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How To Snatch by Maria Moran

Today’s blog is from Maria, who by now shouldn’t need any introduction. So lets go:

Just back from the World Championships

Last year, I decided to take on a new challenge – the snatch (lovingly renamed the cunt because that is what it is – a total cunt of a lift). I did it because I hated snatch and because LC wasn’t allowed on an international competitive stage for women at the time.

If I’d only waited one more year, I’d probably never have started snatching!!!

I hated it because I was rubbish at it but I can only ignore such a massive gap in my skills for so long.

I ran out of distractions and convinced myself that it would be fun to be a beginner again at something – to get stuck in and start from scratch. I’m pretty convincing like that.

What looks like the simplest of all lifts – straight up and down as many times as you can – is surprisingly intricate when you really start to pull it apart.

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on Oct 1, 2016 at 8:40am PDT

I’ll write more about the year itself, and all the challenges it brought, another time, but I was recently asked to write a blog on how to snatch. I guess, you might assume I have it sussed – me being the champion of Ireland, the world and twice champion of Europe – like. Totally awesome at snatch, right?

Spoiler alert – last year I didn’t have a clue what I was at.

Evidently that’s ok – you can still win all of the things without knowing a bloody thing.

This year is has started to come together for me a little bit more. That’s down to a year under the bell, being guided by Dave, and a invaluable workshop with Aleksandra Vasileva in Wexford in January.

Aleksandra Vasileva

The lifting part is not so hard any more. There are some days where I have an actual semblance of smooth technique. Hasn’t happened on the platform yet, but all in good time!

I reckon I’m only 2 steps into the whole snatch journey – not sure if there are 10 steps or 100. I’m not going to ask, ignorance is bliss – I’ll keep going as long as I’m interested.

For actual how to perform the snatch advice I recommend checking out Daves tutorials (here’s part 1), or sign up for this workshop.

You can trawl through whatever you can find by the likes of Ksenia, or Aleksandra Vasileva on the internet. These people are masters, I only actually realised I’m champion of the world at training tonight – 8 months later. So yeah, a bit slow on the uptake.

Only the bloody World Champion!

Here’s what I would say to January 2016 me if I could travel back in time to the start of my snatch adventure:

Relax, relax, relax. Snatch is a stress detector – if you’re tense, it will fuck you up. It will smirk like Smirky McSmirkface as it does so

The bell is your friend – not your enemy

Don’t fight the bell – go with the bell

Don’t brace yourself as if you’re going into battle every time you approach the bell – relax

Relax your breathing

See that tight chest? Release that

See those high, tight shoulders? Relax those

See that tight, clenchy face? Relax that

See the panic in your head? Calm that

See the tension and stress coursing through every system in your body – physical, mental and emotional? Guess what… stop that!

See that twist you’re doing to start the drop? Don’t do that

See the hip twist you’re using to start the drop? Don’t so that either

See all that effort you’re using? Quit that

See how you’re pulling the bell up for the hand insertion? Don’t do that

See how you stop the bell from swinging all the way back? Let it fly! Love the backswing

See the twist you do on purpose in and out of the backswing? You can stop that

See the way you turn the handle of the bell this way and that during the backswing? Don’t

See how you keep the free arm rigid? Release that so it can swing

See how you’re holding on for dear life? Don’t do that

See how your focus and weight is all high up? Relax down into your legs, allows your skeleton to take as much of the weight as possible (thanks Phil Greenfield)

See all that staying upright? Try some leaning back –it’s the craic!

Some mantras are useful – OHGODOHGODOHGOD is not one of them

See how you’re trying to do every rep as fast as possible so you can get more? Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Take as long as you need for each rep (Phil Greenfield inspired idea again)

I’m sort of against giving you specific snatch advice – you need to check what you are doing, how your body works, and what’s right for you. You have to learn scan your own body for tension. Only you know what is going on it your head and only you can figure out how best to control that. Look to other for ideas, by all means, but one thing won’t work for everyone.

For me, the things that are making big differences right now are so tiny that you most likely wouldn’t notice them from the outside – it’s a half a degree more lean back here, or a slight shoulder drop there, or a change in attitude.

With the above, here’s a list to help you be more relaxed and economical in general. Anything else you figure out after that will be a bonus:

  1. DO NOTHING on purpose, except the hand insertion

  2. Relax, then relax some more

  3. Let the bell do all the work

  4. Relax everything you do not need to use at each moment in the lift

  5. Go where the bell takes you – don’t resist it, don’t do anything it doesn’t ask you to do

  6. Be as lazy as absolutely possible, without crushing yourself under a bell of course!

To sum up, snatch is a tension detector.

If you don’t relax, you will not get all the reps.

If you can relax, even with poor technique you can get a lot of reps.

I got a 16 rep PB of 205 in February this year with the absolute UGLIEST set anyone ever had the audacity to make a judge watch, because I stayed relaxed.

If you can’t relax, LEARN.

If you won’t relax, switch to Long Cycle. That you can muscle through – it is easier if you don’t, but you can if you want.

At any international competition, watch these tiny girls, under 58kg bodyweight, with very little muscle mass, snatching a 24kg bell for 200 odd reps and then stroll off as if it was nothing…

Ksenia Dedyukhina, the fist female lifter to break 200 reps with the 24kg bell, weighing under 60kg’s

Then watch much heavier guys, with all the muscles, snatching the same bell and struggling to get anywhere near 150 – you have to wonder what’s going on.

I think the girls have learned how to let the bell do all the work. They can relax, physically and mentally, under the weight of it.

The boys, because they are strong, try to muscle through and dominate the bell.

Ivan Denisov, he’s stronger than you!

It’s only natural if you are strong to try to use that strength. If all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.

If you are patient enough to learn to relax and snatch well, you can transfer those skills to every other part of your training and also your life.

That’s what I’m at right now – letting all I learned in the last year, permeate through the fabric of my entire life.

It’s fairly exciting to be in the middle of this exploration, wondering where it’ll all end up!

Maria Moran

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