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The essence of the event is to lift a barbell from the platform to locked arms overhead in a smooth continuous movement. The barbell is pulled as high as the lifter can manage (typically to mid chest height) (the pull) at which point the barbell is flipped overhead. With relatively light weights (as in the "power snatch") locking of the arms may not require rebending the knees.
As performed in contests, the weight is always heavy enough to demand that the lifter receive the bar in a squatting position, while at the same time flipping the weight so it moves in an arc directly overhead to locked arms (the quick drop). When the lifter is secure in this position, he or she rises (overhead squat), completing the lift. Alternatively, the lifter may use a split style to get under the bar.
The lift requires not only great strength, but mastery of technical skills, a high degree of shoulder/back/leg flexibility, excellent balance, and speed. However, power and strength do play an important role in differentiating athletes in competition, particularly at advanced levels, where the majority of competitors have mastered the technical aspects of the lift.
This lift requires coordination, torso (core) stability, and explosive power of the legs to generate the upward momentum required to snatch hundreds of pounds overhead. Tremendous speed is required to get underneath the bar after the second pull.
While the snatch is executed in a single movement, for coaching purposes it is divided into several phases:
The bar is approached with back straight, and the lifter crouches low and grasps the bar, with the balls of the feet directly under it.
Legs are bent with the buttocks close to the heels. While any grip may be used, it is standard to use a wide grip, with the hands near the ends of the bar. A hook grip is normally used in competition.
The chest is puffed out and the shoulders slightly forward of the bar.
The hips, shoulders and bar move at the same pace. The lifter pushes from the toes and slowly transitions the weight into the mid-foot. The angle of the torso relative to the ground remains constant. The bar is kept close to the legs, brushing them a little on the way up, ensuring proper alignment of the body.
When the weight is at mid-thigh, the bar is accelerated upward by powerful hip+knee+ankle extension until the body is fully erect. This is done in conjunction with an explosive shrug.
This part of the lift is known as the 'scoop' or 'second pull.' Often, a lifter will bend the knees slightly and bring his torso to vertical before the second pull. This is called the 'double knee bend' style of lifting.
At the apex of the bar's height, the lifter squats down under the bar while continuing to push up on it (or visualizing pushing his body down).
The barbell is caught with locked arms overhead at the bottom of the overhead squat motion. This part of the motion requires a developed sense of timing and coordination, and is the crux of the entire lift.
The arms remained locked with the weight overhead and the lifter stands up from the squat position.
The current record holder is Behdad Salimi of Iran, who snatched 214.0 kilograms (471.8 lb) in the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships, held in Paris. The previous record of 216.0 kilograms (476.2 lb) belongs to Antonio Krastev from Bulgaria, but after the weight classes were reshuffled, this older record is no longer recognized by the IWF.
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