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The Bar Path in the Snatch

The Bar Path in the Snatch

By Coach Stephanie

This blog is to give you an inside view and some background information about how coaches look at specific details when performed snatches (and clean and jerks). Bar path analysis must be undertaken with the consideration of other data. In isolation, it provides an incomplete picture and can be misleading. This is just a part of performance that we can look at. These days the newly increased accessibility to software and apps that allow easy bar path tracing on video has led to a commensurate increase of it’s use and arguably to over-analysis with insufficient understanding. I think it’s an extra opportunity to dig in and zoom closer to what is going on in that particular lift but viewing bar paths and using them effectively as diagnostic tools is impossible if the viewer is unaware of what should be expected.

Bottom line, it is good to know how our body should move and what these reasons are to do so. But don’t over analyze and don’t do it without any further knowledge than you are capable of. Let the coaches coach, they are always open for discussion like this and willing to talk about it or with you.

Analyzing lifts

Many of you know how I coach, how I cue people, correct and most likely teach my athletes the WHY in becoming a better athlete and perform better weight lifting technique.  The ones that follow me and my journey at times, online or in real life during trainings in the box, know that I often record my lifts and look back at them. Analyze them.
Also, at times, I use this in the oly hours and so we practice and train to educate our members what goes on, and what they should be doing different. I will close this blog with why its important to educate when using an video/record analysis.

In this blog I would like to share what we aim for during the snatch. My most favorite movement in CrossFit and Weightlifting… 😉

I would like to emphasize that I’m talking from my own perspectives, and that I also get my information from books like ‘’Olympic Weightlifting’’ from Greg Everett and online weightlifting platforms like All things gym and Juggernaut Strength, etc.

First things first, when we talk about the bar path in the snatch, understand that this is neither perfectly vertical nor straight. This is very important, as attempts to achieve either will compromise optimal lifting mechanics and balance. If the barbell could be lifted in a perfectly vertical line than that would be convenient! But that’s not how the body functions mechanically.

We need to take note of two things:

1: The exact path will vary among lifters based on the details of their technical styles. I will show some differences in videos later on. Also which type of body, anatomical singularity and relative strengths and weaknesses a lifter has could play a role.

2: When the weight on the barbell increases relatively to a lifters body weight, the degree of horizontal deviation will decrease.

So with that said, bar paths could also differs when having 30% of your 1RM on the bar, against an 80% of your 1RM on the bar. Best analyses would come with heavier weights.

Now in the following text, I will give some information combined with examples of my own lifts that I have record with a bartracker.

From the first pull to the second pull and triple extension, the bar should travel inwards up to 3-18CM (away from the vertical line that could be drawn (See Figure 1 + Figure 2).
In Figure 1 I am pulling the bar minimally towards my hips (3-5cm), and in Figure 2 I would say almost maximal (15-18cm).

Note: we are talking about the white lines that tracked the barbell, in relation to the beige vertical line that is drawn through the red square.

When the barbell gets heavier and closer to the lifters bodyweight, the barbell will need to remain closer to the center of base in order for the combined center of mass to remain balanced. This is midfoot like often said in training

Note: I am having 40% of my 1RM on the bar in both figures, if heavier, than the bar drop height would be lower if performed correctly.

After the third pull and complete extension of the ankle/knees/hip joint (triple extension) the bar travels back to the middle of the vertical line that’s drawn. It could be just behind that line, just on top of that same line and it could even cross this line up to 5cm forward. Many elite lifters don’t cross the vertical line after the full extension (See Figure 3 + Figure 4).

In both figures the barbell crosses that vertical line in my case. In Figure 3 the barbell travels, I think, way more than 5 cm in front of the vertical line, and in Figure 4 I would say the minimum of 3-5cm.

Eitherway, in all cases you want to lift the barbell with optimal mechanics for good accelerating. This way the barbell goes upwards and still maintain the balance of the system over the base while moving the body underneath the barbell.

We look for minimal horizontal deviation of both body and barbell without compromising the ability to lift with maximal effectiveness. In the next example I show you a figure and text from Catalyst Athletics with text from Greg Everett:

First steps involve the precise information, just explained before with the examples of figure 1 + 2.

  • The beginning of the path represents the center of the barbell’s diameter in its starting position approximately over the balls of the athlete’s foot.
  • As the bar is separated from the floor and the athlete begins extending the legs, the bar moves back farther over the feet, bringing the athlete into better balance over the base while maintaining the desired posture for the remainder of the pull.
  • The bar reaches its farthest point back during the upward pull at approximately the height of the hips when the bar and body meet.

These steps involve the precise information, just explained before with the examples of figure 3 + 4.

  • Once the athlete has extended the body completely, the bar moves slightly farther forward in reaction to the body extending backwards, the need for the bar and body to pass each other, and the horizontal force, however minimal, of the contact of the barbell and hips.
  • The bar reaches its maximal height near the finalization of the turnover. As the bar is received, the athlete completes the squat under and extension of the arms under the bar and settles into the bottom position, the bar continuing to move back slightly into the correct overhead position and approximately over the middle of the foot.

In this next example there is a difference about why that range of inward pulling (figure 1 + 2) could happen.

Less distance could mean more leg drive in the second pull (figure 6).
More distance could mean more back drive in the second pull (figure 7).

Different Bar Paths

Here are some different weightlifters and bar paths to look at.

In the first video: A bar path tracked by Chinese weightlifters,  Tian Tao Lu Xiaojun and Liao Hui.

Second video: A barpath tracked by Kazakhstani weightlifter, Ilya Aleksandrovich Ilyin.

Would you like to read more information about analyzing a bar path? Visit this link: www.allthingsgym.com/analyzing-bar-paths-in-olympic-weightlifting.

I hope you guys liked reading my blogpost. Feel free to leave a comment below.

– Coach Stephanie