The Principles of Effective Coaching: Intermediate to Advanced level lifters Part.1

Alright guys let’s face it; the Olympic lifts have long been looked at as hazardous by many college and high school strength coaches. The reasoning for this is not that their athletes cannot perform these lifts. It is because the coaches lack the sufficient understanding of the lifts and do not feel comfortable teaching the technique. Recently CrossFit has come about and changed the strength and conditioning world. Quite a few CrossFit gyms have a few platforms and a dedicated lifting coach. Most CrossFit coaches have a beginners understanding of the Olympic Lifts and are teaching novice crossfitters how to lift with some proficiency. However most of the time cues and corrections are thrown out with no logical order. This can create confusion and inconsistency among your athletes. How do you go from being a beginner coach to an advanced coach? How do you start creating actual lifters who exhibit excellent movement patterns?

When addressing an athlete the most common mistake that I see is an overload of information. In many gyms you can walk in and see a coach throwing out 3-4 cues to an athlete all out once. Many coaches struggle to appropriately correct lifts because of this. Now here is a fact: The Olympic lifts for the majority of people take less than 1.5 seconds. In this time period there is simply not enough time to think about all of these different cues and corrections. Focus on one cue at a time and consistently reinforce that cue. No one ever changed their lift permanently after being cued something one time. The cue must be reinforced with every set. Repetition and consistency breeds results. Take note of what cues work with your athlete so that in the future if need be you can revisit that cue. Great lifters are the ones who have great coaches who constantly correct their lifter’s technique flaws. With different athletes the cue is enforced differently and through a different time period. Some athletes may only perform the lift correctly if you say the cue every single lift. This is something that as a coach you must pick up on. The time period of verbal reinforcement differs with athletes but should be at least done in four separate lifting sessions.

Two of the most common muscular imbalances seen through Olympic lifting with CrossFit are glute activation and right to left leg strength balance.

Glute activation is a very common problem among CrossFit athletes and more of a problem with women than with men. People with glute activation may do things such as: dipping forward in the jerk, have a hard time holding the split of a jerk, or have a hard time achieving triple extension. In most cases it can be corrected with two exercises a week that involve the glutes. These could be good mornings, Romanian deadlifts, or lunges. All of these exercises should be introduced at a low intensity with relatively high volume; 6-10 reps is appropriate. The lunges should be done with 6-10 reps on each leg. When used they should never exceed a medium intensity and quality of the movement should be preserved.

Right to Left leg strength balance often occurs in programs that do not have enough left to right strength exercises. If your athlete has this they may exhibit the following: slant of bar during front squat back squat or overhead squat, consistent twisting to the right or left when barbell cycling, having a soft lockout on one side of the jerk or when receiving the snatch. If this is the case then at least two split leg exercises should be added in to the program. This could involve step-ups, Bulgarian split squats, weighted pistols or single leg RDLS. All of these exercises should be introduced at a low intensity with relatively high volume 6-10 reps. When used they should never exceed a medium intensity and quality of the movement should be preserved.