The squat snatch is more efficient—there’s no doubt about that. But for some people, particularly those with flexibility, agility and balance issues, the split snatch might be a better option.
If someone has trouble with an overhead squat, the split snatch might be a great option when it’s time to pull a bar overhead. Similarly, if an athlete can’t produce a vertical torso in a squat, the split snatch will create a much better receiving position.
Josh Everett, who’s known as one of CrossFit’s best Olympic weightlifters, uses the split snatch himself and goes over its finer points.
The first and second pull are the same as in the squat snatch, and the footwork for the split snatch is similar to that of the jerk: the feet go into a lunge position. In a split snatch, the loads will be lighter than in a max clean and jerk, so the lunge will be deeper than it is in a jerk. The back knee, however, must stay off the ground in competition.
When snatching, you have to pull the bar about 6 inches higher when using the split technique, but it’s a little bit more forgiving of form errors than the squat snatch. That means the variation is well suited to fast, powerful athletes who can pull a bar very high and get under it quickly.
And even if you have a great squat snatch, why not try the split once in a while? CrossFit, of course, is all about variety.
Additional reading: Burg’s Eye View No. 4 by Mike Burgener, published March 7, 2011.