Kettlebell Snatch

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there are many ways to snatch a kettlebell. But why do things differently? If you like to know the intricate details of things as I do then read on. Over the years I have analyzed, experimented, and tried everything when it comes to kettlebell training, and below I’ll post those finding and also pair it with lots of videos.

Kettlebell Snatch Differences

Following are some kettlebell snatch differences that can be applied during the movement to adjust for fatigue, speed, weight, etc.

  1. Leaning back to maintain even weight distribution
  2. Elbow straight on the down phase (drop and backswing)
  3. Elbow bent on the down phase
  4. Thumb back on the down phase
  5. Thumb forward on the down phase
  6. Torso coming lower to the ground during the down phase
  7. Keeping the torso more upright during the down phase
  8. Hip hinging to create the pendulum
  9. Quarter squat to create the pendulum
  10. Going with the flow of the kettlebell
  11. Using thoracic rotation
  12. Creating resistance with the kettlebell
  13. Breathing in on the down phase
  14. Breathing out on the down phase
  15. Keeping the feet flat/planted
  16. Lifting one of the heels
  17. Leaning to the side and coming under the kettlebell
  18. Using the leg/hip to generate more drive
  19. The angle that the kettlebell comes down and through the leg
  20. Palm facing forward on the lockout
  21. Palm facing towards the head on the lockout
  22. Full snatch
  23. Half snatch
  24. Squatting under the kettlebell
  25. Pulling the kettlebell up rather than swinging
  26. Letting the kettlebell corkscrew around the hand for the insert
  27. Letting the kettlebell flip (doorknock) over the fist for the insert
  28. Snatching the kettlebell dead from the ground
  29. Snatching the kettlebell from a hang
  30. Snatching the kettlebell from a swing

One thing is the same no matter how or what snatch you perform, and that’s the lockout. The following video is a great slow-mo snatch video that allows you to see exactly what happens during one of the snatch variations. If you read the list above and watch all the videos then you’ll start noticing the little nuances that change things up.

Thoracic Rotation

The thoracic spine can be used to move the kettlebell. It can be used both on the down and up phases of the snatch. The following video shows thoracic rotation for the snatch in action.

Half Snatch

It’s not commonly known that there is a half snatch as well as the full snatch. The half snatch is where the kettlebells are snatched overhead and then dropped into racking and dropped into the backswing. The following video goes into detail on that snatch variation.


The corkscrew is where the kettlebell comes around the hand rather than over as it does with the doorknock variation of the hand insertion. The following video demonstrates the corkscrew.

Thumb Back

Having the thumb back (going through the legs first) during the down phase makes the insert easier on the up phase for people new to the movement. Yes, there is more work to be done, but with the thumb back, the action of the insert/corkscrew starts to happen early on in the up-phase and becomes a continuous motion that requires less thought.

Thumb Forward

Having the thumb forward creates a more natural position for the arm and shoulder once overhead. The thumb forward allows the triceps to rest on the chest/rib cage part of the backswing and upswing. The latter can provide some benefit to the push.

Hip Hinging

Hip hinging requires more pulling force on the up phase. See the definition of a hip hinge below.

Quarter Squat

A quarter squat movement on the up phase creates more momentum and makes it easier to get the kettlebell up. The definition of the hip hinge is the knees bend but stay above the ankles, the hips go back but never below the knees. The focus is on the posterior chain muscles, the torso comes down towards the ground more and creates more resistance on the erector spinea. The definition of a squat is where the knees travel past the ankles and the hips move down, the focus is on anterior chain muscles, and the torso stays more upright creating less resistance on the erector spinea. I mention this definition because I’m sure people will say “What is done in GS is not a quarter squat”, that’s fine, please provide a name for what is done and correct the definition above.

Heel Lift

Coming to the weight on the drop to reduce the impact. Notice how the heels lift off the ground during the drop from overhead into racking.

Leaning Back / Elbow Straight

If you keep your elbow straight (locked out) on the down phase you should be leaning back to create a good center of mass. If you would not lean back all the weight would be pulling you forward and off balance. The angle you lean back in depends on your body weight and the weight of the kettlebell, a lighter kettlebell requires less of an angle, and a heavier kettlebell requires more of an angle.

Elbow Bent

If you let the kettlebell come down as close to the body as possible the elbow needs to be bent.

Generate More Drive With The Leg/Hip

This is where the heel comes off the ground on the side you’re snatching and your hip comes forward more to generate more drive. This is not possible when snatching two kettlebells.

Torso More Upright

Keeping the torso more upright during the down phase reduces stress on the erector spinea.

Squatting under the kettlebell

This is actually a legal way to get the kettlebell overhead in Kettlebell Sport, it’s usually used when the shoulders or grip is fatiguing, the kettlebell does not come up that high so the body needs to come lower.

Pulling the kettlebell up rather than swinging

Again, this is a valid technique in Kettlebell Sport, but not something you’d want to start out with, it happens when fatigue sets in, the swing is no longer performed and the quads become more dominant. The Hardstyle snatch is also a pull, that pull is created with the legs.

If you’re interested in completing one of the most grueling kettlebell workouts with the full snatch and clean and jerk, then have a go at NEFARIOUS. See the video below.

5 Kettlebell Snatch Common Mistakes

I cover 5 kettlebell snatch mistakes and how to avoid them in the video below. If you enjoy these types of videos then you should know that our Cavemantraining members have access to over 200 private videos on technique, follow-along workouts, common mistakes, progressions, and so much more, altogether over 1,000 videos.

More common mistakes with the snatch that can be avoided by following the instructions in these two videos.

Avoid shoulder injury with the snatch.


I hope you enjoyed the content on the kettlebell snatch. I’ll leave you with one last snatch variation and note that there are so many more variations. If you want to get certified in the kettlebell snatch online, check out our online store for kettlebell certifications and courses.

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