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How to find the best receiving position for your snatch

In Chinese weightlifting, we recognize two different styles of catching and receiving the bar in the snatch: the fist-leading position and the shoulder-leading position. There is no right or wrong choice between these two options - it depends on the physicality and mobility of the individual lifter.

We will discuss these two receiving positions and then review the tall snatch drill so you can try both of them with relatively light weight and decide which one you prefer.

Fist-leading receiving position

Key points:

  • Punch the sky when you catch the bar
  • Fist tight

How it looks:

  • Upright torso
  • Very small angle between arms and ears.

Athlete who might perform better in this position:

  • Great flexibility/mobility with shoulder/hip/ankle joints

  • Strong core

  • Relatively strong quads

Representative athletes:

  • Lu Xioajun
  • Liao Hui
Photo from AllThiingsGym

Shoulder-leading receiving position

Key points:

  • Internally rotate and lock-out the shoulders
  • Relax the grip

How it looks:

  • Torso leaning forward
  • Larger angle between arms and ears

Athlete who might perform better in this position:

  • Poor flexibility in the shoulder/hip/ankle joints

  • Strong posterior chain

Representative athletes:

  • Shi Zhiyong
Photo from AllThiingsGym

Comparing the two receiving positions

The differences between the two receiving positions become clear when viewed side-by-side. The upright torso of the fist-leading position requires greater mobility throughout the body and allows the lifter to rely on the quadriceps. The angled torso of the shoulder-leading position allows lifters who may lack in mobility to get lower under the bar and push through the hamstrings.

Tall Snatch Drill

Also known as a snatch pull-under, the tall snatch will allow you to test the two receiving positions without the distractions of doing a full snatch from below the waist.

In the starting position, stand upright with straight legs, with the bar in a snatch grip at the hips and your arms relaxed. Then, without extending the hips, pull the bar up with your arms and shoulders and quickly pull yourself under into a receiving position.

Doing this with light weights will allow you to test the two receiving positions and feel out which one seems most natural for you.


As there are no two identical leaves in the world, each of us is different, with different bodily structures and mobility constraints. There is no right or wrong receiving position - finding the most comfortable position for you is the key. Experiment with these two styles and let your findings inform your training!

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