top of page

Mastering Snatch Progressions: A Peak into Coach Joe Micela's Approach

This is Coach Joe Micela from Performance One Advanced Sports Training. Today, I want to delve into the intricate world of snatch progressions and shed some light on how we approach teaching the snatch at our facility. The snatch is a complex movement that requires precise technique and mastery of various positions. By breaking down the movement into progressive steps, we can help athletes develop a solid foundation and ultimately excel in this challenging lift. For a more detailed and visual explanation of these progressions, please check out and reference our Youtube Video.

Section 1: Overhead Receiving Positions

We teach receiving positions first. Why? We need our athletes to be comfortable and confident in the overhead receiving and bottom positions in order to effectively perform the snatch. You can have the biggest pull in the world but if you can’t receive it, then what’s the point?

Press Into Bottom

(Starts at 00:40 in video)

One of the fundamental drills we use to instill comfort in holding the bar overhead is the press into the bottom position. Here's how it works:

  • Athletes begin with a snatch grip and press the bar overhead while simultaneously descending into a quarter squat.

  • Emphasis is placed on maintaining straight arms and keeping the bar aligned with the body throughout the movement.

  • Progression continues with quarter, half, and full squat positions, ensuring balance and stability in each phase.

Drop Snatch

(Starts at 03:35 IN VIDEO)

The drop snatch is another crucial drill for developing overhead receiving positions. Here's a breakdown:

  • Athletes start from a standing position with feet underneath the hips.

  • On command, they rapidly drop into their receiving position while keeping the arms locked overhead.

  • The feet slide into position rather than jump or fly into position. Why? When lifting or drilling, we want to be driving through the ground or stabilizing. Two major things we teach our athletes to think about in the overhead positions: we are either driving through the ground or stabilizing. If our feet are flying through the air then we are doing neither of those things. 

  • Focus is on footwork speed and achieving proper alignment in the overhead squat.

  • The big key with these is that we understand we are wedging ourselves down under the bar rather than pressing the bar up. 

Section 2: In Front of the Body

Now when we bring the bar to the front of our body the two major things we want to think about are proximity to the body and a vertical thrust/drive into the ground. We want to minimize hinging and horizontal displacement as much as possible in order to perform the snatch as bio-mechanically effective and efficient as possible.

Think of it in terms of physics, if I were standing 5-10 feet away from you, threw a weighted medicine ball at you, and asked you to catch it, that wouldn’t be so easy. But if I was standing directly next to you and threw it directly up and now all you had to worry about was the vertical gravitational force of the medicine ball it would be alot easier to catch/stop it. Proximity to the body, and vertical thrust. 

Snatch Pull

(Starts at 07:40 IN VIDEO)

Moving on to positions in front of the body, the snatch pull is instrumental in teaching athletes how to generate vertical force. Key points include:

  • Starting from the hip position, athletes extend explosively, shrug, and maintain a straight bar path.

  • Emphasis is on driving through the legs and achieving full extension without excessive backward lean.

  • Perform this from the Hip, Mid Thigh, and Above Knee positions

A great cue to think about keeping the bar close to the body is to imagine somebody is trying to pull the bar away from you. This engages your lats and upper back to keep that bar close. 

Snatch Pass By

(Starts at 10:55 IN VIDEO)

To prevent barbell-knee contact and maintain proximity, we incorporate the snatch pass by drill:

  • Athletes pass the barbell from above the knee to below the knee while maintaining hip position and avoiding knee contact.

  • Focus is on keeping the bar close to the body and minimizing friction at the knee.

Snatch High Pull

(Starts at 12:55 IN VIDEO)

The snatch high pull reinforces proper bar path and extension while adding velocity to the movement:

  • Athletes execute a high pull from the hip, mid thigh, above knee, and below knee focusing on bringing the elbows high and keeping the bar close.

  • Emphasis is on finishing with the bar near the sternum, avoiding excessive forward movement, and a curl of the wrist

Muscle Snatch

(Starts at 15:23 IN VIDEO)

The muscle snatch is a skill-building exercise that emphasizes turnover and stability:

  • Athletes execute this exercise from the hip, mid thigh, above knee, and below knee emphasizing a straight bar path and minimal elbow bend.

  • Focus is on keeping the bar close and finishing with the arms extended overhead.

Muscle Snatch Complex

(Starts at 19:03 IN VIDEO)

Combining the muscle snatch with other movements enhances coordination and timing:

  • Athletes perform a series of muscle snatches followed by overhead squats, presses in the bottom, and drop snatches.

  • Progression is gradual, with an emphasis on mastering each component before advancing.


Mastering snatch progressions requires patience, attention to detail, and dedication to fundamental positions. By breaking down the lift into manageable steps and incorporating targeted drills, athletes can build a solid foundation for success in weightlifting. Remember, progress may vary among individuals, but with consistent practice and proper guidance, improvement is inevitable. Again, for a more in depth explanation and visual reference please check out our full video on YouTube. Until next time, train hard and stay focused!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page