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You’re Fired: 5 Reasons to Dump Your Olympic Weightlifting Coach

By Amber Sheppard

This piece was written by Amber Sheppard, a weightlifting coach and all-around awesome human out of Mississippi. Amber founded and currently runs the non-profit Mississippi Barbell, the first USAW club in that state. She is the top ranked female USA Weightlifting coach in Mississippi, has coached national and international athletes (medalists in power lifting & weightlifting, Team USA Skeleton, multiple national functional fitness athletes), worked with clients from 6 to 83 years old, and has had multiple state records as a raw powerlifter herself. To learn more about Amber, find her here. Enjoy!

“You’re fired.” Two little words with huge consequences for an Olympic weightlifting athlete and his coach. That short sentence simultaneously frees one person and strikes fear into another.  

It’s never easy to leave a coach. The decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s difficult in the first place to even choose a coach. But there times when the choice to part ways is simple. If your coach does any of the following five things then it’s time you run for the hills and into the loving (metaphorical) embrace of a coach who is worth your time, money, and effort.

1. His Phone Gets More Attention Than You Do

If you are paying someone to coach you then you shouldn’t be playing second fiddle to his phone. There are times when looking at the phone is acceptable: using the calculator, filming lifts, changing the music, and the occasional text. But if you’re in a one on one session and your coach is playing Candy Crush or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, then it’s time to pack your shoes and mosey on down the road.

2. Only “Superstars” or “Big Numbers” Are Rewarded

Everyone who puts on a singlet or steps on a platform deserves the same respect from a coach. Of course seasoned veterans or long-time clients may get a little more attention here or there but that’s normal just due to the length of time that relationship has existed.

It’s not ok if your coach never pays attention to you or doesn’t congratulate you on your PRs. Or even post them (if he is the posting type). Your 40kg snatch is just as important as someone’s 140kg snatch; don’t ever act like your accomplishments don’t matter. Your coach shouldn’t feed into that negativity that so many beginner lifters already have (the “I’m not good enough yet” mentality).

If you come in every day, pay your dues, and work hard, you matter and you are good enough.

3. He Doesn’t Care About Your Day (Or You)

A good sign of a great coach is that he asks about your day. Does he always care about every detail of your life? Eh, maybe not (or maybe I’m just heartless). But the way you answer that question–your tone, body language, inflection– tells a coach everything he needs to know for that day’s training session. If you’re down or stressed, it’s going to affect how you lift. He may change certain things in your program as a result.

When your coach doesn’t care enough to ask about you or check in on you then you need to find someone who does. Don’t get it twisted though- that communication works both ways. If you don’t say anything to your coach when he asks (or if you fail to send data he requested repeatedly), then you can’t get mad.

4. You’ve Missed More Lifts Than You’ve Made At Meets

Everyone has a bad meet. Or a few. But if you’ve been a regular competitor and have missed more lifts than you’ve made at a meet under your coach, and you aren’t jockeying for a spot on an international team, then something isn’t working. Attempt selections are critical to a weightlifter’s, or powerlifter’s, success. You need someone who knows what they are doing, helps you pick and achieve a realistic goal, and can adapt a strategy on game day to enable you to be successful. Making lifts is a confidence booster. Ensure your coach boosts you up rather than tears you down.

5. You’re Just A Way For Him To Get Likes

The social media whore. No one likes him except for robot apps that follow and spam him. If your coach makes all of YOUR accomplishments about HIM, then go ahead and serve him his walking papers. Don’t get me wrong, coaches should be proud of your accomplishments. I’ve seen a coach post about how their athlete won gold and got HIM (the coach) another medal. Everyone knows how hard coaches work. There’s no need to make every single thing about you. There’s a big difference between marketing and just being an egotistical nimrod.
A good strength & conditioning coach, like our Elmhurst based Strength Agenda Weightlifting coaching staff, will never have you utter those two words. Before you hire your coach make sure your philosophies line up. We encourage all prospective athletes at The Strength Agenda to drop in to see Coach Tom train others, and work in with our team to see if his coaching style works for you. All good coaches will allow you to drop in (though not all will allow you to lift during the session for a variety of valid reasons). If you’re serious, inquire about booking a private session to make sure it’s a good fit. Check out your prospective coach’s social media. If you do those things first then you won’t even have to worry about finding someone else.

Want to learn more about joining our team? Local, semi-remote, and completely remote options are available. Contact us here to start the process. If you’re looking for coaching, video feedback, or any of the other stellar services Coach Amber provides, visit her site here.

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