This brought up some thoughts that have been running around in my head for a while so I thought I’d put them out there.
Some Historical Thoughts: The U.S. was predominantly rural from its founding and did not become 50% urbanized until the 1920’s. People living in rural areas more than likely made a living by engaging in demanding physical labor. Consequently the U.S. as a whole did not develop a cultural appreciation for P.E. since most of its citizens were engaged in physical jobs. Europeans, on the other hand, had an extensive history of living in cities and realized the need for proper physical activity. As a result Physical Education was respected as a legitimate academic major and if you look at some of the literature of that period on the subject, P.E. experts were referred to as “Professor”.
The Soviet Model: I was fortunate to be able to attend a presentation at the Central Institute of Physical Culture of the Soviet Union in 1989. Doctor Popov, the head of the institute, explained the course for students. Applicants had to take a two day admissions exam in math and science. Only the highest scorers were admitted to the institute. For the first two years all students took courses in math and science. At the conclusion of the second year they could choose one of three career pathways: physical education teacher, sport coach or sport scientist. The great thing to come out of this was these groups had a common educational experience and hence a common language. Moreover once they set out on their career pathways they could communicate so that sport scientists had access to physical education students and athletes for research purposes, and physical education teachers and sport coaches could consult with sport scientists about possible solutions within their specialties. Note that candidates to become sport coaches did not have to have any credentials as athletes.
The Diminution of P.E.: Beginning in the early 20th century, the U.S. did something that no other nation has done. We began conducting sports programs through high schools and colleges. Scholarships were given to athletes who were academically unqualified for university work. In order to maintain eligibility administrators made these “scholar-athletes” into P.E. majors and removed much of the rigor from the P.E. curriculum. This had the immediate effect of reducing the cachet of the discipline. In the 1970’s, school districts began removing required P.E. courses from their high school requirements and hence the number of P.E. jobs was significantly reduced. Most of the positions cut were based on seniority so only the old guard was left to teach high school P.E. Realizing this sudden drop in the job market was looming, many universities eliminated their traditional P.E. major and replaced it with some version of Sport Science.
Differentiation: The general public needs to differentiate between P.E. and Sports. They are not necessarily the same, but they both have a common educational base. Both are involved with the practice of modifying the functionality of protoplasm so both should have some educational background in the nature of protoplasm not to mention physics, chemistry, biomechanics, anatomy and sport psychology. The two disciplines are basically working at different portions of the spectrum. The P.E. instructors are concerned that all of the population is functioning at certain minimal levels of physicality and ideally inspired to improve. Sport coaches are mostly involved with teaching sport specific skills, and the ability to perform them upon demand while simultaneously developing the capacity of the body to deal with increased stressor levels. Both can have a marked effect on the psyches of the participants.
What now? It appears as though more and more of youth sport activities are taking place outside of schools. This is not of itself a problem. The best thing I can see about conducting sports programs in schools is that the schools are legally empowered to do a more thorough job of vetting the coaches, which they may or may not choose to do. More and more youth sports activities are taking place through the auspices of private clubs. This is so that the parents can have more input on the organization of the program and the hiring of coaches.
Right now one of the few protections that I see is sports leagues requiring certifications from a sport governing body. This is in no way foolproof, but it might be a deterrent for those coaches interested in continuing as a coach in the sport.
And so….As a nation we are in need of cultural leadership in the physical education and sports participation of youth (and of adults too—another topic for another day). What is really needed is a coalition of medical, healthcare and mental health professionals, parent groups, educators and major sports organizations demanding a system of standards, guidelines, practices, education and enforcement regarding physical activities for youth. Unfortunately we all too often don’t do things because they’re the right thing, but rather the profitable thing.
We just held a development meet at the Takano Weightlifting gym. It was a small event (18 lifters), but it provided an opportunity for our lifters to establish 22 Personal Records (PR’s). Many of the athletes were first timers. What was discouraging was that some of our athletes had intended to enter but backed out at the last minute. This prompted me to compose this blog post.
A Development Meet is a learning opportunity. It is a highly ritualized training session for some, but for newcomers it can be a life-changing experience that can set them on a course to a prolonged lifting career. While many gym owners are concerned with stick rate of their clientele, many do not realize that the best continuity strategy is to get athletes addicted to competitions. Development meets are a step forward in that direction.
With the latest generation of weightlifting enthusiasts stepping forward (many of them seeping over from Crossfit), there is a big emphasis on putting on spectacular events. The plates are colorful, the sound system is state of the art with a real DJ, with a variety of T-shirts for purchase, and a number of trappings that have little to do with the essence of weightlifting. They can also become distractions for the first timers.
The mechanics of a meet: Everything can be overwhelming for a newcomer. The timing of weigh-ins, the timing of eating for competition, the warming up process and the actual execution of the lifts on the competition platform. Development meets can provide a non-threatening environment in which to experience these factors.
To comprehend performance: Many weightlifting novices have never played an organized sport nor sang or played an instrument in front of an audience. A few development meets can allow a person to comprehend the significance of performance and to embrace it, savor it and crave it rather than dread it. But this can only be comprehended through first hand exposure.
To generate enthusiasm: If a lifter has put in the requisite amount of preparation prior to the event, the outcome can generate enthusiasm in a manner that nothing else can. A poor performance can create the need to compensate. A great performance can create the craving for another one. Furthermore competitions can divide the calendar into a comprehensible chunks.
Don’t put it off: No one is ever completely prepared for their first meet. That is not an excuse to put it off. Unfortunately some people do. If the coach feels an athlete is well enough prepared, the athlete should compete. Some coaches, however, can rush the process and then create a traumatic experience from which the athlete’s psyche may not recover.
Compete often: Until an athlete gets to national or elite level, something of value will be learned at each competition. A competitive skill will become further honed. I recommend that developing lifters get into every meet they can. It’s part of the educational process.
Development Meets are for---officials and coaches as well. Both of these groups need to develop their skills and instincts as much as lifters. Officiate and coach often if you want to get to be the best you can be.
I elaborated on this topic in my book, Weightlifting Programming, but since that publication (2012), some circumstances have changed and it’s not a bad idea to periodically revisit some concepts. I’ll try to keep this first part brief. We’ll start out discussing humans since they are a very unique species and the one that we are trying to develop into weightlifters and athletes in other sports.
1. Human ancestors began walking upright on two legs ca 5 million years ago (mya). This along with prehensile, opposable thumbs and extensive shoulder joint mobility enabled their descendants (us) to perform snatches and clean & jerks.
2. Our immediate predecessors were localized in Africa and began walking out of Africa around 60,000 years ago (kya). By 14 kya they were living on every continent except Antarctica. No other large vertebrate species has done this. They were able to survive on whatever foodstuffs they encountered meaning they were digestively very adaptable.
3. Some groups found themselves in situations of genetic isolation and underwent regional microevolution resulting in what some humans call “races”. This term is not used for any other species. The microevolution produced some distinctive morphs
4. Transcontinental migration was initially facilitated by large passenger ships and in the second half of the 20th century by large passenger jets. This led to cities with genetically diverse populations where miscegenation could gradually take place. At the same time the species became enormously popular numbering 7 billion in global population.
5. The steady increase in global population enhances the opportunity for the development of talented individuals. This factor coupled with increased miscegenation enhances the chances of encountering the athletically gifted and ideally suited.
6. BUT it also increases the chances of encountering individuals with unique genetic and development circumstances that are not subject to the methods of accepted training protocols.
7. Furthermore so many of the individuals from point 6 are arriving with questionable Physical Education, no background in sports and a rather poor conceptualization of the process of athlete development. A fair number are now entering the sport of weightlifting in the Masters program.
SO if you are an aspiring weightlifting coach be prepared to deal with the results of points 1-7, since it is so very rare that we in the weightlifting community are able to pre-filter our athletes in order to get the ones cited in point 5. Most of whom we coach will require a lot of problem solving so ONE SIZE WILL NOT FIT ALL!
AND if you are about to begin training for weightlifting try to find a coach who is reasonably good at diagnosis of problems, solving of problems and is open to consistently be learning. Weightlifting is hard enough. Try to find problem solvers.
Platform Coaching Demeanor: I’m now attending more weightlifting competitions simply because there are more of them that my athletes are eligible for. This is good for me as weightlifting coaching can become quite monastic. I spend many hours in the gym. Anyway it gives me the opportunity to observe the coaching styles of my colleagues as they attempt to manage the performances of their athletes.
One thing that becomes obvious is the fact that many coaches, especially the newer ones, fail to realize the extent to which their demeanor affects the performances of their athletes. Performing a maximum weight in competition requires a high degree of concentration which will lead to the altered state necessary for execution of the complex series of movements that enable successful completion. There are too many aspiring coaches today who have not competed in weightlifting long enough to understand the psychological state necessary to execute a competitive lift. A successful snatch or clean & jerk requires very precise movement patterns coupled with appropriate levels of aggression. Anything that disrupts the psychological state needed to perform the lift is a distraction.
Some fall into this category because they don’t have valuable advice, but feel the need to be involved or supportive. Encouragement without specific direction can actually be distracting. An athlete will more than likely feel the enthusiasm from the coach, yet may still feel in need of specifics. By the way, if a coach sees a technical fault on a successful first lift and realizes that it will not self correct, then the coach should advise a correction.
Some coaches act like making a successful first attempt is winning the lottery. Some reinforcement may be in order after an early attempt, but it should not go to the extent where the athlete becomes too satisfied or complacent. The athlete needs to stay “on edge” to some degree to be able to compete successfully. My personal preference is that as soon as the athlete leaves the competition platform, he or she is thinking about the next attempt.
Over aggressive coaches can get their athletes overhyped and out of that narrow zone where they are both focused and aggressive. Do athletes need to be aggressive in competition? Of course, but not to the extent where they cannot concentrate on the task at hand. Some athletes by their very nature can be easily over amped, and a coach needs to maintain an even demeanor to help the athlete maintain the optimal psychological state.
When things go awry (as they often do), the coach needs to be the one who maintains a cool head. The coach will set the tone and it should be one of self control and competency. If the coach loses it, the athlete may often involuntarily follow suit.
The coach who stands at the side of the platform, shooting video but never uttering any advice is serving a role. It is not, however, that of a coach. Videography can certainly be helpful, but viewing a lift through a camera lens does not provide an accurate impression of the timing and dynamic of the lift. A coach needs to be present and aware of the atmosphere within the sphere of performance. Video is one degree of separation. There is a realization that we have to come to grips within the 21st century. Just because technology is available we don’t necessarily benefit by using it in all situations.
Coaches, please keep in mind that your primary mission at a weightlifting competition is to manage and facilitate a performance.
The Lesson I Learned
I personally learned the importance of coaching demeanor and performance management in a very costly way. It took place at the 1983 National Championships in Seekonk, MA. My athlete, Albert Hood, set the national snatch record in the 56 kg class at 108. The old record had stood for 23 years and the breaking of that record was a major event. Albert was elated, I was elated and he was immediately taken out of competition mindset by the throng of well-wishers who gathered around him in the warm-up room.
I as the coach allowed the celebratory mood to continue too long and Albert was psychologically unprepared for the clean & jerk. He missed all three of his C & J attempts and bombed out. He failed to win the national championships and missed qualifying for the Junior World’s in which he would have been considered a medal contender. Costly and painful. From that point on I vowed to never let that happen again and it would always be my job to keep my athlete’s head in the game through my actions and my demeanor.
Coaches—keep in mind that your primary function is to manage the performance to the best possible outcome.
Weightlifting is one of the sports that allows the coach within close proximity of the competitors. Some sports require the coach to remain removed from the field of play and thus incapable of participating in the strategy and guidance of the athlete. For example in tennis, the coach can be suspended or fined for signaling to the athlete during the course of competition. The same can be said of track and field.
Consequently weightlifting coaches have several well defined tasks that can greatly influence the outcome of a competition. One of them is not cheerleading. More on this later
The weightlifting coach is responsible for a well executed warm-up. The warm-up should not be so physically demanding that it detracts from the energy necessary to compete. The initial function is to achieve physiological warmth with a minimum of physical exertion. This can involve some specific joint mobilization, some local thermogenesis and some general activity to induce overall increased blood flow.
At this point the warm-up lifts can commence with the goal of neuromotor reinforcement of patterns and the acclimation of the body to increasing loads in the specific lifts.
Each warm-up lift should be performed toward the goal of preparing the nervous system for the competitive lifts. Concurrently the psychological preparedness commences. Conversations should be minimized and should only be between coach and athlete and perhaps medical support personnel.
The coach should watch every warm-up lift and evaluate it for proper pattern, dynamic and speed keeping in mind that warm-up speed will frequently be less than competition speed.
The timing of the warm-up is directed by the coach and should take place in an appropriate rhythm so that the athlete is neither too “cold” , in need of recovery or over-aroused when the time for the competition lifts take place.
Competitive attempts should be selected so that they are in a pattern to facilitate a maximal third attempt. Excessively large increments between 1st and 2nd or between 2nd and 3rd can cause disruption of the nervous system. Attempts should not be changed capriciously as is the custom of some coaches who engage in such activity because they are ignorant of their true task. Attempts should only be changed if they will directly affect the outcome of the coach’s athlete. Most athletes are too introspective to accurately call their own attempts.
Reading the opponent
This is a coach’s task, if one of the goals is placement. A coach should be able to read the opponent and accurately determine the potential and make attempt selections with that evaluation in mind.
Any anxiety, nervousness or lack of emotional control on the part of the coach will transfer to the athlete and may subconsciously affect the psychological preparation of the athlete. This is why cheerleading coaches can actually sabotage their athletes’ psyches. If a coach is anxious and transmits a lack of confidence it will affect the psyche of the athlete. A controlled, but well directed demeanor is often the most effective approach.
Encouragement—Necessary or not
Any athlete who has trained as hard as it necessary for competition, has made the sacrifices necessary to be in the competition is most likely not in need of encouragement at the meet. Coaches that are screaming encouragement to many athletes are often missing the point. If an athlete is bewildered as to why a certain lift is missed, the job of the coach is to explain what to do to remedy the problem—not provide encouragement.
Identifying Weaknesses and their Destination
Oftentimes a coach will see a slight technical error in a first attempt and knows that it will only get worse in the second and third attempts. The task of the coach is to provide instruction as to how to correct or avoid or minimize that error in the ensuing attempts. If the coach sees that there is insufficient leg drive on a successful first jerk attempt, the task is to focus on that aspect so that it does not become worse on the second or third. Poorly developed coaches may miss the technical deficiency and simply participate in cheerleading behavior.
Coaching Instruction and Cues
Coaching cues should be brief and focus the attention of the athlete on the point to be reinforced. Coach/athlete teams that have been working together for a full cycle should be familiar with the most relevant cues so that they can be used most effectively in the heat of battle.
Developing Athletic Aplomb
Most meets early in an athlete’s career are not major events. They are opportunities to develop aplomb on the platform. Developing athletes should be encouraged to enter competition frequently even though it might not coincide with the training cycle. Weightlifters have long suffered from a lack of frequent competition as the physical demands are so great. Athletic competitions are performances and the sooner an athlete can develop the ability to master the situation, the sooner the effects of training can be maximized.
In conclusion: Standing at the side of the competitive platform, shooting video with an iphone, and shooting general encouragement are not the tasks of a coach. A coach is someone who is there to facilitate great performance. Keep this in mind.
My athlete, Christine Na, just completed a very memorable 3 PR performance at the American Open Final in the 59 kg class. I thought that readers might find it helpful to read about the event from a coach’s perspective.
THE LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP
I want to touch on this so that readers can gain some insight on the athlete/coach relationship.
I’ve been coaching Christine for a little over four years. Prior to that she had been less well coached for the first two years of her career. In the ensuing four years we’ve gotten to know each other’s roles in the athletic performance paradigm. We are both very comfortable with “staying in our lanes”. We’ve worked together at 7 or 8 national meets and have developed the proper instincts for the performance. Most of this occurred during the first two years. I include this as a cautionary message for the “coach hoppers” who think they can change coaches every couple of months and achieve wonderful results.
Christine has just completed her doctoral studies in Physical Therapy and as such she has had to make the adjustment in her daily life regimen. This included changing residences so that the drive to the gym has been more manageable and less demanding. These factors have enabled her to upgrade her enthusiasm and drive so that she could make the improvements I’m about to describe.
We each understand our specific tasks. She will make sure she weighs under the class limit, show up on time to weigh-in, show up on time for warm-up, perform lifts and stay focused. I will interface between her and the officials, call the warm-up weights, time the warm-ups, call the competition weights and provide cues for the most critical aspect of each attempt. Her job is to lift. My job is to manage the performance.
I always accompany my athletes to weigh-in. I will deal with any mishaps such as wrong member number or any other factors that can occur. They almost always don’t occur but I want the athlete to feel that they are supported in case of any mishaps. We are relieving anxiety here and anxiety is a distraction.
We arrive early and stake out a warm-up platform. Too close may have too many people walking through your area and too far away may require too long of a walk to the competition platform in case circumstances change and suddenly my athlete is going whereas previously we felt we had two attempts to get to the staging area. On this occasion my former intern Tom Showers is loading the warm-up bar and I will watch the scoreboard by the marhsalls’ table. I tell him what weight to load and when Christine should take the attempt. Christine should be sitting and thinking about performing the lift. I count the attempts until her opener while taking into consideration that some coaches will jump their athletes up (most times unnecessarily).
We go through the sequence : 35-45-55-65-70-75-79. Every three lifts on the competition platform she will take a warm-up. I signal to Tom when each attempt is to be taken and the amount of the next warm-up attempt. Christine should recover between each warm-up and stay warm until the next one. Fortunately she is short-limbed and muscular so she can generate plenty of body heat and not lose too much. I watch every attempt taking mental notes of the bar trajectory and the squat depth when her arms lock. Every warm-up is performed as I envisioned it previously although I’ve not told her what I am expecting.
She goes out for her opener with 81 which is 1 kilo under her PR. Easy make. We take 84 (2 kg over her PR), and it goes up easily but her right arm catches the weight slightly out of position forward and then moves backward. This is a miss and jeopardizes our chance for a good total. I know that this was a very makeable weight and a slight increase to 85 should be a made and should satisfy her greedy nature. I call the 85 and she nails it! We are in good position for an excellent performance.
As soon as any athlete of mine comes down off the third snatch I remind them to focus on the clean & jerk. Whether she bombed in the snatch or hit a PR, thinking backwards about the snatch is not going to help her in the jerk.
THE CLEAN & JERK
A repeat. I count the attempts. She will have 18 until she starts. So we won’t begin warm-ups until after the 10 minute break. Two of her competitors have bombed out in the snatch, but we ignore that as that fact is a distraction. Only thinking about the clean & jerk is going to allow for a great performance.
The warm-up sequence is 35-55-70-80-90-96. All of them go well. The speed is not as good as competition speed, but it needn’t be. A competitive athlete’s mind is on the competitive attempts and not on the warm-up so there will be a speed discrepancy.
I open her at 101, (4 kg under her PR), and it is done with plenty to spare. We go to 104 and it too is done easily although I note that the recovery from the clean is a little slow. I know at this point that the clean recovery on her third (which I have called at 107—2 kg over her PR) will be a critical factor. I cue her as she gets set for the clean—“catch and stand”. The clean is slightly out of position and pushes her back slightly in the squat but she recovers and stands, although with some effort. I’ve seen her stand with much more effort and smoke the jerk, so I know the jerk will be solid. It is. NOW we can rejoice!
I was extremely proud of Christine’s performance and although I always intend for each competition to be executed perfectly, it rarely actually happens. This one was very close and has both immediately thinking about lifting even more weight in the next competition. We always think of doing better. A lack of great execution frustrates us but it does not deter us. We want to get better. We are weightlifters.
One of the frequently neglected parameters in training program design of weightlifters is the number of reps per set. While all of the physiological factors affected by program planning are affected to varying degrees by the number of reps per set, some are more effectively and some less effectively by the number prescribed.
To be more specific each of the following factors is modified, affected or enhanced by the training program design:
· Muscular development
· Neural remodeling
· Hormonal secretion profile
· Anaerobic endurance
For example two repetitions per set (depending on the intensity) can affect each of the preceding factors to varying degrees. If the intensity is low the effects on muscular development, hormonal secretion and anaerobic endurance is minimal but can greatly enhance neural remodeling. On the other hand four repetitions per set at a higher intensity will be more effective at modifying muscular development, hormonal secretion and anaerobic endurance.
Since all of these factors are involved in the long term development of the weightlifting athlete, they must each be addressed and not ignored in program design.
Before implementing even the best designed training program, two factors must be considered in order for the program to have the greatest impact.
1) The athlete’s technique in the snatch and clean & jerk must be biomechanically proficient. That’s not to say perfect or near perfect, but reasonably efficient. This means not placing undue stress on muscles that are not strong enough to bear the required the load.
2) The 100% figures for the snatch and clean & jerk must be reasonably accurate. If these figures are not accurate, the effects of the lower intensities will not provide the desired results.
60%/1 reinforces motor pathways and enables greater speed development. This intensity level and rep prescription does little to affect muscular development, hormone profile or anaerobic endurance.
80%/4 is at the other end of the spectrum. It affects muscular development, hormone profile and anaerobic endurance. It has less effect on neurological remodeling, however, but may stimulate involvement of smaller muscles that are not affected at lower intensities.
Depending on the nature of the current training phase and the level of achievement of the individual athlete, the best training effects will be achieved by a proper distribution of the training volume within the various intensity zones. That is the number of repetitions prescribed in each percentage zone must be adjusted to suit the specific situation. Advanced lifters will not need as much load in the lower intensities, but still need some to maintain speed and reinforce technique. Novice lifters must be limited in their load at higher intensities as they will fatigue sooner and thus affect technical development.
Proper programming can be quite complex as so many variables are involved. Strength development can be achieved through performing a large load within the classic movements for advanced, talented athletes. Less talented, less proficient athletes may have to achieve strength development through supplemental movements in order to avoid excessive trauma to the joints. Optimal results will not be achieved my simply increasing a single parameter such as total repetitions, repetitions per set, total repetitions in a given intensity zone or higher average relative intensities.
You’ve got a real interest in coaching weightlifting, not just because it’s the latest hot item, but because you’re really addicted and you’d love to help your clients or team mates get better at performing the movements. You’ve done your due diligence and taken the USAW L1 and L2 courses and maybe the Crossfit Oly Cert. You’ve maybe even taken some other weekend courses and you’ve learned quite a bit but you’re still a little unsteady about how to proceed forward when you’re actually in charge of teaching a complete newby.
Well, I’ve got a solution for you!
Just Like Other Skilled Professions
In any other skilled trade you’re required to spend some supervised time applying what you’ve learned in course work before you can consider yourself a qualified practitioner. In other words an internship. So how do you do that?
It’s been four years now that we’ve been offering the Takano Weightlifting internship to qualified applicants. During that time 50 coaches have spent time at our gym, working with lifters of varied skill levels, learning how to start newcomers, how to identify problems, how to remediate them and how to keep lifting progress moving beyond the beginner stage.
All of this takes place under the supervision of myself and my assistant, Toby Skinner.
· You’ll get to start off by watching us work with the wide variety of athletes training in our gym. You’ll watch us diagnose problems and then learn which exercises to apply to solve those problems.
· You’ll learn how programming works.
· You’ll learn how not to overcoach.
· You’ll understand how various remedial exercises fix specific problems and when not to use them.
All of this will be taking place over a 100 hour internship in our gym where we do nothing but weightlifting coaching and strength and conditioning.
Last week we tried to hold the first meeting of the latest edition of the USAW Coaching Committee in order to elect officers and set up a long term agenda. Unfortunately we could not get a quorum so those of us present discussed some pertinent topics. Present were Travis Cooper, J.P. Nicoletta (from the National Office), Phil Andrews and myself.
One of the topics was coaching instructor selection.
This is an intriguing topic as it has never really been addressed before.
Our current situation is that we select the instructors for the Level 1 and 2 courses from the ranks of National, International and Senior International coaches who volunteer to instruct. This works adequately for the most part, but there are problems that could be addressed before they become more troublesome and other items that could be carried out more effectively.
First off we make the very American error of believing that a capable practitioner is also capable of teaching his/her craft. A coach who has achieved National level coaching status has demonstrated some competency in teaching the lifts and managing the development of an athlete up to a national level. While the coach in question may have mastered the skills and content necessary to meet the requirements, there is no guarantee that this person could teach others to do the same.
I’ve long believed that any time you design a system for qualifying individuals, you need to determine what is the least that can be done while still meeting the minimum standards. If we determine the competency of that worst individual, is it satisfactory for the tasks being demanded? As an example, I was a school teacher for forty years and regularly encountered individuals who had met the minimal standards by law but were far from being considered competent as instructors.
As USAW moves ahead and the membership grows, there will undoubtedly be growth in the number of courses offered, and if they are to be considered a viable product, the quality of the instructors will have to be addressed.
The most obvious solution is to require course attendance by the instructors to insure that they are aware of the teaching requirements and what are the best practices for achieving them. This could be done online and/or with some instructional materials.
Keep in mind that we are bringing this issue up with the idea of improving our product and not as a criticism of any current instructors in the program.
If you’re trying to learn a skill that is simply a step by step process with each step doable without a great deal of practice and not in need of a great deal of time, you could learn how to do that skill in a one day or a weekend course. Of course you’d still have to go home or an appropriate facility and practice to really master that skill. I remember doing things like when I was a Cub Scout. We’d spend an afternoon learning how to tie a lanyard, or carve a neckerchief slide or whittle a wooden figure, and then go home and practice and show off our handicrafts at the next meeting. We weren’t masters by any means, but we had gotten to the point where we could practice and produce beginner level projects.
Other skills, however, are not so easily acquired. Not only do you have to be shown the processes involved, but they require a tremendous amount of practice simply because that is the nature of the medium. Whereas you can bend and braid and weave lanyard strands the way you want, it is quite a different matter to change the functional capacity of human tissue which is governed by a biochemical clock as well as multiple other factors including the motor learning capacity of the subject.
Weightlifting is just such an activity. A weekend course or seminar might show you the processes you need to master, but there is a great deal of guided practice that must take place before true mastery is achieved. Your completion certificate is just proof that you attended the event and that you were exposed to proper practices. USAW, like many other organizations, uses weekend courses because they are the easiest and most convenient to implement. The courses satisfy certain legal requirements involved in the organization of a weightlifting club or program, but no one is claiming that they inclusively provide sufficient coaching knowledge for someone truly interested in becoming a coach.
You Need Guided Practice
To bridge the gap between a weekend course and becoming a practicing coach, you need guided and supervised practice at coaching the lifts in a dedicated weightlifting facility. The Internship we provide at Takano Weightlifting will offer you, the aspiring coach, many hours of practical experience working with both novices and experienced lifters. You will be able to implement a coaching approach while learning the problem solving capacities of a wide variety of specific movements essential to the learning process.
All of this practice will have oversight by me and/or my assistant Toby Skinner, a graduate of the program and now an excellent, experienced weightlifting coach.
The problems and situations that arise in a dedicated weightlifting gym will provide you with opportunities to use your coaching knowledge and to learn teaching strategies that have proven their value over a 50 year period.
Step up your coaching education today!
If this sounds like a path you’d like to follow you can check out our program at www.takanoweightlifting.com. Just click on the internship menu and take your big step into becoming a weightlifting coach.