Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Learning How to Correctly Teach the Olympic Lifts

Due to my recent move from Texas to California, it has been awhile since my last blog post as I have been dealing with all the stuff that surrounds a big move from one state to another. Now that we are pretty much settled in, I am looking forward to getting my blog back up and running. For those of you who have read my blog in the past, you will notice a shift in focus to more athletic coaching related topics. Shortly after moving, I was offered a unique opportunity at a large public high school to become the head strength and conditioning coach along with a full-time teaching position. I am excited for the opportunity to be able to focus most of my time on the coaching side of things now and look forward to sharing some of my thoughts through this blog. With that being said, I thought it would be good to start things off my providing some useful resources for any coach seeking to learn how to teach the Olympic weightlifting movements correctly.

As most coaches would agree, the Olympic weightlifting movements can be quite effective for developing the type of strength and power that transfers well to improved sport performance; however, this effectiveness is dependent on the movements being TAUGHT and PERFORMED correctly. If proper technique is taught and reinforced daily, the Olympic lifts and their derivatives are a safe and highly efficient means for building many of the physical qualities we desire in our athletes such as strength, power, mobility and kinesthetic awareness. 

As with any teaching situation, it is critical to remember that athletes will typically mimic what they see the teacher/coach demonstrate in terms of movement technique. If the demonstration is incorrect during the learning process, athletes are not going to magically figure it out and perform the movement correctly. For this reason, it is vital that the coach in charge of introducing new movements in a strength program is proficient in teaching the technical components of the Olympic lifts correctly in a group setting or have someone that is capable of doing so.  

First and foremost, I recommend that any coach seeking to teach the Olympic lifts take the Level 1 Sports Performance course offered by USA Weightlifting (the national governing body for weightlifting in the U.S.). The purpose of the course, as stated on the USAW website, is "to take all participants through complete technical progressions of the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and all associated movements including Power Snatch, Power Clean, Power Jerk, Squat variations, and pulling progressions." This course typically includes a significant hands-on component which is essential for any coach wanting to learn how to teach these movements correctly. For more detailed information on this course, visit the following link: 

If taking this course is not a feasible option, my next recommendation would be to find an experienced weightlifting coach in your area whom you could spend some time with learning the lifts and how to teach the technical components correctly. Learning under an experienced coach is actually the best route one could take but may not be realistic for every individual.  A directory of all the weightlifting clubs and coaches throughout the United States can be viewed on the USAW website at the following link: 


Finally, if neither of the above mentioned options are possible for your situation, I recommend at least purchasing a good instructional video that will teach you the step-by-step progressions for learning and teaching the lifts. The following video is an excellent alternative: 


Although it does take some time to learn the technical components of the weightlifting movements and implement them into a strength and conditioning program, the payoff is well worth it for maximizing the performance of your athletes. 

CJ Del Balso - MS, CSCS, USAW National Coach 
Twitter: @cjdelbalso 

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