Friday, November 2, 2012

The Two Hands Snatch, Part Six - Dave Webster and Al Murray

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Finished Squat Positions

Terrific misconceptions exist regarding the finished position of the squat snatch. The blame rests squarely on those who publicized and recommended the so-called "dislocation" style with poking head. Other qualified coaches and ourselves are not exempt from this criticism.

A methodical review like this one, however, reveals how wrong the style is. First of all, let us consider the positions of present squat snatching champions -- measurements were taken as outlined earlier.

It is our veiw that observers were incorrect in their assessment of Pete George's style and quoted the RE-ACTION position rather than his correct lowest position. We have photos and film to show that in a low position, George, although his head was forward, HAD AN UPRIGHT TRUNK AT THE VERY LOW POSITION.

His poking head style gave the immediate reaction of putting shoulders forward and hips back and up. His arms then would be at a more acute angle to his trunk than the average lifter in the recovering position.

The reporters of the last forties and early fifties seemed to disregard the fact that Kinnunen, Runge, Koreans like Lee Young Whan, Salmasi of Iran, the Germans and the Austrians were all upright squatters.

We advocate that the feet should be jumped a little bit forward and astride thus allowing the hips to get very close to the heels. With vertical arms and head held upright, a straight position of the upper part of the back will result.

The analysis of the various lifts and lifters discussed were made from films by David Webster. The methods used have already been published and were the subject of talks at National And International Coaches Conferences. Many have enquired however regarding equipment and materials.

For projection and analysis SPECTO projectors were used extensively and the SPECTO ANALYZER is particularly useful for this type of work.


In a publication of this description we can only cover some of the points we have investigated. It is our hope that we can later publish more of our findings.

Remember that each section must be viewed keeping the complete lift in mind -- feet spacing for example tells very little unless related to other body positions and these body positions are the results of what happened during the pull. The pull is undoubtedly affected by the starting position as the bar comes off the floor and so it goes on.

Pathways of movement of the bar have just been touched on as we consider this worthy of fuller explanation with numerous illustrations. Briefly, although the aim may be to pull the bar directly upwards, the best lifters pull the bar back slightly as it passes the knees, it goes forward slightly in the hip thrust and the curve straightens as it passes chest height. There is generally a slight 'hook' at the top of the pull BUT ALL BACKWARD PULLING MUST BE AVOIDED.

The theories discussed here are intended for coaches and lifters with an advanced theoretical knowledge. We hope they will help to distinguish between cause and effect and help readers to correctly diagnose and rectify faults.

We must always base our teaching on fact, not speculation, and the more facts at our disposal, like those given here, the less need there will be for speculation.        

Review Questions

1.) Visualize the top lifters at world championships, draw the average approximate angle you think their backs are in as the bar leaves the floor.

2.) In taking the bar from the floor to knee height --

     a) Do most of these competitors use mainly legs, mainly back, or legs and back?
     b) IF you feel their techniques are divided in this respect please indicate roughly what proportions you consider they are divided, e.g., half of the lifters use legs and  back, the remainder equally divided.

3.) Is there any difference in the pulling positions of splitters and squatters?

4.) Is the base of a split stylist larger than that of a squatter?

5.) What is the main reason for a squat lift being more precarious than a split.

6.) a) If a top lifter pulls the bar back where is this fault most likely to occur?
     b) Is it possible to the lifter to pull correctly and still jump backwards?

7.) Draw what you think would be a good path of movement for a complete snatch.

8.) What is the difference between an upright squat and the dislocation style? Describe the positions involved.

9.) Which well-known lifters described in this book do you consider to be:
     a) the most upright, and 
     b) the most 'dislocated'?

10.) Make a matchstick style drawing of your impressions of their relative head, arm, and back positions.

11.) If a snatch takes approximately one second from leaving the ground to the lowest possible position, divide this timing up into three or four stages.

12.) Draw a Murray cross with what you believe to be the most common foot positions amongst top lifters landing in the split for a snatch.

Gloassary and Definition of Terms Used

When force is applied to a mass in the direction of the movement the velocity of the mass is increased. This is termed acceleration.

Newton's Third Law states: "To every ection there is an equal and opposite reaction." This law has a terrific effect in lifting. Coaches must learn to distinguish the difference between reactions and cultivated movements.

This is the ability to react quickly in acurate, controlled movements. Maximum force and power are not so necessary as fast precision.

One part of the object remains fixed in comparison to the others and rotation takes place around this part, e.g., the thigh rotating about the hip joint orthe arm rotating about the shoulder joint.

For simplicity we define this a sthe angle through which a body travels per second, e.g., if the back moves from horizontal to vertical, round the hip joint, in half a second, then its angular velocity is said to be 180 degrees (90 degrees in 1/2 second = 180 degrees in 1 second). Naturally there is little chance that the body will be moving att a uniform rate throughout this movement and for greater accuracy only a small part of the movement should be considered.

As a physical quality this is the kinesthetic sense of position displaying poise and control. Mechanically it is the state of equilibrium with equality of weight and force. Factors affecting balance and stability include the weight of the object, dimensions of base, the height of the center of gravity and also the distance from the c. of g. to the edge of the base. 

There are various types of endurance but in weightlifting muscular endurance is most important with cardiovascular endurance following closely behind. Endurance is the capacity for continued exertion with only partial recovery during the sustained effort.


The ability to move without distress through the full range of motion in a muscle, from flexion for extension and vice versa, without restriction of the tissues or joints.

That which produces or tends to produce a change in a body's state either at rest or in motion. In lifting this is generally derived from muscular contractions or the pull of gravity.

This is the resistance to a change of position or motion. Body masses resist being set in motion but once set in motion they tend to retain velocity.

This is the term used to descibe the movement of a body with various parts traveling at the same time, speed, distance, and direction. The upward path of the barbell is an example of LINEAR MOTION but it must be emphasized that in lifting as in many other sports, there are few good examples of PURE linear movement.

This designates the amount or quantity of matter.

The quantity of motion (mass times velocity), see also TRANSFERENCE, ANGULAR MOMENTUM and LINEAR MOMENTUM.

When several forces are acting simultaneously, the resultant direction qand force depends upon the relative forces and direction of the components. This relationship is the parallelogram of forces.

The capacity to execute esudden maximum effort. The ability to release explosive power. Power is FORCE x VELOCITY. This is often confused with strength but the essential difference is that power calls for SPEED OF EFFORT.

This is the capacity to exert great force. Speed and endurance are not important considerations here. The efficiency of levers, will power, ability to utilize a large number of muscle fibers, etc., are all involved.

Frequently a body is put into motion by the transference of momentum from part of the body to the whole. When force is transferred from a part to the whole body, mass x velocity of the part = mass x velocity of the whole body. A good example of transference is seen in the pull for the cleand or the snatch. The transference of momentum from the body to the bar is so great that the bar continues to move upwards even when the body begins to move downwards.

This is the distance a body moves per unit of time but direction as well as rate should be considered. The motion should be expressed in time and distance, e.g. miles per hour or in human movement analysis feet per second would be more appropriate.

Next: Big men in small singlets.   

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