I’ll get to how I fixed my snatch later, but lets examine the idea of “changing”
Changing a blog post about change. Seems fitting.
I thought recently, about how I changed my snatch around to be more efficient, to be better, to lift more weight. I thought about literally “un-learning” 14 years plus of technique to make myself better and realized that this exercise in change was one of the most important things athletes and coaches can do.
Re-inventing yourself, re-tooling yourself is one of the most important things you can do.
Learning from El Tigré
Tiger woods serves as a model to a number of things: how to be a great golfer, how to single-mindedly achieve greatness in your profession, and, maybe most notably, how to not conduct yourself in a marriage.
He also serves as the best model to re-inventing yourself.
During his career El Tigre (as my dad likes to call him) has retooled his swing no less than 3 times. Each time he chose to re-tool his swing he was on top of the golfing world. Despite his perceived perfection, Tiger has decided on 3 separate occasions that “it” was not good enough.
He decided he could be better, even though he was on top, and each time he has finished his transformation he ended up better.
As coaches and athletes, the pursuit of doing things better, on a scale of crappy to perfection, is the only way we can truly be great.
Changing the coach
The best coaches I have ever met are at all the best seminars. They are at the Perform Better 3 day summit, they are at the IYCA summit, they are at advanced level certifications. In most cases they are speakers at these events, but they are also the ones that go into every lecture to learn more.
- Robert Dos Remedios sits in the front row to listen to Mike Boyle speak at Perform Better,
- The first time I met Joe Dowdell, he was in the front row of a seminar at Mike Robertson’s gym
- Mike Boyle does not reject anything until he has a chance to try it out. It’s how he ended up rejecting bilateral squatting in favor of RFE split squats.
Not once have I heard these coaches say, “that’s useless,” or “no thanks.” Instead, they listen, take notes and learn what they can apply to their population. They are open to changing.
This is not about continuing education, you could read any blog, and I am sure they will correctly tell you to go to seminars and read books. I am talking about a continuing evolution. Reading books, and attending seminars are one thing, but if you are not open to finding out that you are DEAD WRONG at those events then there is no point in attending.
Great coaches are open to change. They are open to opinions. They are willing to take a critical look at how they cue movements and how they write programs. They are willing to take this look and then decide that the way they were doing things was wrong.
If you ask me, I don’t do anything like I did 5 years ago. Not one thing, fortunately my athletes were doing well with what I used to do, but I wish I could give them what I know now. I have been wrong before, and I will continue to be wrong.
Good coaches change their programs and how they do things. Quite frankly, you suck as a coach if you are not trying to be better. If you don’t suck now, you will suck in 2 years, 3 years, or 5 years.
My Snatch Technique
So, back to my snatch we come. The inspiration for this thinking.
Athletes need to change too. Not in pursuit of Woodsian perfection, but certainly in an effort to reach better technical effort on everything they do. I undertook a massive change in my training 6 months ago, in hopes of both bettering my own ability as an athlete, and to better coach my athletes.
It was one of the best things I have ever done.
Sixteen years ago I learned how to snatch for the first time. I learned from one of the best coaches in the US, a 1992 Olympian, and a guy that went on to become the United States national team coach. I really couldn’t have learned from anyone better.
I used what I learned from my coaches for the last decade and a half. It served me well too, I snatched 320 lbs at a bodyweight of 190 lbs with that technique, but as I have gotten older I realized that my lifts were wrong.
Watching elite athletes use the Olympic lifts I realized that there were stark differences in technique between myself and the best lifters. My deep understanding of the subject was rocked. What I was doing was waaaaay different than what the best were doing.
My goal has never been to compete against the world’s best in weightlifting. Maybe it was when I was 16 or 17 but that hasn’t been the goal for a long time. I don’t have elite level strength and speed to do it, but I do want to have an elite level understanding of the subject. I wanted elite level understanding to become an elite level coach, for me that means I have to learn to do it in the best way possible.
I decided that my snatch had to change. Six months ago I re-did everything with how I started (which, if you know me, is more than 50% of the entire lift). In so doing, I figured out why for my entire life, I liked to do the hang snatch and snatch from blocks so much more than doing a snatch from the ground.
Instead of being in control of the bar, the old way had the bar controlling me the entire time. It was in front of me, and my pull from the ground was wrong.
Akin to trying to memorize an entire chapter of a book, my snatch required endless repetitions.
Changing my snatch technique changed everything
If, at any point in my life, I had decided that my snatch was “good enough” or even perfect I wouldn’t be the coach I am, or the athlete that I am. It’s actually quite likely that I would have ended up hurting myself, or hurting my athletes by coaching them in the old way.
If you are doing it the same way, your old way, it may work, but you can bet your butt that it won’t get the job done for much longer. Methods evolve, and you have to be open to finding out that you are wrong and fixing your mistakes.
Finally, here is my snatch 6 months ago, and what it is today. Lots of differences.