Jennifer Query, MA, CSCS, USAW
As strength coaches and performance trainers we have all heard of the USAW. Yes, the association is primarily for competitive weight lifters and club coaches looking to either become certified to coach competitive weight lifting athletes or for the athlete themselves. But, the USAW also has developed a Sports Performance Coaches Certification. This certification course was designed for strength coaches, athletic trainers and performance trainers. I recently attended the clinic at The University of South Florida’s new athletic complex and found the clinic to be very beneficial and walked away with much more than just another certification. Rick Lansky was the USAW instructor for this clinic and did an excellent job. A conference/clinic is only successful I feel if the instructor /instructors are not only great teachers/coaches but truly care about their participants and or audience. Rich Lansky did an outstanding job at the USAW Clinic. Coach Lansky is the Director of Athletic Performance for the OptimumPerformanceTrainingCenter in Sarasota, Florida. He is also a USAW U.S. International Coach. It was clear from the beginning of the conference on Saturday all the way through the examination on Sunday that Coach Lansky is very knowledgeable and does an excellent job coaching and teaching the clinic.
The clinic covers everything from designing a sport specific dynamic warm-up, breaking down and teaching sequences of Olympic Lifts and plyometric design and program implementation. The great aspect about this clinic I found was that you are actually going through the exercises yourself. Be prepared for a lot of repetitions and yes, you will probably be sore by the end of the clinic! I think a downfall of many clinics is that you are sitting the whole time listening to someone else tell you how to coach and perform instead of actually going through it yourself and learning not only the proper way to do the exercise but how to coach it as well. I believe to coaching aspect is extremely important. Many strength coaches can design great programs but can the implement and coach them well to their athletes and teams?
The Olympic lifting teaching progression that the USAW recommends is excellent. It not only teaches the lifts in a great progression so the athlete can master his or her form but also provides great alternatives for the traditional power clean and snatch. The alternatives still allow the athlete to achieve triple extension which is a large part of implementing Olympic Lifts into the program in the first place! But, how many athletes truly reach triple extension during their Olympic Lift? I believe this a huge flaw that some of our athletes are making and they may or may not realize it. This is why the “coaching aspect” of Olympic lifting is so important. Having a team of 30 athletes all power cleaning at once can be impossible for one strength coach to successfully coach. The teaching progression that the USAW recommends helps to ensure that the athletes learn the lifts in a proper progression that will develop explosiveness along with sound technique. This is a very important factor in making sure the athletes gain the benefits from the Olympics without suffering from injury. I found the few coaching cues that I picked up from the clinic made a significant difference when I came home and applied them with coaching my athletes through the Olympic Lifts we use. Sometimes small adjustments can make all the difference in the world!
Overall, I feel the USWA Level 1 Coaches Performance Training Clinic was definitely time well spent. Yes, I was successful in passing the examination portion of the clinic, but I feel the little things I picked up from the clinic really benefited me as a coach. For example, the teaching progression I use to teach the power clean to my athletes. I picked up on two different coaching techniques/styles that I feel have tremendously helped me as a coach teach my athletes the execution of the power clean. Let’s face it we can all become better coaches and learn new ways to better our athletes. This is why getting to conferences and clinics I feel are so important for all strength and conditioning coaches. Yes, the USAW specializes in training Olympic bound weightlifting athletes but I feel they have done an excellent job formatting the Level 1 Performance Coaches Clinic to relate to sport performance athletes.