The half snatch is a version of the kettlebell snatch that you may or may not be familiar with. In the traditional snatch the kettlebell is snatched overhead in one continuous motion, fixated, and then dropped from the overhead position, between the legs and directly into the next repetition. The drop (the portion from overhead to between the legs) is very technical to perform correctly and so in the pentathlon the snatch is replaced with the half snatch. This involves dropping the bell back to the rack position and then dropping the bell back between the legs for another repetition. The elimination of the full drop makes this version of the exercise much easier to learn.
Firstly, once again we will start by identifying our targets. You will now know these positions well from your practice. In the half snatch there are three target positions, the overhead lockout, the rack and the bottom position of the swing. These are explained in detail in the previous posts.
Secondly you must learn how to get the bell flying. The half snatch (and the snatch proper) are based off your kettlebell swing. Much like the clean, correct execution relies on optimal swing mechanics. In this case optimal will include a re-bend of the knees on the upswing. This is the opposite of what is taught in a hardstyle swing and it is important that you know the difference and when to use each. This knee bend will transfer the energy into a vertical path, propelling the bell upwards as opposed to outwards. At the apex of the swing the bell should feel weightless. Make the bell float! Swings to chest height with a quick release of the grip will reinforce this feeling.
Thirdly, as the bell continues on its upward path you now need to get underneath it before it comes over the top and lands heavily on your forearm. This will be exaggerated if you have not managed to get the kettlebell travelling vertically. The secret here is not to pull too hard with your arm, rather guide the bell into position. A quick punch upwards will ensure a crisp hand insertion and fast fixation. Think of the snatch as a clean, only higher. The lockout should feature all the points talked about here.
On the upswing, as the bell gets heavier, you may need to incline your body back slightly to counter the weight of the kettlebell. This manoeuvre will keep the combined centre of mass of your base of support. From this lean back once the bell reaches head height you will lean forward again and catch the bell in the lockout, almost like you are ducking under it, without the knee bend that ‘ducking’ would imply.
Fourth, you will now drop the bell back to the rack position using one of the techniques mentioned in Part Two. The rack position is one of two resting positions provided by the half snatch, another reason for the inclusion of the half snatch instead of the traditional snatch. Most people will find it much easier to rest in the rack than overhead. Remember your target points for the rack, handle at 45 degrees, elbow resting on your iliac crest, wrist neutral but hand relaxed.
The fifth and final stage is the drop from the rack into the swing to begin another rep. A timely reminder here also about the position of your grip at the bottom of the swing. The handle should be approx 45 degrees to your body, the thumb pointing backwards (to 8 o’clock if the bell is in your right hand) and your grip as relaxed as possible. You should be holding the kettlebell slightly towards the back end of the handle, this will aid in a correct hand insertion at lockout.
That concludes part four of the pentathlon series, half snatches. We are training regularly at 8.30am on Saturday mornings at Evolve Gym, so if you are unsure about any of the techniques mentioned in this series please come along and get some personal coaching, you’ll be surprised how much you can pick up with some instruction in person, and your first intro session is FREE! See you on Saturday.