I know that a lot of you are beginning coaches and/or working with new athletes who would like to master the snatch and clean & jerk. I frequently get asked by new coaches how to coach technique, especially at USAW L1 Certs, or Crossfit Oly Certs. So here are a few tips to the newcomers that should make your technique coaching more effective.
1) Technique coaching works best when working one-on-one or in small groups. Until you develop that experienced coaching eye, there is frequently too much going on in a single lift for you to catch everything. Watching too many people lifting just makes it that much more difficult.
2) Plan your session for no more than 30 to 40 minutes. Anything longer will fatigue the nervous system of the athlete and subsequently bring about even more technical errors. Athletes are going to learn to do what they practice most frequently, so the training must be geared to doing the smallest number of incorrect movements.
3) Know your athlete’s specific technical weaknesses and prioritize them. This will help you to develop a plan for the session where you work on the worst problem first when the nervous system is most energized.
4) As your athlete improves a particular facet of the technique, diminish the time spent on it, although not entirely ignoring it. Add more exercises to improve the next areas of weakness.
5) Your ultimate goal is to coach an athlete with no areas of technical weakness. Insure that the time spent under your supervision is quality time for the athlete and that you are working on something that the athlete cannot improve on their own. For instance if your athlete has trouble transitioning from the pull to the catching of the weight in the snatch, that is a technical point that requires a coaching eye. If the athlete is lacking in shoulder strength to support the weight, they can work on presses on their own (I hope).
6) Break the training session into a portion that is coaching intensive followed by a portion where the athlete can train without intense supervision.
7) Work on technique on a daily basis if possible. The development of other areas of performance may be trained less frequently during the beginning stages.
8) Mastering technique and eliminating imbalances should be the most immediate goals of the initial training of a weightlifter.
9) The more frequently you coach technique, the more chances you will have to improve. Don’t be hesitant about asking for assistance from a more experienced coach if you run into a problem that you can’t solve.
I hope these tips will assist you in developing your skills as a coach! Good luck!