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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Olympic Weightlifting Coaches Course

On the 1st and 2nd of November NSW weightlifting ran a 2 day, Level 1 coaches course and as usual I was there presenting and coaching the coaches.

I don't want to bore everyone with a blow by blow analysis of the weekend but I did make some observations that I think are important for ANYONE who wants to add Olympic lifting into their program to take note of.

So to start off here is a little video of highlights of the course and then a few points.

#1 - Everyone at the course was already an experienced fitness trainer or sports coach and EVERY SINGLE ONE had trouble with some aspect of Olympic lifting. This is not because they were bad coaches or athletes, in fact most of them were pretty good. The fact is that Olympic lifting is several orders of magnitude more complex than basic weight training. Speed exponentially magnifies errors in positioning and this leads to less than perfect technique.

#2 - After 2 days of intensive coaching from one very very experienced weightlifting coach (Steve Tikannen has been doing this 5 days a week for over 10 years) and one fairly good coach (thats me, i've only been coaching 4 days a week for 3 years) the participants still had a lot to refine in their technique. I suggest that anyone who wants to get good at olympic lifting is going to need some ongoing revision sessions and lots of practice.

#3 - Flexibility - Very few people off the street, even fitness trainers, have the required degree of shoulder, lower back and glute/hamstring flexibility to get in the positions required for the full olympic lifts. In particular poor shoulder flexibility is a massive problem for a lot of people from a bodybuilding background. Bench press is an ok exercise but not if you do so much of it that you can't get your arms overhead without looking like you are about to cry.

#4 - Critical positions in weightlifting - I've now assessed a bunch of people from this course and the last few we've run and despite hammering the following points into them during the course inevitably some people forget the following

4-1 Staying over the bar - If you want to lift big weights with the power clean, snatch etc then you've got to have your shoulders over that bar until right at the end of the triple extension and shrug. Way to many coaches let their athletes sit back during the second pull and drag the bar up their thighs. This severely reduces the loads lifted, the power produced and thus the training effect of olympic lifting.

4-2 Pulling position vs receiving position - Any time you are pulling the bar whether it's from the floor or from the hang the feet should be under your hips (narrowish stance) Any time you catch the bar (power snatch, power clean, full squat versions) your feet should be a bit wider in a squat stance. Enough said.

4-3 Bar overhead = push the head through. It's not that hard but again a lot of people try to hold the bar out in front with pure muscle power. Easy with 20kg, not so easy with 200kg!

Anyway thats just a few observations, if you want more info on Olympic lifting feel free to email me or come along to a seminar!

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