There are coaches of the weightlifting lifts and weightlifting coaches. Not sure if that makes sense, but I will try to make a point at some time throughout this post/rant. Stick with me. I came into the sport of weightlifting through CrossFit about 2 1/2 years ago. I had seen Weightlifting in the Olympics, and call myself an above average knowledgeable all around sports fan. But, if you had asked me shortly after my introduction to CrossFit what the 2 lifts in the sport of weightlifting were called or that weightlifting and weight lifting were two different things I would have given you that head tilted sideways kind of blank stare that you get from your dog. You all know what I’m talking about if you have ever owned a dog in your lifetime.
God bless CrossFit for multiple reasons. It has led me to being able to earn a living in the fitness industry, has introduced me to the lifestyle and sport of weightlifting, and has introduced me to awesome and amazing people that I otherwise would never have met in my lifetime. It is undeniable that CrossFit has grown and injected the sport of Weightlifting in the US, with an energy and boost that it desperately needed with perfect timing, at the height of the social media.
I was encouraged by my CrossFit coaches to come to some “oly” classes to work on the lifts as they were an important part of CrossFit WODs and took time to master as they are extremely technical and dynamic lifts. I soon, like within days, was hooked on weightlifting and was obsessed with the sport and the constant pursuit of perfection with the lifts and chasing PRs. I loved to compete and coach, and weightlifting, has given me the opportunity to do both.
I first started as a weightlifter, and soon after began attending weightlifting seminars, and got my USAW Level 1 Sports and Performance Coach designation. I began coaching the weightlifting lifts at my local CrossFit and continued to learn as much as I could about the sport. For about a year I trained in the sport of weightlifting as a Master’s athlete and also taught the lifts in CrossFit classes. I then became a weightlifting coach within a year and a half, as I decided to open my own CrossFit and started a Barbell Club.
As a coach of the weightlifting lifts I was teaching and coaching athletes basic fundamentals of the lifts. I was trying to teach them enough so that they could move efficiently during a WOD and do it safely without getting hurt. The coach of weightlifting lifts is a very important role and I am in no way diminishing that. Not everyone is like myself and falls in love with the sport, or really truly cares about getting a 300# Snatch. They just want to know enough to be dangerous and still get in a great workout in their hour at the gym. CrossFit has opened up that avenue for many coaches and athletes alike.
Being the competitor that I am, and having the passion and desire to accomplish great things not only as an athlete but also as a coach, I made the transition to being a Weightlifting Coach. I found a coach online in Tom Sroka, to take my training to the next level. I continued to learn and study the lifts and the sport to help make me a better coach for my members. I held a seminar at our gym and go to weightlifting seminars in the area every chance I get to soak up as much information as I can about the sport. I started developing certain lifters in my gym that had potential to be competitive in the sport. I recruited a few lifters from our seminar to join our Barbell Club. I show up at our gym every morning at 6am to coach our Barbell Club, work full time at my day job and come back multiple evenings and on Saturdays to help our members get better and achieve their goals. I get to know my members and athletes on a personal level. I learn how to interact and coach each individual as everyone responds well and differently to different coaching styles and cues. I talk to my athletes and find out how they are feeling and doing throughout the week to help me understand how hard they need to be pushed each day. I don’t pretend to know everything. I look to people/friends/mentors/peers that are in the sport of weightlifting for tips and advice knowing that there is always something new to learn and help me be a better coach. I actively train in the sport of weightlifting to lead by example. I never ask my athletes or members to do things in their training that I am not willing to do myself. In return I end up earning the respect of my athletes and members that way. I encourage my athletes at meets and try to put their minds at ease by handling everything that I can, so that they just have to worry about the lifts.
These are just a few of the things that I do that I think are important in being the best leader and Weightlifting Coach that you can be. Whether a coach of the lifts or a weightlifting coach, if you do these things I believe you will be successful. Take your job seriously. Give your athletes what they are looking for and more and most of all, enjoy it, smile, and have fun. Life is too short to do it any other way.