If this article had been written ten years ago, the advice would have been different. It wouldn’t have been “Do you need a weightlifting coach?”. It would have been “Good luck finding one, whether you need one or not.”. Thanks to a surging popularity in the sport combined with major advancements in technology and social media, you can find a coach, a program to follow, and a meet to compete at in a matter of minutes. (Whether they’re any good is another story.)
It’s a double-edged sword, this technology stuff. Having access to some of the top minds in the sport has allowed for an unprecedented sharing of knowledge. It has also allowed weightlifting coaches who don’t know as much appear to be incredibly knowledgeable. This world of “internet coaches” has also bred a subset of athletes who don’t believe they need a coach, because they have access to programming (free and paid). There are other athletes who are transitioning from other sports or CrossFit programming that feel like their current coach is enough.
The answer to the question “Do you need a weightlifting coach?” has a very simple answer: Yes. If you want to get better, you need a coach. You can get better by following a well-written program, but if you don’t have a set of eyes on you, both to fix technique issues as well as to adapt programming for your weaknesses, you’re not getting as much out of your effort as you could be. If you plan on competing, having a coach is a necessity. At the local level, it’s extremely helpful to have someone counting cards and attempts for you. At a higher level, a coach is a must-have. You not only need someone in the warm-up room with you, but you need someone navigating qualifying procedures, technical meetings, weight class changes, and other situations that you don’t want to be worrying about personally as you’re gearing up for a big meet. Can you do it alone? Yes. Should you? No.
For reference, here’s a handy flowchart we created. If you’re having trouble finding a coach, our online team is offering a free trial. See what a difference a good coach can make in your training.