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Old Forum Snatch Technique Tip from Geoff Neupert

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Please report right back on this - I'm stuck in a kettlebell-free hotel, or I'd have already tried it myself. I read that email a few minutes ago and got the impression NeupDawg had somehow observed my crappy snatch using ESP or something. I've been doing that "lead with the thumb" backswing everyone recommends and I suck at it. I thought it might spare the grip some and reduce callous-tearing rotation of the handle in my hand. It didn't. It just made my torso rotate and my upswing weak and sad.
I've been training with kettlebells for a little under 5 months now so I'm not exactly an expert. But I saw this post right before my light day workout for RoP today. Keeping my thumbs pointing 'up' immediately improved my snatch and clean technique. For both exercises I was better able to drop the kettlebell while keeping it closer to my body and send it back farther between my legs. It also felt much better on my shoulder during the swinging portion of the lift. Thanks for posting, Daniel!!!
Remember, the key is to keep the hand at 45 degrees with the thumb pointing up. So it's the opposite of pointing the thumb down and back. The problem with pointing the thumb straight up, as Pavel points out, is that you can effectively arm bar yourself and strain your biceps or worse.
Great post! Ronin eluded to what I want to ask... the clean. I've struggled and struggled with that damn "wiggle" on my cleans.. due to the thumbs back technique? I would love for a Master to chime in here with thoughts on the pinky back for many other movements. We have some guys who really fight chest collapsing/shoulder unpacking during double bell work. Love to hear more on this from the Seniors and Masters.
This is the angle used in kempo to keep the shoulders packed also.  I like it.  I also like this angle best for the top of the swing.  Same angle as the 45 degree punch.


Just to clarify, I take it you mean 45 degrees with the pinky toward the working side (i.e. semi-pronated), rather than toward the opposite side (i.e. semi-supinated)?
So I’ll admit my mistake, I misunderstood your tip Geoff. I was ending my downswing with my pinky over my thumb, with hand in 45 degree angle.

Instead I think what you mean is I “lead” the kettlebell into the hinge with the pinky, but my thumb still remains up, with hand in a 45 degree angle. In other words, don’t twist arm too clockwise (using left arm as an example) so that the thumb is over the pinky at the end (the broomstick position). Instead, let the hand stop at the 45 degree angle.

Is that correct? I tried that and it did seem to help. Otherwise still a great tip and I hope it helps everyone reading this post.
I would love to see the thumb down changed in our SFG standards someday.  :)   The only reason I have ever done or taught it this way was for passing a cert, and that is not a great reason to do something.

Now is the time to make changes also.  Just a thought.
I have to admit I'm a sucker for snatch technique  improvements, however slight, but I'm getting confused. Maybe it's using the terms "up" and "back" that are screwing me up.

Geoff, hoping you can help me get this position right. If I understand this correctly, if I were to get into the backswing position (without a bell in my hand because I'm at my desk), and stick out my thumb, it would be pointing down at the opposite foot. Is that right? That would  bring the ulna up against my leg by itself. Not debating, just confirming.  Thanks!
Joe, that has become my confusion as well. I read it as the way you described it, with the thumb pointing to the opposite foot. Let's see if Geoff can chime back in.
I'm still on the fence about this one, maybe I'm not bright enough to figure it out.  I fear though, that there may be a portion of those attempting this new technique that might be putting themselves on the edge of an armbar type situation - add fatigue and that could be problematic.  I think -at this point- this technique might be better picked up if taught in person.  But, hey, I might be wrong - isn't the first time, and I'm guessing it won't be the last.

I agree with the intent of the technique -to fix the torso rotation.  But, from a developmental and  a stability standpoint everything starts at the head and trunk.  If there are distal stability issues, the first step should be to look at the midline of the body.  If the goal of the technique is to fix the torso rotation at the bottom of the snatch, why try to fix it with the snatch?  You can't fix whats broken by doing more of the same thing.  And, yes, I understand the hand position is being altered - but how often has it been said "you cant' think your way through a ballistic drill"?  Why not go 2-3 bell sizes higher and do some one arm swings - especially since the snatch is built off the swing. 

If it works for you great, its the right technique for you.  But, if torso rotation at the bottom of the snatch is your problem, it might take a little more work to fix than rotating  your hand.  Like I started this post out, I'm on the fence with this one still.
At the very bottom on the hike leading with the pinky through the legs the thumb does point at the opposite foot.  :)  But good idea to see a video to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.  I am pretty sure I know what he is saying because I have always done it that way unless I was testing at a re-cert then I would just do it the standard RKC way.
Personally, my interest in experimenting with this technique is purely based on Geoff's assertion that it can make the bell feel lighter.

I think there is a baseline of good technique where this hand position variation is not a safety issue, and I am really only interested in it as a performance issue.

Ladies and gents, we had a long conversation about the thumb orientation on the bottom of cleans and snatches at the SFG leadership meeting last weekend. Here is the summary.

There are elements of technique that are not negotiable in a given school (e.g., biomechanical breathing for SFG), and there are elements that may be individualized.  This is one of the latter.  SFG testing standards do not specify which way the thumb is pointing.  Slightly down, slightly up, or parallel is fine.

Heed the warning not to arm bar yourself with the thumb up technique.
Pavel, thank you for the info. My next question was going to be if this element of technique matters at the SFG cert, and you just answered that for me.
I guess here is the dilemma rolling thru my head - if the thumb back technique in the snatch causes the shoulder IR which leads to unpacking the shoulders and asymmetrical hip extension timing, then why with double bell drills is it recommended to go thumbs back on the downswing?  You won't end up with asymmetrical hip extenesion timing because of the 2 bells, but in this instance is the bilateral shoulder unpacking any better than the single side unpacking?

I can see if this is a performance cue - but as a correction cue, I think the root might be deeper than just hand degree of hand position.  I guess I need to see it.
Brandon - I appreciate your skepticism. It's very healthy.

But have you tried it yet?

I started using it because the thumbs down position kept jacking up my left shoulder.

Email me about your correction ideas. That is a deeper discussion.
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