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Is a Poor Performance the Coach’s or Athlete’s Fault?
As a weightlifting and powerlifting coach there are some good meets and some not so good meets. Lately we are on a two meet streak of great meets, but poor performances happen. That’s just the nature of sports. Alabama wins the National Championship one year and gets crushed the next year. Things just happen like injuries, lose personnel, and bad calls. That’s life man!
In this article I am talking about individual performances. In the sport of weightlifting that is the tough part of the game. You can have an athlete go 6 for 6 win a gold medal; while in the same meet another athlete bombs out. They both had a great training block, similar program, and same weight cut, but they each had a very different result. This is the part that drives me crazy as a coach.
Whose fault is the bomb out? Is it the coach’s fault or the athlete’s fault? At the end of the day the coach and athlete are riding together. If the athlete wins, so does the coach. If the athlete bombs, so does the coach. That’s the nature of sport in general. You can’t take credit for an athlete’s performance one moment, and then completely blame them for a bad performance the next. That’s narcissistic behavior from a coach.
Here’s the thing. Some athletes naturally perform and some don’t. Some can perform on a more local stage, but still can’t put it together on a big stage. Some struggle on any platform, and now I get it. You on a platform, everyone is staring at you, three old crabby judges are staring at you, and the clock is ticking. Some people process all of that into positive energy, and some crumble under all the pressure.
As a coach our job is to know which athlete you are dealing with each and every time. This is where real coaching takes place, and admittedly this is the hard part. I coach three athletes that are going to the World Championships this year. I coach a few more that should be going. That’s the hard part for me. I have athletes that I know for 100% that they should be at an International level, but their brain isn’t at that level yet.
It’s rough because as coaches we can get wrapped up in the emotions as well. We want the same thing that our athletes want. Sometimes the athletes don’t understand that part. They think that we want something different than they do. Are you crazy? I want you on a world team more than you want to be on that world team. However in some cases, I can’t swing for the fences because we just have to get you on base first.
Here’s the hope in all of this. I have watched athlete start out as poor competitors, and over time they turned into fierce competitors. As a coach you have to get them in as many meets as possible until they feel comfortable on stage. You also need to flesh out what’s going on mentally. If you have a good sports psychologist, that’s a blessing. With some of my athletes, we have periodic talks trying to understand what’s going on, and I am trying to tell them the positive thoughts that should replace the negative ones.
Whether powerlifting or weightlifting, it’s always the opening lift that’s the hardest for athletes to face. Most people are thinking about just getting that opener competed, or worse they are thinking, “don’t miss my opener”. Man that thought drives me crazy. Replace that negative thought with, “I can’t wait to crush my opener”. That’s what openers are for, “to crush”. This is part of the coach’s job as well.
I love it when an opposing coach watches an athlete bomb out, and they comment, “they opened to high”. How do you know that? What if the athlete opened up 15kg below their max and bombed out? I’ve had that happen to me as a coach. Sometimes there’s a lot more going on than the amount of weight on the bar. It’s all a part of the chess game that is individual sports. You simply have the athlete’s capabilities in the gym versus their capabilities on the platform. Your job is to get them producing their best results on the platform.
If you can get them young, you can start them out on a good path. For example with Morgan, my 14-year-old phenom, we started out being very conservative in meets to the point where he wasn’t even taking his personal records on the platform. We wanted him used to going 6 for 6, and that’s what was happening. Now we open him at numbers that allows him to take lifetime personal records on the competition platform, and that’s where he is hitting those numbers now. He simply got used to making lifts in competition, and now it’s a habit.
Vinh Huynh, Mash Mafia Minnesota’s amazing coach and one the National Coaches for Mash Mafia has a great system for athletes that struggle in competition. Here’s the way he chooses their attempts:
Attempt 1 is something that they can power snatch or clean.
Attempt 2 is something they should have opened with.
Attempt 3 is the athlete’s choice.
Heck he used this system with Brian Reisenauer, and now Brian is on a World Team. How about that? Brian was bombing out of meets left and right, and now he is one of our best performers. This is a great place to start, and then the rest is breaking down those negative mental barriers.
This sport will drive you crazy. However the complexity of it all is the very reason that it is so exhilarating when you have that perfect meet like we just experienced at the AO Series 3. I am still on a high from that performance. Yes poor performances are always the coach and athlete’s responsibility. Together you are to turn those negative experiences into Gold. If you stay with the process, you will do just that.
If you are a aspiring coach or someone that wants to make a life in the fitness world, you might want to check out the Mash Mentorship:
Here’s what to expect:
• Coaching the Mash Team together (technique, correcting mistakes, programming, and more)
• Business talks (growth, getting started, cash flow, marketing, social media, and more)
• Field Trips to Open up lines for deeper discussion
• Training together
• Ending each day with Q&A around a fire.
Basically I want to make sure that the mentorship group learns exactly what they want to learn. We will send each person that signs up a survey to see what they are hoping to learn, and then we will form the mentorship around those answers.
We are going to keep this group small. I am thinking about 3-4 for the first one. I just want to make sure that it is an intimate experience, and I want the attendees to leave the mentorship filled with ideas and knowledge.
To find out more, click on the link below: