Talking To Your Athlete

As Chow, Miles and I head to the meet this weekend, I thought I would post a few wise words passed on to me from more qualified coaches on how to talk to your athletes in training and competition.

A wise man once told me that USAW sports psychologists used to think that an athlete could hear about seven words before they lost focus on what was being said and began to over-analyze themselves. Now, sports psychologists believe an athlete can hear roughly seven syllables. This means that cues like” Ok when you get out there I want you to keep your chest big while driving your knees out and sweeping the bar in. Oh and stack your bones” are not doing your athlete any good and can contribute to a failed lift. I have seen this with the new lifters I train at Seattle U, more than a few syllables and their eyes start to glaze over like donuts and their technique goes down the toilet.

A better approach to coaching cues would be to discuss errors in the athlete’s technique when they are off the platform, and come up with simple, one-syllable cues for you to say while they are lifting. If they have a problem with caving knees in the clean, simply yell KNEES! If their heels come up, just yell HEELS!

The platform is for lifting. Not for thinking, not for talking, not for doubt.

Paralysis By Analysis is a common occurrence for new lifters and it is the coach’s responsibility to keep this from happening. All thinking and analysis should already have taken place before the meet. Technique errors should be hammered out as much as possible leading up to the two weeks before the meet. The night before the meet and the day of should be spent in quiet reflection, constantly visualizing successful lifts. This will help your athlete to leave all their thinking back in the training facility and let their hours of practice take over on the platform.

Best of luck to Chow and Miles, they have trained hard and it’s time to have some fun this weekend.

Grip it & rip it!


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