As a weightlifter, it is not uncommon to have a love / hate relationship with the hook grip. Recently, I have been experiencing some wrist pain, particularly in the Snatch, and it has lingered for longer then I would like to admit. After taking a poll among my teammates, I have realized that Rob (Blackwell) and I are the only lifters on the California Strength team that do not release our hook grip during the turn over in the Snatch.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the Snatch, the turn over is the transition between the pull and catch, when we receive and lock out the bar overhead. Wes Kitts, who finished 10th overall at the 2017 IWF World Championships this past December, cited the following reasons for releasing his hook grip as:
1. To increase comfort in the wrist during lock out of the over head position.
2. To have less tension in the forearms and influence a FASTER turnover.
When receiving the Snatch overhead, we need to maintain a certain level of mobility in order to allow for some deviation of the wrist joint. By contrast, when the bar is directly overhead as it is in the Jerk, the wrist remains relatively neutral. When the overhead position is widened, there is increased radial deviation, which creates a sharper wrist angle and by releasing our hook grip during the turnover; we can decrease the amount of stress on the wrist. This is done by allowing the bar to rest in the hand without tension in the soft tissues that cover the carpometacarpal joint.
Releasing the hook grip may also benefit our pulling mechanics in the Snatch. Stephen (Ngo) reports a sensation of increased speed under the bar very similar to when performing No Hook No Feet Snatches. With the hook grip released, the catch must be faster and more stable by the time the bar reaches the peak of the turnover.
I have taken this to heart and have been working on releasing my hook grip in the Snatch and happy to report that it is not as scary as I thought it would be! At this time I am comfortable doing so up to about 80% of my 1RM (One Rep Max) and have less pain in my wrist while experiencing a faster transition under the bar. If you are experiencing discomfort in your wrist or if wrist mobility is an issue, I would definitely give this a try! Want to add a new FEAR factor to Snatching?? Give it a try. You might like it.