From Catalyst Athletics
Power vs. Squat
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the differences in executing a power snatch or clean vs the full squat variation of the lift. Here’s the good news – There’s really no difference. The mechanics of the lifts are identical – the only difference is the height at which the lifter receives the bar and arrests downward movement. For a lift to qualify as power, the athlete must stop with the thighs above horizontal. It doesn’t matter how high the bar is turned over and either fixed overhead or racked on the shoulders; if the athlete continues into a squat or any depth below horizontal thighs, it is not a power snatch or clean.
Now here’s the important part: Every snatch and clean should be turned over and secured overhead or on the shoulders as quickly and as high as possible (with warm-up weights, this will obviously have to be controlled somewhat because the weights are light enough to muscle snatch or muscle clean). This idea can be best illustrated by thinking of a lifter’s progression when warming up a lift. At 50 kg, the bar will be pulled and received quite high, and the lifter will immediately continue down into a squat. At 70 kg, the bar will not travel quite as high, but it will still be received well above horizontal, and the lifter will ride it down to the bottom of the squat. At 90 kg, the height will again decrease, and the distance the lifter sits into the squat will be reduced even more. As maximal weights are approached, the bar may be secured overhead or on the shoulders with the thighs right at horizontal (and rarely lower).
In all cases, however, it’s critical to understand that the bar is received above the bottom position and the athlete squats with the weight to some degree. One of the most common mistakes beginners make is trying to “catch low”. This creates problems like incomplete pulls, the bar crashing on the lifter, disconnection between the lifter and the bar, reduced ability to absorb the downward force, less opportunity to correct instability, and more difficult recoveries.