The plain truth about Weightlifting is that while there are a number of important factors that contribute to success, a person's genetic endowment is No.1.
The "right genetics" includes not only the makeup of muscle tissue but also the right skeletal structure and hormonal characteristics.
Excellence of Coaching
Anyone who ventures into the sport of Weightlifting quickly appreciates the importance of learning good technique. But there is a difference between good technique and excellence of technique. The development of technique is, of course, dependant on the quality of the feedback provided by the coach. As a Weightlifter progresses in experience, a coach must increasingly 'split hairs' to assist the athlete improve their technique further. Furthermore, it's not the case that the Weightlifter only needs a good coach towards the end of their career. If correct movement patterns are not laid down in the very first few sessions, it becomes incredibly hard if not impossible to correct later on.
This is a really tough one. The ideal situation for an ambitious Weightlifter is that they would experience strong competition in their own home gym environment. Put half a dozen high grade weightlifters (of any boydweight) together in a training session and the result is usually competition to out perform each. Competitive weightlifters often display a strange combination of mutual support for one another, and outright annoyance if they are being out performed. In a nation such as Australia, however, high performance weightlifters may be training often on their own, or with just one training partner. Under these circumstances, the home gym environment does not propel the lifters forwards. Home gym heros suffer from being put on a pedestal and told they are marvellous, when in fact they are not.
Competition is also needed on a national level. An ideal situation would be that in every bodyweight category, there would be 5 or 6 lifters close together in performance. However in a nation such as Australia this is not the case. It is not helpful at all when there is one lifter who is far ahead of his/her closest rivals.
Left to their own devices, athletes generally make bad mistakes in the management of injuries that inevitably occur. The high performance athlete is a person who will train 'come hell and high water' and is often reluctant to cease training just because of a little bit of pain. The want to carry on training when something hurts is admirable psychology but not good practise. Unless specific action is taken to treat injuries, they just get worse. This is something you learn by experience or, if you are lucky, you have a coach whose experience enables them to identify problems and take action early.
High performance athletes, because of the crushing levels of work they perform, really need the support medical systems including physiotherapists, dieticians, doctors, surgeons and psychologists.
Planning and Management
If a person is to rise to a level of excellence in Weightlifting, they will need to undergo years of training in a highly organised way. Coaches and athletes tend to talk about training programs and this is but one aspect of the planning and management required to produce performance excellence. Training programs have to be stepped up, bit by bit, until the level of work done by the athlete is commensurate with their ultimate goals and objectives.
Other aspects of planning and management to produce performance excellence include:
- Managing the athlete's working life so that it is in harmony with their needs for training (this may mean the athlete will have to stop working and concentrate on training at some point).
- Planning the athlete's competition calendar (which events to compete in, which events to peak for, planning the travel requirements, etc)
- Planning the athlete's bodyweight and managing the athlete's diet
- Monitoring and measuring the athlete's output in training in tonnes lifted, average weight on the bar, number of reps, etc.
- Managing risks (e.g. avoidance of riding motor bikes, avoidance of alcohol and drugs)
The majority of people who enter into competitive weightlifting will only face these issues if and when they taste significant success and begin to believe they have a chance to compete in the Olympic Games or World Championships. But, alas, many athletes leave this far too late.
The problem for most athletes is that it is often the case that they have to take responsibility for all of the planning and management themselves. While most coaches will provide 'training programs' for athletes, few coaches in Weightlifting will have the time capacity to do more. This situation would only change if there were professional full-time weightlifting coaches.
High performance athletes must be supremely confident in their own abilities and have a view that they can compete favourably on the International stage.
The whole question of psychology warrants the longest chapter in any book on sport. It is psychology that determines whether an athlete will make the sacrifices, commit to horrendous training regimens and be completely disciplined enough to leave no stone unturned in the quest for higher levels of performance.
The really interesting thing about sport psychology is that supreme confidence in one's ability, a necessary factor for success, is really only developed by knowing that you have done everything you possibly could.
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