How to develop excellence in lifters (or any sports really) can be tricky – but a common sense-based approach and progressive method is the prerequisite. A sporting background in another sport is not necessary in order to become one of the best lifter around. Contrary to popular belief, many international-ranked lifters have no background in gymnastics, sprinting, figure skating, swimming or any other popular kids sport you might think of. Weightlifting is a sport of itself in which young kids can develop the required athleticism to lift bigger weights later on.
On May 15 to 17th, our nationals were held in Mississauga near Toronto. I’m told a total of 202 athletes were registered which is a sign that our sport is slowly growing. It always impress me how our teams remain competitive in America’s competitions and Commonwealth games given the relatively low number of participants. Usually quantity brings quality – but in our case we have managed to deal with the situation pretty well. Anyhow, a lot of good fights happened on the platform given that this was the last stop to qualify for Pan ams in Toronto. Obviously, every great Canadian weightlifter wanted to be on the team to represent their country on home turf.
I have been pretty busy in the last month and I have struggled to find the time to write something meaningful and worth sharing. After much deliberation with my athletes and people around me, there is a subject I would like to touch upon. It was suggested to me that I should write about what I think is necessary to reach the top in our sport (or any meaningful activity for whats worth). The following might sound pretty much straight forward, but it is a good reminder to all aspiring athletes.
Weightlifting is more popular than it ever was. Many things have contributed to the rise of popularity of our sport, such as Crossfit, modernization of our competitions ($ prizes at the Arnolds or web streaming for instance), athletes showcasing their training online (YouTube, instagram, Facebook’s athletes pages), etc. This hasn’t really translated in more youth lifters (may be a little). It has mostly translated in a lot of 18-30 years old new lifters. Youth lifters don’t really read weightlifting articles or watch YouTube instructional videos. What we are seeing is a lot of older athletes who are very smart and tend to think like coaches and gather more information than they can put in practice – although they are still young in their lifting career.
Better late than never…Happy new year to everybody! For me, 2014 has been crazy with experiences, athlete recruitment, athlete development, programming and travelling for competition and a few seminars. Looking back, it was a great year for myself and for weightlifting generally. Of course, I haven’t been able to post as regularly on here due to all those hours I spent in the gym coaching. Working with so many people, so many different age groups and so many different personnalities, I feel like I bettered myself as a coach. Methodologies are not fixed and learning how to adapt your approach to get your point across is necessary and takes trial and errors (Humans are indeniably biologically different). Here are 5 things that I either learned, dealt with or paid more attention to during last year cycle. I feel like they are good lessons and might change your training, your results and the outcome of your competition.
Coaching weightlifting is my full time job and I would argue that I could not have a better job. I love weightlifting, I love teaching it and I love working with different people from very young kids (my youngest athlete is 7 years old) to much older athletes. In my mind, recruiting is tied to how people perceive you and if they are willing to trust you. Trust is possible if you know what you are talking about and if you come off as a good person.
Developing a high level athlete of any sports takes time and steps cannot be skipped. A young talented athlete needs proper support from the family as well as proper financial support for all the expenses that can be encountered (food, transport, physio, equipment, etc.). A young athlete also needs dedication and discipline (ie : not missing practice and doing the work). The coach, however, is there to lead the athlete on the right path and to make the athlete reach his/her potential fully. Yet, in weightlifting, many often forget about how important stages are and get carried away with weights.
Small details matter in weightlifting, especially from a coaching stand point. When discussing small details of technique, some may say that it is just geeking out or over analysis. Small details are what explain success or lack of success in our sport. I firmly believe in coaching and teaching precise technique and this requires that I pay attention to tiny details and that the athlete work on making those details second nature (ie ; become technically efficient). For instance, many people have trouble being fast under the bar or have to pull really high and ride it down. More often than not, this is due to improper hip action at the end of the second pull which messes with the flow of the lift.
Training methodologies have evolved since the sport was developed. We could probably say that without any doub training methodologies were first refined as a result of different decisions made by sport authorities in regard to competition. For instance, weightlifting used to have single arm events and abolishing those events must have had an impact on how people trained after it was removed from competition. Hence, dumbbell and one handed snatches have pretty much disappeared from most programs around the world.
Most weightlifting coaches and most participants (athletes, official, or club directors) have to debunk myths or beliefs about the great sport of weightlifting. While there are many beliefs that can find roots in the history, most negative – but popular- beliefs often rely on hear say, a misunderstanding of the sport of weightlifting, or anecdotal evidences. One such belief is that weightlifting is not good for children and teens as in it can stunt their growth, injure their body because it is ”not mature enough”, or that the sport is not a positive one for athletes their age. I would like to change this perception of our sport, as not only do I not believe that this sport is bad for children – but empirical evidences actually support the participation of children and teens in weightlifting.