While there are plenty of beginning coaches embarking on a career of teaching the classic lifts (snatch and clean & jerk), and a variety of coaching courses engaging them, very little attention, if any, is directed at the development of the coaching eye. This is unfortunate as the coaching eye is one of the most valuable tools/skills that a coach has to effect the craft.
What the veteran coach perceives
One of the most gratifying coaching experiences is to watch a weightlifting event in the company of other veteran coaches. We react simultaneously and in concert to the same events that occur in a lift, whether they be appropriate or maloccurent. We perceive the same visual events concurrently and in some cases to auditory signals as well. We enjoy sharing the experience. All of this can be occurring in the presence of a novice who is not even aware of the events taking place.
The proper footwork, the proper biomechanics, the proper timing—all of these are observed and heard simultaneously by veteran coaches.
One Step Further
Experienced coaches can take these perceptions one step further and almost immediately determine if a given technical fault is on the road to being remediated and if not the determination of the best remediation exercise. Sometimes even the dosage and frequency of the aforementioned exercise can be accurately determined.
The problem faced by the beginner
A new coach desirous of improving the coaching eye will probably not find the issue addressed in coaching courses. The other alternative is to spend time in a weightlifting gym alongside a veteran coach while sharing perceptions. With more coaches attempting to work through distance coaching, this perception sharing is less likely to take place. Hence a little direction wouldn’t hurt.
Start with the most obvious aspect
The beginner should begin by learning about something that is easily seen. For example, the new coach might be easily able to observe the actions of the hips during the pull. So the following steps might be taken:
· Watch sequence shots focused on hip action. Look at shots of the beginning of the movement and the end so that the images are burned into the coach’s eye. Watch examples from many different lifters.
· Watch video and focus only on the hip action. This will provide a sense of timing. Again note a variety of different body types to develop a good consensus of the timing of the movement.
· Go to the gym or to a competition and observe the hip actions of a variety of lifters until optimal and sub-optimal movement patterns can be easily discerned.
Select another aspect to learn/observe/master
Having mastered the ability to accurately discern one aspect of technique, the beginning coach can then select another and repeat the previously described process. Once mastery is achieved, the coach can then attempt to watch for both the first and second aspects simultaneously until technical errors can be ascertained in either or both or neither. This process can then be expanded until the coach can see everything that is happening in a lift and determine which are deficient and subsequently how to remedy them.
how i got started
This is just anecdotal and should serve as an example. My first several years really “in the sport” took place at the Los Angeles Downtown YMCA where I was coached by Bob Hise, II, one of the top coaches of that period. I would sit by him as he commented on the technique of the team members, several of which were at the elite national level. Some aspects I could not see initially, but after watching many lifts I could begin to see what he could see. Furthermore we attended many local events and some national events, often watching lifting together. Soon we could simultaneously watch a lift through each others’ eyes. During much of this time I was also coaching my own athletes and thus was afforded the opportunity to critically observe lifting at a variety of levels.
The takeaway here is to spend time watching lifting in the company of a more experienced eye.