There are not too many things in weightlifting that you can count on. But coaches acting as though if one cue is good, 2 are better is one of them. Everyone is tempted to do this, because we all want the athletes we are coaching to win. We want that badly, sometimes TOO badly! And we all have a certain amount of ego so we are prone to think that success or failure on a lift depends on us giving the right cue at the right time. In actuality, it probably doesn’t, and in fact a whole bunch of cues right before a lifter steps onto the platform will probably do more harm than good. The fact is, one cue is a about all most lifters can process at a time, especially in competition. So coaches who give 5 or 6 are just wasting their time confusing the lifter. If they are lucky, a litter will just tone the coach out. Now every lifter is different and some can process a bit more, and some a bit less.
Travis Cooper likes to talk about the upcoming lift and any advice I might have the night before a competition, but not on competition day, and certainly no long conversations on his way to the platform. James Tatum doesn’t really want me to tell him ANYTHING I haven’t already discussed with him in training extensively, and definitely nothing more than very short cues, usually 1 word, when he is headed to the platform. Keep in mind that James and Travis are experienced competitors, so if they can’t process complicated advice or too much advice right before a lift imagine how confusing it would be to an inexperienced lifter in his first meet!
No matter what your lifters individual temperament or experience level, you should not be introducing anything new during competition. Keep it simple, stupid! I also find that cues that are positive work better than cues that are negative. You should not tell a lifter to NOT do something, that rarely works. If you tell a lifter “ don’t jump forward” you have not told them anything useful, like how to not jump forward. In fact you might have made it more likely that they will jump forward because now they are focusing on it. Better to give a simple one word positive cue like HEELS. If you have explained what this means, and that you want them to make sure as the bar rises the weight moves back on the foot towards the heel, this can be a great cue. Even though this blog and this advice is meant to be applied in competition, I feel that even in training some coaches a tendency to talk too much! I find that the longer I coach the less I talk during any given training session. The fact is, when a coach learns how to shut up, often what they do say is taken that much more seriously!
So as coaches we should limit the amount of cues we give to a lifter and make them very short and one word if possible. We also need to make sure that that any cues we give in competition have been given in training and thoroughly explained.