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UNSUCCESSFUL VS.

SUCCESSFUL PERFORMANCE
SNATCH LIFTS: A KINEMATIC APPROACH
VASSILIOS GOURGOULIS, NIKOLAOS AGGELOUSSIS, ATHANASIOS GARAS,

AND

IN

GEORGIOS MAVROMATIS

Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, Komotini, Greece

ABSTRACT
Gourgoulis, V, Aggeloussis, N, Garas, A, and Mavromatis, G.
Unsuccessful vs. successful performance in snatch lifts:
a kinematic approach. J Strength Cond Res 23(2): 486–494,
2009—The purpose of the present study was to determine the
kinematic characteristics of snatch movements that result in an
unsuccessful performance, involving the barbell’s drop in front
of the weightlifter. The sample comprised 7 high-level men
weightlifters competing at the international level. Their successful and unsuccessful snatch lifts with the same load were recorded with 2 S-VHS camcorders (60 Hz), and selected points
onto the body and the barbell were digitized manually using the
Ariel Performance Analysis System. The statistical treatment of
the data showed no significant differences (p . 0.05) between
successful and unsuccessful lifts in the angular displacement
and velocity data of the lower-limb joints, the trajectory and
vertical linear velocity of the barbell, or the generated work and
power output during the first and second pulls of the lift.
Consequently, the general movement pattern of the limbs and
the barbell was not modified in unsuccessful lifts in relation
to the successful ones. However, significant differences (p ,
0.05) were found in the direction of the barbell’s resultant
acceleration vector, suggesting that proper direction of force
application onto the barbell is crucial for a successful
performance in snatch lifts. Thus, coaches should pay particular
attention to the applied force onto the barbell from the first pull.

KEY WORDS kinematics, weightlifting, unsuccessful
INTRODUCTION

W

eightlifting, and particularly the snatch movement, is one of the most technical competitions (2). Successful snatch lift performance is
determined by the weightlifter’s ability to lift
the barbell overhead and keep it in that position until a
confirmation signal sounds. This has to be done in no more
Address correspondence to Vassilios Gourgoulis, vgoyrgoy@phyed.
duth.gr.
23(2)/486–494
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Ó 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association

486

the

than 3 trials. However, many trials often result in the drop of
the barbell during the snatch movement. This is observed
even with loads that the athlete might be able to lift in the
next trial. The knowledge of the factors that can make the
difference between a successful and an unsuccessful lift at
a specific barbell load could increase the frequency of an
athlete’s successful snatch lifts. At the same time, it could
reduce the number of trials needed to lift a specific weight,
conserving the athlete’s energy and increasing his or her
possibility of lifting much higher weights.
In the past, several biomechanical parameters of snatch lift
performance have been investigated during successful snatch
lifts, using 2-dimensional (1,5–8,16,17) or 3-dimensional
kinematic analysis techniques (3,14). Elite weightlifters have
similar characteristics regarding their limb and barbell
movements during the lift, independent of weight category
(14), gender (12), or age (13). On the other hand, nonelite
athletes show different kinematic characteristics according to
their category (4) and gender (15). However, in both elite and
nonelite athletes, a common movement pattern has been
observed. The knees execute a characteristic extensionflexion-extension movement, where the fist knee extension is
defined as the first pull, the knee flexion is defined as the
transition from the first to the second pull, and the second
knee extension is defined as the second pull (3,5,9,16).
For a properly performed snatch lift, the knee extension
should be faster in the second pull than during the first pull,
and the hip extension velocity should be greater than the
corresponding velocity of the knees (3,14). Regarding the
barbell’s trajectory, the bar is moved toward the lifter during
the first pull and the transition phase, and during the second
pull it is moved away from the lifter’s body. However, these
anterior-posterior displacements of the barbell should be
small, to avoid pointless energy consumption for the bar’s
horizontal displacement (3,9,14,16). Furthermore, for an
effective lift, the vertical linear velocity of the barbell should
be continuously increased until the end of the second pull,
because the existence of 2 clear velocity peaks would demand
additional energy from the lifter to overcome the negative
momentum of the barbell during its velocity’s decrease (2).
Moreover, the mechanical work done on the bar for its
vertical displacement should be greater during the first than
the second pull, and the mechanical power output should be
greater in the second pull (2,11,14).

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and c) hip. The research hypothesis of the current research was that significant differences in specific kinematic characteristics would determine the final outcome of the snatch movement. The 2 cameras were positioned in a horizontal plane. a large number of kinematic parameters describing both limb and the barbell movements were studied though 3-dimentional kinematic analysis.5 mm in the X.nsca-jscr. . Subjects | www. and acromion of the right side of the body. and institutional review board approval was obtained for this study.the TM Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Despite the detailed analysis of the snatch movement during successful lifts. c) A = maximal extension angle of the hip. knee. b) ankle. All subjects were members of the adult Greek national weightlifting team and provided written consent for their participation in the study. when the barbell drops onto the ground. selected points were digitized manually using the Ariel Performance Analysis System (Ariel Dynamics). a) A = angular position of the knee at the start of the lift. Y. A low-pass digital filter with a cutoff frequency of 4 Hz that was selected through residual analysis of a wide range of cutoff frequencies was used for the smoothing of the raw position-time data.7. both from the side and from the front. this period was divided into 5 phases. and 23 control points was used. The lift-off of the barbell was used for the temporal synchronization of the 2 cameras.org The movement was studied from the beginning of the barbell’s lift-off to the point at which the lifter dropped under the barbell.2. hip. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. C = minimum flexion angle of the knee (end of transition). To determine the kinematic characteristics of each lifter’s body and barbell. D = second maximal extension angle of the knee (end of the second pull). and 3. Angular displacements of the a) knee. Two of them participated in the category of 69 kg. B = first maximal extension angle of the knee (end of the first pull). B = second maximal extension angle of the ankle. Procedures Athletes’ successful and unsuccessful snatch lifts with the same barbell load were recorded with 2 S-VHS camcorders (Panasonic PV-900) operating at 60 fields per second. VOLUME 23 | NUMBER 2 | MARCH 2009 | 487 Copyright © N ational S trength and Conditioning A ssociation. there is a lack of corresponding data regarding the kinematics of the snatch movement during unsuccessful lifts. These points corresponded to the great toe. and 3 weightlifters participated in the category of 85 kg. 2 weightlifters participated in the category of 77 kg. according to knee angle and the height of the bar: The first pull: From the barbell’s lift-off until the first maximum knee extension The transition from the first to the second pull: From the first maximum knee extension until the first maximum knee flexion The second pull: From the first maximum knee flexion until the second maximum extension of the knee The turnover under the barbell: From the second maximum extension of the knee until the achievement of the maximum height of the barbell The catch phase: From the achievement of the maximum height of the barbell until stabilization in the catch position with the barbell overhead in successful lifts or the drop of the barbell in front of the athlete in unsuccessful lifts The study sample comprised 7 high-level men weightlifters during national competitions. as well as 1 point on the right edge of the barbell. a rectangular cube with 180-cm length. The mean reconstruction errors expressed in RMS values were 3. That arrangement allowed the movement to be viewed by each camera. The optical axis of each camera formed an angle of 45° with the frontal plane of the subject. 15 m away from the subjects. and the 3-dimensional coordinates of the selected points were calculated using the direct linear transformation technique. 2. 180-cm height. b) A = first maximal extension angle of the ankle. The purpose of the present study was to determine the kinematic characteristics affecting the drop of the barbell in front of the weightlifter during the snatch movement. respectively. Figure 1. METHODS Experimental Approach to the Problem To determine the kinematic factors that make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful lift. 90-cm breadth. and Z directions. Procedures were in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975. For the calibration of the recorded space. ankle.

RESULTS The results reveal that there were no significant differences in the durations of the separate phases of the lift between successful and unsuccessful lifts (Table 1). the angle u between the resultant linear acceleration of the barbell and the vertical line passing through the position of the bar before lift-off was calculated. B = second maximal angular extension velocity of the ankle. and hip joints were calculated. and vertical. t-tests revealed that ment of the bar. Furthermore. using the equation ay a where ay was the vertical component of the barbell’s linear acceleration. Moreover. and c) hip. second maximal knee extensions. Angular velocity of the a) knee. u ¼ a cos Statistical Analyses For the statistical treatment of the data. the angular displaceamount of knee flexion. b) ankle. in the minimum knee angle at the end of the transition phase.Unsuccessful Snatch Lift Kinematics vertical linear velocity. . movement was described by the anterior-posterior displaceRegarding the joints’ angular velocities. or in the corresponding To study the movement of the body.05. anterior-posterior (Figure 4). in the first and the ankle. The external mechanical work and the mechanical power output for the vertical lift of the barbell during the first and second pulls were also calculated according to the methodology described by Garhammer (11). maximum height of the bar (Figure 3). c) A = maximal angular extension velocity of the hip. The assumption of normally distributed samples was verified using the KolmogorovSmirnov test. and a was the resultant linear acceleration of the barbell. B = second maximal angular extension velocity of the knee. and resultant linear accelerations. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. t-tests and analyses of variance for dependent samples were used. a) A = first maximal angular extension velocity of the in the knee angle at the beginknee. b) A = first maximal angular extension velocity of ning of the lift. no significant modifications were observed Figure 2. The same was observed for the first ments (Figure 1) and angular velocities (Figure 2) of the and the second maximal ankle extensions and the maximal ankle. the maximum angular velocities of the knee and the ankle 488 the TM Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Copyright © N ational S trength and Conditioning A ssociation. The barbell’s hip extension (Table 2). and the level of significance was set at p # 0. knee.

Concerning the vertical linear velocities of the barbell. no significant differences were observed between successful and unsuccessful lifts in the work and the power generated for the barbell’s vertical lift during the first and second pulls (Table 6). No significant interaction (F1. . Regarding the trajectory of the barbell.05) was. A = barbell’s displacement toward the athlete. 0. On the other hand. D = loss of the barbell’s height during the catch position. but the main effect of the factor ‘‘phase of the lift’’ (F1. there was a significant main effect of the ‘‘phase of the lift’’ factor in both knee extension (F1.782.794). However. p = 0.05). 0. nor were any observed in the height of the barbell at the end of the first pull.05) and ankle plantar flexion (F1. p .146) and the maximal angular velocity of the ankle’s plantar flexion (F1. or in the velocities of the barbell at the end of the transition phase and at the end of the second pull (Table 5). regarding the maximal angular velocity of the knee’s extension (F1.854. p = 0. the mechanical work during the first pull was significantly greater than during the second pull.6 = 23.nsca-jscr.6 = 1. successful lifts were not found to be significantly different than unsuccessful lifts in the barbell’s maximum velocity. 0. p = 0. no significant differences were observed between successful and unsuccessful lifts in the maximum height of the barbell or in the horizontal displacement of the barbell toward or away from the lifter. the transition phase.the TM Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Figure 3.339).075.6 = 35. This meant that in both successful and unsuccessful lifts. Regarding the energy characteristics of the lift.org joints in the first and second pulls and the maximum hip extension velocity were not significantly different between the successful and unsuccessful lifts (Table 3).678.6 = 128. Regarding the maximal extension velocities of the hip and knee joints during the second pull.026. p . p . the instant of maximum velocity achievement. These meant that in both successful and unsuccessful lifts.05) maximal velocities. the percentage of the barbell’s maximum velocity at the end of the first pull. there was a significant main effect of the ‘‘joint’’ factor (F1. 0. the barbell’s absolute velocity at the end of the first pull. C = maximum height of the barbell. Barbell’s trajectory.6 = 0. Analysis of variance for dependent samples showed that the interaction between the factors ‘‘successful-unsuccessful lift’’ and ‘‘phase of the lift’’ in the mechanical work for the vertical lift of the barbell (F1. | www.078. p = 0.635. the knees were extended and the ankles were plantar-flexed significantly faster during the second pull compared with the first one. no significant interaction was observed between the ‘‘successful-unsuccessful lift’’ factor and the ‘‘joint’’ factor (F1. Analysis of variance for dependent samples showed no significant interaction between the ‘‘successful-unsuccessful lift’’ factor and the ‘‘phase of the lift’’ factor.6 = 29.554. which meant that in both successful and unsuccessful lifts. the hip extended significantly faster than the knee joint (Table 3). the absolute decrease of the barbell’s velocity in the transition phase and its percentage in regard with the maximum velocity of the barbell.161) was not statistically significant. B = barbell’s displacement away from the athlete.6 = 2.6 = 2. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.6 = VOLUME 23 | NUMBER 2 | MARCH 2009 | 489 Copyright © N ational S trength and Conditioning A ssociation. and the second pull (Table 4). p .

0.012 6 0.Unsuccessful Snatch Lift Kinematics 1. The duration of the first pull was longer than the other phases of the lift.055 0. except from the first pull (Table 8). Moreover.000 0.169 0. a significant main effect of the ‘‘phase of the lift’’ factor (F1.152 0. and anterior-posterior linear acceleration (c) of the barbell. no significant differences were found between successful and unsuccessful lifts in the mean angle of the barbell’s resultant linear acceleration vector with the vertical axis Oy (Figure 5) in any of the distinct phases of the lift. C = maximal vertical linear velocity of the barbell. Furthermore.015 6 0.514 0.238 0.451 0. p . .667. 0. along with smaller ones during the other phases of the lift. Duration (s) of the separate phases in successful and unsuccessful lifts. Large deviations in the line of force application on the barbell from the vertical in the first pull. 490 the 6 0. Regarding the durations of the separate phases of the lift. Vertical linear velocity (a).238 0.152 0. and the transition and second pull TM Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Copyright © N ational S trength and Conditioning A ssociation.081 6 0. can accelerate the barbell in such a way that the lifter might not be able to control the barbell’s movement and may drop it.065 6 0. vertical linear acceleration (b). First pull Transition Second pull Turnover under the barbell Successful lift Unsuccessful lift t-Value 0. DISCUSSION Figure 4. but this time the power was significantly greater during the second than during the first pull (Table 6).169 0.05.05) was observed.013 *p . However. no significant differences were found between successful and unsuccessful lifts in selected parameters concerning the position of the body’s limbs in reference to the barbell’s position in the various phases of the lift (Table 7).509 0. Again.019 The results reveal that there were no significant differences in the kinematic characteristics of the lift between successful and unsuccessful lifts. no significant differences were found between successful and unsuccessful lifts.058. TABLE 1.6 = 133. p = 0.343) of the previous factors was found in the mechanical power output for the lift of the barbell. a) A = first maximal vertical linear velocity of the barbell.063 6 0. the direction of the forces applied onto the bar seems to be of decisive importance. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.012 6 0.028 6 0. B = minimum vertical linear velocity of the barbell during the transition phase.

385 1. the same pattern was observed in both lifts.00 17.03 434.org TABLE 2.634 0.04 6 4.06 6 5.05.10 6 6.21 72.13 330.17 162. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. and hip joints in successful and unsuccessful lifts.425 1.16). which determines the start of the second pull.7 0.729 0.82 162.17 6 4.5.8 0.32 6 2.966 0.292 0. Successful lift Maximal Maximal Maximal Maximal Maximal angular angular angular angular angular velocity velocity velocity velocity velocity of of of of of the the the the the knee during the first pull knee during the second pull ankle during the first pull ankle during the second pull hip 209. and during the second pull the maximal VOLUME 23 | NUMBER 2 | MARCH 2009 | 491 Copyright © N ational S trength and Conditioning A ssociation.9.647 1.93 6 2.5 4. knee.81 115.27 6 4.19 279.69 68.459 0. and hip joints in successful and unsuccessful lifts.36 6 3.05 Unsuccessful lift 1.05.168 1.8 6 56. the hip.85 6 29.68 6 6. concerning the joints’ extension velocities.30 0.25 6 4.52 6 3.33 426.4 6 24.07 3.06 6 50. TABLE 3. there no significant alterations were observed in the maximal flexion and extension angles of the ankle. 0.014 6 24. during the transition.92 17.6 6 1.97 6 17.50 116. were particularly short in both cases.4 6 75.50 145.42 6 8.003 0. TABLE 4. and ankle joints were extended explosively and achieved their maximum extension values at the end of the second pull (3.90 *p . and hip joints or in their extension velocities.81 6 3.4 6 55. The maximal extension velocity of the knees during the second pull was always greater than the corresponding velocity during the first pull.65 128.10 182.02 73.8 6 24.69 *p .3 3.315 1.74 126.086 1. .05.7 5.7 6 1.590 0.8 4. Knee angle at the start of the lift First maximal extension angle of the knee Knee angle at the end of the transition phase Decrease of knee angle in the transition phase Second maximal extension angle of the knee First maximal extension angle of the ankle Second maximal extension angle of the ankle Maximal extension angle of the hip Successful lift Unsuccessful lift t-Value 67.76 6 36.536 *p .99 6 8.02 6 57.03 6 0. Angular velocities (°s21) of the ankle. and.91 285. Selected angles (°) of the ankle. After the maximum flexion of the knees.45 130.196 0.9 2. the knees were extended during the first pull. Barbell displacements in successful and unsuccessful lifts.342 1. knee.67 144. 0.87 6 69.nsca-jscr. Successful lift Barbell’s maximal height (m) Horizontal barbell displacement Horizontal barbell displacement Barbell height at the end of the Barbell height at the end of the Barbell height at the end of the toward the athlete (cm) away from the athlete (cm) first pull (cm) transition phase (cm) second pull (m) 1. Moreover.5 5.16 Unsuccessful lift t-Value 207. In both successful and unsuccessful lifts. helping the lifter to pass smoothly into the second pull.02 6 0.27 6 4.7 6 76.77 6 3.93 6 2.22 6 42. they were flexed and moved in front under the barbell. 0.17 128.734 2.64 6 8.67 6 60. Furthermore.07 2. knee.014 6 9.70 0. knee.06 t-Value 1.79 182.41 347.the TM Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research | www.

08 6 0.073 0.28 6 0.71 6 1.Unsuccessful Snatch Lift Kinematics TABLE 5.57 1035. .5 0.80 6 6.25 6 1.134 0.62 Decrease in barbell velocity during the transition phase (ms21) 0. 0.017 11.11 Unsuccessful lift 526.86 6 169.196 2.16 11.8 6 6.17 6 0.26 6 0.1 6 3.59 2240.203 3.6 0.4 22.3 1.20 Minimum vertical linear velocity of the barbell (ms21) 1.36 6 0. Vertical linear velocity of the barbell in successful and unsuccessful lifts. TABLE 6.802 6 0.9 6 3.051 0. knee.757 *p .1 24.95 6 8.957 229. Relative position of the foot.4 23.023 0.72 6 0.27 1.098 0.91 6 67.5 1. Successful lift Work during the first pull (J) Work during the second pull (J) Power during the first pull (W) Power during the second pull (W) 509. 492 the TM Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Copyright © N ational S trength and Conditioning A ssociation.6 6 7.9 215.2 0.4 6 1.25 24.007 1.44 6 378.951 *p .193 0.15 0.26 6 0.46 6 1.67 t-Value 2.466 0.5 0.865 4.36 2204.73 6 0.22 1.36 6 0.27 380.05. Position of the foot relative to the barbell at the start of the lift (cm) Position of the shoulder in front of the barbell at the start of the lift (cm) Position of the shoulder in front of the barbell at the end of the first pull (cm) Maximal linear displacement of the knee behind the barbell in the first pull (cm) Maximal linear displacement of the knee in front of the barbell at the end of the transition phase (cm) Position of the shoulder behind the barbell at the end of the transition phase (cm) Position of the shoulder behind the barbell at the end of the second pull (cm) Position of the barbell relative to the toes of the foot at the achievement of the maximal height of the barbell (cm) Maximal negative anterior-posterior linear acceleration of the barbell (ms22) Maximal positive anterior-posterior linear acceleration of the barbell (ms22) Successful lift Unsuccessful lift t-Value 23.8 6 1.115 1.76 6 148.13 0.5 6 6.3 9. and shoulder in reference to the barbell’s position.4 6 5.7 6 3. 0. TABLE 7.94 1.386 4.70 6 0.0 6 6.079 First maximal vertical linear velocity of the barbell (ms21) 1.7 6 10.22 Barbell vertical linear velocity at the end of the second pull (ms21) 1.75 373.546 1.9 6 3.22 6 57.89 0. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.9 6 2. in successful and unsuccessful lifts.06 6 10.9 1.6 229.32 6 377.12 Maximal vertical linear velocity of the barbell (ms21) Time of the maximal vertical linear velocity of the barbell (s) 0.05.12 Percent decrease in the barbell velocity during the transition phase 10.812 6 0.34 1.29 6 0.65 6 47.738 0.725 *p .12 Unsuccessful lift t-Value 1.93 6 0.152 74.150 Percentage of barbell velocity at the end of the first pull (%) 73.7 11.072 1.7 10.782 0. as well as anterior-posterior linear acceleration of the barbell.01 Barbell vertical linear velocity at the end of the transition phase (ms21) 1.5 6 8. in selected time points.32 Vertical linear velocity of the barbell at the end of the first pull (ms21) 1.08 6 0.14 0.17 6 0.4 6 2.18 1.047 215.5 6 3.114 1.46 6 75.05 6 5.75 6 0.3 0. 0. Energetic characteristics in successful and unsuccessful lifts.20 1019.055 21.05.09 5. Successful lift 1.

giving an additional acceleration onto the barbell and contributing to the execution of an explosive second pull (3.16). The transition from the first to the second pull is recognized as a particularly important phase. whereas. Mean barbell’s trajectory and mean resultant linear acceleration vector in successful (c) and unsuccessful (d) lifts normalized for the total duration of the lift. according to Baumann et al. resulting in an explosive power output during the second pull (5. 14). but its magnitude should be small to avoid the loss of energy for the horizontal displacement of the barbell (3). .9.the TM Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Figure 5.14). Barbell’s trajectory and resultant linear acceleration vector in successful (a) and unsuccessful (b) lifts of 1 subject. a continuous increase in the barbell’s vertical linear velocity until the end of the second pull of the barbell is important for an effective lift (2). the power output was significantly greater during the second than during the first pull in both successful and unsuccessful lifts (10. (16). (3). This allows the storage of elastic energy into the extensor muscles of the knees during the knees’ flexion and its use during the following concentric contraction of the knees. the existence of 2 clear velocity VOLUME 23 | NUMBER 2 | MARCH 2009 | 493 Copyright © N ational S trength and Conditioning A ssociation. the bar was moved toward the lifter during the first pull and the transition from the first to the second pull. It is remarkable that although the work for the barbell’s lift was greater during the first than during the second pull. Furthermore.12–14). such small anterior-posterior displacement of the barbell is indispensable for an effective lift. it should be executed rapidly and with a small bending of the knees (2).nsca-jscr.org extension velocity of the hip was greater than the maximal extension velocity of the knees. According to Isaka et al. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. Regarding the barbell’s trajectory in the successful as well as the unsuccessful lifts. it was moved away from the lifter during the second pull and again toward the lifter during the turnover under the barbell (9. To be effective. | www.

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