Kettlebell Snatch: Improving Technique is the Answer

The Tactical Strength Challenge is right around the corner again. The StrongFirst Community has adopted this event and it has turned into something really special. We have hosted the TSC for over 3 years now and each time it is an amazing experience to see regular people show up to put their strength training on showcase. It isn’t about beating anyone else, but for most people it is about hitting that new PR.

The TSC consists of 3 events. The Deadlift, Strict Pull-Up, and Kettlebell Snatch. Each of these events takes a toll on the body and by the end you know you have put in some amazing work. I get questions all of the time about how to train for the TSC. Whether it is programming the deadliest without burning yourself out or getting a few extra (or a lot of extra reps) out of the Snatch Portion of the competition. The snatch portion of the competition is the last event. You have already pulled a big Deadlift and done your max attempt of pull-ups, now comes a brutal 5 minutes where you go all out in a showcase of your cardiovascular conditioning. The goal….Get as many reps as possible in those 5 minutes. In the Open Division, men use a 53lb Kettlebell and women use a 35lb kettlebell. In the novice division, women use a 26lb and men use a 44lb. There is also an Elite Division where men use the 70lb and women use the 44lb kettlebell.

What is the Secret to getting those extra reps in the Snatch test? I wrote a blog on a great program to help you achieve a better snatch number awhile ago and it has not failed many of my clients that have used it to prepare for the TSC or the StrongFirst Certifications. Here is a link to that article. But more importantly than using a great program and having awesome conditioning, the Snatch Test number depends highly on clean and crisp technique. If you are inefficient in your snatch technique you will waste a considerable amount of energy and leave numerous snatches in the tank. At my best I hit 141 snatches in 5 minutes at the TSC in 2010 (thank goodness I have added 100lbs on my deadlift since then), and the most important thing I focused on was technique while preparing.

Here are a couple things to think about.

1. Keep the kettlebell close to your body on the way down and on the way up. Launching the bell away from your body creates a bigger arc, which equals a longer distance the bell has to travel, which equals more work to do each rep.

2. Keep your butt tight till the last second. As Brett Jones Master SFG says, have your wrist play chicken with your zipper line. Wait till the last second before you get your hips out of the way. Starting to bend your knees, and/or hinging too soon, will cause the bell to drop too low below the knees on the way down.  This results in more movement, which equals more energy needed to do one snatch.  That is not a good thing.

Ripped Hands

True Mark of Novice or someone that showed up unprepared.

3. Keep your hands loose and have an open hand at the top of the Snatch. A big mistake people make is holding on too tight and it really grinds on the skin. Ripping your hands sucks. Ripping is also an injury. If you rip, you lose training time. There are no trophies for ripped hands.  Posting pictures on Facebook of how nasty your hands look doesn’t make you look cool, it makes you look like a novice.

If you are in Arizona we are holding a 2 hour Kettlebell Snatch clinic on Sunday March 9th from 10am-12pm. Learn numerous drills that will assist you in practicing crisp and explosive reps in your snatch practice. Whether you want to participate in the TSC or not, these cues will help you advance in your practice!! Only $35 for current clients, or $45 for non-clients!! Email us at for more info. Space is limited!








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