Recap of the American Open 2016: A coach's perspective

The American Open is one of the biggest competitions that USA weightlifting (USAW) puts on each year. Hundreds and hundreds of athletes and coaches from all over the country gather to compete. Whether you have good competition experience or a bad one, it is an important experience. Attending a national meet is very different than a local meet. I just wanted to spend some time discussing the experience we had as a team down in Orlando this year.

We had two athletes from Kingfield Barbell compete, Chris and Andrea. They did an amazing job! We discussed their results in our last post. In this post, I wanted to talk a little more about the different coaching styles they respond to best. We had three coaches: Josh, Danny and Zach, the owner and head coach of Strength Ratio down in North Carolina. Andrea went into the competition with the goal of qualifying for USAW Nationals. The biggest thing for her was to stay calm and not overthink her lifts. The only thing Andrea was allowed to do was lift when we said, put her headphones in and jam out, and sit when she wasn't hitting warm-up attempts.

For Chris, our approach was a little different. We ended up trying to qualify for USAW Nationals but the main goal was to build confidence and keep him out of his own head. Chris, being a coach himself, wants to be a coach and an athlete at the same time. It is difficult to do this because you spend time analyzing yourself before you go onto the platform. It was important for us to tell Chris that he was an athlete ONLY. He didn't need to coach himself, just lift when we told, sit when told. 

Andrea responded to more relaxed coaching, a go-with-the-flow type mentality. Chris responded better to being told he was the athlete and to get hyped. We did a lot of dancing in the back to get him amped up. It was a big meet for both of them and we couldn't be more proud.

We also coached other athletes at the American Open. We helped our friends at Strength Ratio when their lifters. On Friday, we were there for 17 hours - that was a lot of weightlifting! One thing we noticed by the end of the day was that the style of coaching in the warm-up room varies greatly. Some coaches would give their athletes five or six cues before they would go up onto the platform. I'm not sure about you guys, but I lose track after about two cues. When an athlete hears all of these cues, it is almost like decision paralysis sets in. Which cue was more important? Which cue pertains to the situation right now? It is important to remember to keep it simple for your athletes. It is important to trust your athlete, trust their training and trust yourself as a coach.

We are looking forward to our next chance to coach, compete and refine our practice. Orlando was a fun time and it is always rewarding to see your athletes have success. Next stop: Nationals*!

-Coach Josh

*USAW Nationals will be held May 11-14 in Chicago, IL.