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I spent quite a bit of time decompressing from the World Weightlifting championships. I flew around the world...TWICE in the last 24 days. I had time to think about Jordan Wissinger’s performance, I had time to think about where I failed as a coach and I had time to sit back and see other athlete’s successes and how they handled the stress behind the competition. There are TONS of factors that go into being an elite weightlifter, here are a few things I recognized from a coaching perspective.
1. Stress management is king.
Whoever manages stress the best, WINS. What’s that mean? Any damn type of stress. The athlete that handles travel the best, WIN. The athlete that handles poor food situations, WIN. The athlete that isn’t distracted by the craziness of the training hall, WINS. The athlete that handles their internal stress the best, WINS.
When you take a step back, nearly every single athlete has some sort of weight cut, they all have to train in the training hall, they all have technical issues, they all have a crazy travel schedule, they all have stress. The ones that worry about themselves and focus on their own management and their own issues are the ones that come out on top!
2. Act like a champion.
Too often than not, I saw athletes taking pictures with all of their Hookgrip idols. I get it, I am a massive fanboy. In fact, I got a picture with Kuo and spent 30 minutes watching her clean and jerk. BUT, I am a coach and can learn from elite lifters and their coaches during preparation. Fanboying athletes prior to competition aren’t optimal. As a lifter, you may change something on short notice just because your IG Hero is doing something unique. Save the starstruck stuff for after competing and the competition will likely improve!
3. Worry about yourself.
The best lifters DON’T GIVE A FUCK. Yes, I am swearing. Yes, this is true. During warm-ups for the 67k weight class, we were seated directly next to the Chinese dude that ended up finishing second overall in the competition. He was screaming every rep, staring dudes down, smashing weights and bringing an incredible intensity. The US’s Alex Lee was doing the same. He was
Executing his plan and only worried about himself. Meanwhile, I noticed other novice lifters not
Taking their warm-ups because a dude would be lifting across from them. They were existing
Outside of their mind, outside of their plan. They were distracted and worried about other lifters.
The best lifters express themselves without the worry about other people. They warm up on their own
Their own terms. They focus on themselves. They follow their plan. They execute their
4. The training hall.
I might get serious hate for this one...the training hall is the best part behind the world championships. It’s intense AF. People are warming up, laying claim to their area like a cat marking their territories. Athletes are staring each other down, screaming, slamming bars and hitting massive weights. Granted, many athletes are also socializing and having a good time but part of me feels that the training hall is the coolest part behind Worlds. As a coach, I got an in-depth look at how coaches coach, how athletes receive cues and how they execute their lifts. The athletes that are distracted in the hall, worried about people walking in front of them, stepping off the platform when someone else is going to take a lift...those are the athletes that will not lift well at a competition that is the caliber of the World Championships.
5. Champions shut their pie hole.
The best lifters take a lift, drop the weight, look at their coach, shake their head and focus. I was fortunate enough to watch Lasha double 200k in the snatch, take down 210k and then clean and jerk 255k.
I was also fortunate enough to watch Kuo clean and jerk 130k.
These lifters don’t tell their coaches what they’re thinking. They don’t tell the coach how the lift felt, they don’t tell the coach what they could do better. They look at the coach, they listen to criticism, they don’t take it personally and they get back on the platform and execute. Too often, athletes want to chirp in and give their opinion on the lift. That is fine when you are 8 weeks out from the competition but I believe when it’s a peak time, the athlete needs to shut the hell up and execute.
Many of these lessons are universal across all sports. I had taken these notes and then went to Doha for the World Championships in track and field and noticed almost the EXACT same consistencies between the track studs and duds when compared to their lifting counterpart. It’s important to understand progress, understand the point of training and know your role as an athlete AND as a coach!