One thing most beginners have in common is a lot of enthusiasm. As a coach I love to see that. It is one of the reasons I still love to coach beginners. Many coaches love to coach advanced lifters and almost every coach with a team of beginners can’t wait till they improve and get on that long and hard road that leads to things like making international teams and winning big meets. But having worked with a lot of world team members over the last 20 years I have to say that in many ways I have a way better time being in the gym with a bunch of lifters preparing for their first competition!
Guys (and gals) in their first year of lifting are making steady progress and the PR’s fall day after day. They have a love of the sport that is infectious. They are just fun to be around! And both their programming and technical cues are not as exacting. They can use a little too much volume and still progress. Their technical faults are move obvious and easier to see. In general a coaches job is way for forgiving. But oven so, that does not mean it is impossible to screw it up!
One of the easiest ways you can do this is to constantly give in to the athletes desire to do one more lift on the snatch. Sometimes it is hard to put your foot down. No one wants to be a killjoy when faced with lifters who want to work hard and fight to hit big weights. But for the athletes own good sometimes you HAVE to do it. I know this is one of the hardest things for me personally to do, because I really WANT them to give that PR snatch and their is always a little part of me that actually believes if i give them just ONE MORE chance they will make it. But one more chance turns into 2 more, and that turns into 3 more, etc. And eventually one more snatch turns into one more clean and jerk, etc. And soon you realize that you have been training for 3 hours, and you have not even squatted yet. And if this happens too often you will ruin not just a training session, but a training cycle.
What is worse is that if this becomes a habit you will end up with a team athletes who are terrible squatters. They will probably have snatch numbers that are way out of proportion to their clean and jerk numbers, and they will not be able to make a heavy jerk to save their lives. In weightlifting the clean and jerk counts for more than half the total, and although a weak squat doesn’t affect the snatch all that much, it is impossible to be a great clean and jerker without a big squat.
You can combat this simply by knowing when enough is enough. I will never be one of those coaches who require athletes to stick to the EXACT program. I believe that there will always be days when you are on fire and you SHOULD release the reins a little bit, have fun and go for it. Just make sure you don’t do it every day. One of the best ways to make sure you arent doing this it to keep a training log. No one can think back to workouts that they did a week or two ago and remember everything perfectly. But the training log doesn’t lie. It can be very instructive to look over the last few weeks of training and count up the number of snatches you attempted, and the number of clean and jerks you attempted. It is normal to attempt a few more snatches than clean and jerks, but if your snatch attempts are double your clean and jerk attempts you might have a problem. It that is the case I am willing to bet you are not giving your squats enough attention either.
Head into your next week of training determined make clean and jerk and squat PR’s just as important as snatch PR’s and I guarantee you will be rewarded with a new PR total soon!