye. Now, I began following Coach McCauley’s writings and videos many years back, and from him I borrowed the aforementioned drill; but the truth is, over the years I’ve gotten out of the habit of using the drill, much to the detriment of my athletes. Observing Coach and listening to him talk about the rhythmic nature of the snatch and clean, I remembered the drill and, through that remembrance, identified a personal failing of mine that I’ve since begun to address.

But before I get into that, here’s the drill:

It dawned on me how, when coaching, I too often coach the lifts in a sort of mechanistic framework without addressing the rhythm, timing or “flow” of their execution with lifters. Talk about an epiphany! In order to perform the snatch and clean well, one must develop the proper “feel” for how the lifts should be executed, and in terms of the 2nd and 3rd pulls, that means applying force to the bar extremely rapidly through extension and retreating the hips down and back just as much so.

Lately, in class I’ve been demonstrating the “Dirty Dancing” drill and clapping my hands along with the extension and retraction of my hips; afterwards, I might just clap my hands together twice rapidly as a reminder and say “dun-dun,” emphasizing the proper timing.

The importance of this drill derives from the fact that lifters’ often misconstrue sufficient application of force through extension with a pronounced or prolonged hip action. At heavier loads, the issue only becomes worse: sensing that a weight could lie at or near his or her maximum, the lifter may try to push upwards still longer during the 2nd pull. However, any number of form faults could happen, not the least of which is that the lifter could find him or herself out of balance forwards at the top (more on possible form faults to come here in the future).

All that said, I would recommend making the “Dirty Dancing” drill a permanent part of your warm-up progression. Try it even before picking up the bar. Next, perform some hip hang power snatches followed by hip hang squat snatches. The timing for all should be the same. Hope this drill helps.

Also, many thanks to Coaches Travis Mash and Don McCauley for their guidance and insight

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