Face Your Fears: Getting under the bar in Olympic Weightlifting, Part 2! Drills & Skills

In our first installment, we went over some very important basics — safety and how to bail properly from a missed clean or snatch! Head over the Part 1 first if you missed it. 

This time around, we’ll go over some of our favorite drills to build confidence and stability in your catch position, especially in the snatch. The key here is to START LIGHT. The point here is to start building new movement patterns, not trying to max out these lifts right off the bat. Start with a PVC if you need to.


A big part of being able to get under the bar is having confidence. You cannot be tentative or half-assed when you’re going for a squat snatch. If you approach a lift assuming you’ll miss…you’ll miss. How do we build confidence? Practicing quality reps, and accumulating time in these tricky positions. Gaining experience!

For a more experienced lifter, you can use these drills as accessory lifts to help you break through lifting plateaus and shore up your positioning.

Spend time in the catch and squat positions.
Start with the basics. Accumulate as much time as you can hanging out in the bottom of a front squat, or overhead squat. Overhead squat holds are a great way to start building up strength and stability in your snatch catch position. Start with a PVC or empty bar, hanging out for :15-:20 at a time. If you don’t spend time in your bottom position, it’s not going to get better! If you can’t perform a full depth overhead squat with a PVC or empty bar, keeping your heels down, arms locked out and spine in a safe positions, or your front rack position needs a lot of work for your front squat — these need to be addressed first via mobility and practice. We have to walk before we can run!

Got the basic squats down? Try these next drills to start working on speed and stability.

Snatch Balance
The snatch balance starts with the bar on your back, with your hands in their snatch width grip. Usually these are taken from a squat rack. With a quick dip and drive, similar to a push press, jump the bar up off your shoulders. As the bar travels up, lock your arms out as your body drives down under the bar. You’ll end up riding the bar down through an overhead squat. You can add pauses in the bottom position before standing back up, to work on being stable in the bottom position. This drill is very effective even with just an empty bar!

High hang snatch (AKA the Dip Snatch/Pocket Position Snatch) 
The high hang snatch is a good next step after working on the snatch balance, because it adds in the turnover from the front of the body, while still requiring speed and strong positions. Since you get very little pull on the bar from such an upright position, you will be forced to move your body under the bar faster.

Deadlift the bar up to your hips, with your hands in the snatch grip. Keeping your torso upright, dip your hips down a few inches by pushing the knees out and forward. The bar should be resting at your hip, with arms straight. Drive through your legs to create enough power to get the bar moving up, then get yourself down under the bar quickly. You can do this as a power snatch to start, and gradually get deeper in the catch. Make sure you are driving UP through your legs, NOT sending your hips froward into the bar. Your hips move up and down, not back to front.  Start with an empty bar and see how it goes! This is also an awesome warm up drill any time you’re snatching.

You can do this same drill for cleans as well!

What other drills do you like for developing confidence in the catch position? 

Need some help with your lifting? Check out our Olympic Lifting class at 11am on Saturdays, or sign up for a skill session with Coach Chris! 


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