“In vain you have acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others”
- Deuteronomy Rabbah
Let me start off by saying that Olympic weightlifting is my passion. In my high school years I dabbled in it as a means to get stronger for football, not really knowing what, or how, I was doing. After walking into Mighty Warrior and reintroducing myself to the Snatch and Clean & Jerk, I knew that performing the lifts was what I wanted to pursue.
After being handed the reins to the Oly program at MWCF, I gobbled up as much information on the snatch and clean & jerk as I could find. This helped me to gain a base knowledge to make sure I didn’t sound like a complete schmuck in front of a class full of athletes. This early education was great as it allowed me to correct common mistakes with athletes, usually after a week or so of trying to get my message across. Often times I would get frustrated with myself because in my mind I could see what the athlete was doing wrong but I was unable to tell them without talking 1000 miles per hour or it sounding like total word vomit. It is definitely one thing to know the material and another thing entirely to teach it.
Enter USA Weightlifting. As an aspiring Oly coach, the USAW Level 1 is the base certification you need to hold to have any credibility whatsoever in the weightlifting community. Going into the class I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was ready to absorb everything they were willing to throw at me. I’ve found that as a coach you usually have a script in your head of how you’re going to teach a movement and make everything “super easy” for the athlete to understand but then you’re thrust into a class environment, fumble over yourself, and end up leaving athletes more confused than when they started. Those two days at USAW Level 1 helped me to not only simplify the lifts, positions, and theory of weightlifting but also helped me to streamline the way I teach the lifts to anyone who is willing to give me the time to show them.
After some time teaching the lifts as prescribed by the USAW and feeling comfortable coaching the 4-5 athletes who would show up to class on a weekly basis I felt it was time to seek more knowledge and go “back to school”. This time it was with Diane Fu of San Francisco CrossFit/FuBarbell. In this one-day seminar I was introduced to a number of pre-workout stretches and warm-ups to help the athlete prepare for a quality session of Olympic lifting. She also had her own unorthodox style of teaching the lifts (keeping the weight centered on the foot at all times, keeping your sternum over the barbell during the lifts, etc…) that helped me add to my toolbox of weightlifting knowledge. I came away from the seminar with the feeling that I could now warm-up or stretch my athletes appropriately for the work we were going to tackle on any given day.
So after I came back we started rolling as a class. I consistently saw 8-10 athletes on any give week in Oly class and we were getting better and better at performing the lifts. It was not the time to just rest on what I knew, but time to seek out more knowledge so I could help refine and grow the people who graciously gave me an hour of their time every week. This is when Joel showed me an Eleiko weightlifting seminar he thought I might be interested in. Looking for an opportunity to grow, I jumped at the chance.
I made the trek to beautiful Evanston, Illinois to the campus of Northwestern University to see what kind of education Eleiko could offer up. I spent two days completely engulfed in the biomechanics, energy pathway needs, teaching, and programming of the Olympic lifts. Again they coached the lifts from the “top down”, further simplifying the information I had gathered in the USAW course and FuBarbell seminar. This was also the first seminar where some of the participants had never performed an Olympic lift prior to the course, so it was beneficial to me to see how they coached someone who was literally learning the lift for the first time. To date, this has been the most beneficial course for me as a coach in the information I bring back to my athletes and how I share that knowledge.
I started off by saying that Olympic lifts are my passion. Through this journey of learning and teaching, I’ve come to find out that my passion lies in the coaching of the Olympic lifts. I have a pretty cool day job and I enjoy coaching CrossFit as much as anyone, but the most fulfilling thing in my life is being able to coach men and women of all ages and abilities in Olympic weightlifting on Monday nights at 6. I’ve been blessed with athletes who are excited to lift, work hard, continue to show up and we’re really starting to see the results of our time in the box.
So in closing I want you to know that I love you all, I couldn’t be more proud of your efforts, and I can’t wait to see how strong we can get moving forward!
Come one, come all. Is CrossFit really for everyone?