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Items To Consider When You Choose A Weightlifting Coach

I frequently get inquiries from enthusiastic neophytes who are anxious to find a great coach to take them to weightlifting greatness.

This free newsletter is to inform you of events, and thoughts regarding the training of weightlifters and the incorporation of the Olympics lifts and their derivatives into the training of athletes.


I frequently get inquiries from enthusiastic neophytes who are anxious to find a great coach to take them to weightlifting greatness. This prompted me to pen this piece as there are not a lot of great coaches running loose in the U.S., but plenty who would tell you that they are. Furthermore I think that this article might work well as a general road map for aspiring coaches that might want to move up the coaching ladder.

I’ve listed the criteria in a hierarchy, and although very few coaches have achieved all of them, the more of them achieved by your prospective coach, the better off you will be in your coaching search. I’ve also described ways in which some individuals may get around the most important standards.

1) USA Weightlifting Level. Any coach who has been involved for awhile and is serious is coaching athletes in USAW meets, taking the courses and moving up through the levels from 1 to 5 in order to be considered for international travel. Usually this person is passionate about coaching and the sport. Bear in mind that of late, the Level 2 and 3 courses have gone unrevised and so not a lot of coaches are achieving these levels. Furthemore the first 2 levels can be achieved by merely attending clinics and passing exams. To achieve Level 4 and 5, the coach must perform at international competitions and develop athletes that qualify for these types of events. The vast majority of level 4 and 5 coaches are legitimate.

2) Coaching record. This is the area to inquire about whether your prospective coach has or has not achieved one of the upper levels of the USAW coaching ladder. You should determine the number of national and international competitors this coach has developed and whether or not the coach in question worked with these athletes from the very beginning of their careers. It is not unusual for some programs to develop some sponsorship and then become involved in the process of recruiting athletes to their programs. In this situation the coach is then credited with coaching a ready made product. Beware of this.

3) Anecdotal support and referral. Many athletes that have come to me over the years have done so because they spoke with a number of individuals in the weightlifting community who were familiar with my coaching. This is one of the most reliable ways to determine the quality of a coach.

4) Athletic Record. There is no substitute for first-hand experience in the sport by the coach. The coach does not have to have performed at the Olympic level, but should have trained enough to have lived the athlete life style, understands the psyche and emotions of mounting the competition platform, and has felt the severity of training and lifting enough to convey those feelings to the athlete. This is a big plus but should not be the sole criterion.

5) NSCA CSCS. Nothing specific about weightlifting coaching proficiency indicated by this certification, but it does attest to the seriousness of the coach and desire to work with athletes in a professional manner. For coaches whose academic background is not in the sciences, it offers an opportunity to display some understanding of the scientific principles involved in the training of athletes. It also provides the coach with an opportunity to opt for 3 million in liability insurance, so it can represent a commitment to professionalism. It should be considered in addition to one of the previous criteria.

6) Academic Major. A major in sports or exercise science can be a plus. This is helpful as it means that the coach has enough of a scientific background to be able to understand the mechanisms involved in the physical development of an athlete. Unfortunately these degrees can be accomplished without any experience as an athlete or a coach. Degrees from Eastern European universities are probably the real deal, but may be difficult to verify.

7) Publications. Instructional publications in legitimate periodicals, books or websites can be indicative of a desire to spread good information within the community. Again, this one can be achieved without ever coaching an athlete.

Various combinations of the aforementioned criteria should help you determine the best coach for you. Now I suppose I could write an article going the other way and provide coaches with a set of criteria to determine the seriousness of the athlete, but I’m sure all the legit coaches already have that figured out. It might make for an interesting series of anecdotal recounting, however.


This question never goes away due to a lot of misplaced beliefs and misinformed advice from, among others, physicians.

At this point, I’d like to interject some thoughts that are probably a little different from the standard orthodoxy on this type. My thoughts are coming from a coach who is interested primarily in the ultimate development of the athlete.

First of all weightlifting (we’re talking snatch, clean & jerk and associated exercises here), is NOT going to stunt growth. If that were true then there would be no need for bodyweight classes. If we look at the weightlifters developed in state sponsored programs, we find that they range in height from approximately 4’10” to 6’2″. If they all started at age 12, which they all probably did, they would all be short and probably all end up in two light weight classes (kind of like female gymnasts, who really do have their growth stunted).

Pre-teens should be trained with weights so that they develop technical skills, not to employ weights that could be potentially harmful. Much more attention should be given over to the development of more general athletic abilities and capacities. This, by the way, is done with an eye toward developing the youths in question into competitive weightlifters.

A fair amount of the training should be dedicated to increasing training capacity, competitive spirit and lifestyle regimentation. Only a relatively small portion of the training should be given over to the lifting of weights. This should not affect skeletal growth adversely.

Furthermore there have been no peer reviewed studies completed that even hint at growth impairment by proper weightlifting.


Former world weightlifting champion, Gyozo Veres of Hungary passed away on February 1st of undisclosed causes in Melbourne, Australia. Veres, age 74, won the world championships in 1962 and 1963. He narrowly defeated American weightlifting icon Tommy Kono at the 1962 world’s in Budapest. On that occasion he gained an advantage by succeeding with a lopsided press that was passed 2 whites to 1 red. This caused a great controversy and was one of a series of “illegal” lifts that eventually led to the removal of the lift from competition in 1972.

A bronze medalist at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, Veres retired in 1970 and became a weightlifting coach. He settled in Australia in 1974.


The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) has suspended the Railways Promotion Board and the Maharashtra State Weightlifting Association from domestic competition for one year. Railway Sports had 6 athletes test positive for their B samples, while Maharashtra had 3 athletes had their B samples confirmed.

It seems as though the more Indian athletes are caught and suspended, the more frequently new violations come to light. Three two-year suspensions and a half million dollar fine within a 10 year period from the International Weightlifting Federation has done little to blunt the fervor of the Indians for the use of performance enhancing substances.


John Weatherly, a writer for, recently wrote a piece questioning the appropriateness of Sports Science departments at U.S. Universities using this designation considering the lack of true Sports Science taking place in this country.

Weatherly, an acquaintance of top sports scientists Mike Stone and Andy Fry, questions the relationship between academic Sports Science departments and Athletic Departments, a relationship that exists tenuously at best.

My experience with this phenomenon has come from observing the lack of communication between sports coaches and sport scientists. For those of you who read my blogs on the topic of Coaching and Science Education (February 3 and 4 at can easily see why coaches and scientists in Eastern Europe and certain other countries are conversant because of their common education during the first two years at university.

In the U.S. there is no point at which sport scientists and coaches share a common professional experience. In spite of the NSCA’s slogan of “Bridging the Gap”, the difference will not be overcome until the Athletic Departments begin requiring science education for their coaches.


The following question appeared on the Livestrong blog page:

“How Strong Should An Olympic Weightlifter’s Rotator Cuff Be?”

Who would write this? Certainly, neither an athlete nor a coach.


Snatch Clinic with Melanie Roach: February 19th at the Thrush Sports Performance Center in Auburn, WA. $100.00 per person. Sign up at This may be one of those rare opportunities to be coached by an Olympian and former world record holder.

California State Games and State Games of America will be held at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego, CA on Sunday, August 7, 2011. On line registration at See you there!

Team Leader Applications due on February 21, 2011. Anyone interested in serving as team leader for the U.S. teams to the 2011 Youth World Championships, Junior World Championships, World Championships or Pan American Games have until February 21 to file a cover letter and resume. More details at 719-866-4508. A brief description is available on the blog page at WHAT’S NEW AT TAKANO ATHLETICS

The March 12, 2011 St. Patty’s Day meet originally scheduled for Chikara Strength in Whittier has been closed, but PHAT Elvis and Crossfit High Voltage will step in and hold a weightlifting meet that same day at Crossfit High Voltage, 219 W. Palm Ave. in Burbank, CA. We’re hoping to attract a large portion of the Southern California weightlifting community. The entry will be posted on the website as soon as the sanction is approved.

I’ll be the instructor at USA Weightlifting Level 1 courses at Crossfit Fast in Westlake, CA on the April 23-24 weekend. I’ll also be instructing a Level 1 course at Camp Pendleton on April 4,5. You can sign up for either one at the USA Weightlifting website A good opportunity here for aspiring coaches to get started on the USAW certification pathway.

Eric Malzone and Traver Boehm have invited me to put on a clinic sometime this summer at Crossfit Pacific Coast in Santa Barbara. More details to follow.

I’ve been notified that I’ll be speaking at this summer’s NSCA national conference in Las Vegas. The topic will be The Determination and Planning of Long Term Strength and Conditioning Training based on the Training of Weightlifters. Hope to see you all there!

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Copyright 2011 Robert Takano / Takano Athletics. All rights reserved. Used with Permission

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