One from the ground. Two from the hang.

April 25, 2012

While coaching, it is always important to keep in mind that I am not the teacher, the barbell is.  A simple fact of motor learning is that there is a huge difference between knowing about something and knowing how to do something.  I could tell you all the tasks necessary to be able to successfully dribble a basketball and shoot it in a hoop, but if you were to ask me to do it, you would see why I was always picked last in P.E.  This concept is even more apparent with a barbell.  That is why you will never see me in the gym, giving extended lectures on how you are not actually shrugging the bar upwards as much as you are extending and guiding yourself underneath the bar.  You will never hear me say the words: scoop, double knee bend, first pull, second pull, catapult or triple extension.  All of these phrases are just minutia; great for describing weightlifting while discussing it but not very effective for getting an athlete to snatch 120.  And I don’t know about you, but I didn’t start weightlifting so that I could critique Youtube videos and contribute to discussions on forums.  As a coach, it is my job to facilitate learning.  This is done first by analysis and then by choosing exercises and rep schemes that address any issues that I see, as well as reinforce what the athlete already does properly.  Simply put, I think much but say little.

Derek knows this better than anybody.  I will be sitting on my stack of 20kg plates.  Propped up against a squat rack, I will sit and watch as he misses 85% of his best snatch 3 consecutive times in a row.  He knows the rule: “three and then you’re done (unless I say differently).”  Slowly, he will turn to me, a half-grin upon his face, hoping to deter what he knows is coming next.  I extend my weathered paw.  And with one waving motion I signal for him to strip the bar to 50kg.  With my battered wing still extended, I assume a different identity.  I am no longer Brown Thunder, but an old hermit at the bottom of the mountain, my words; a guide to the summit.  I am the owl poised atop a branch of an ancient sequoia.  I am 1,000 years old.  In the raspy growl of a retired samurai, I say this:

“One from the ground.  Two from the hang.”

Derek hangs his head as if he’s heard this 1,000 times before.  He hasn’t.  Not yet.

This is probably the most accurate image depicting how I look in between sets.

To you younger coaches out there just getting into the game, my advice is this.  Keep your analysis concise and your solutions simple.  Leave the elaborate explanations to the experts who’s book you’re reading or the online Olympic weightlifting heroes who peruse Youtube looking for videos to “dislike.”

7 Responses to “One from the ground. Two from the hang.”

  1. jstadt7 said

    Really don’t think it could’ve been said any better, Ben. I present to you this e-high-five for the effort.

  2. zapata said


  3. kellyguillory said

    Very well said.

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