Quality of work: A key factor for success in Olympic Weightlifting

Towards a definition of quality

Training programs typically specify the exercises to be performed, the quantity of work and the intensity to be reached but rarely describe the quality of work. The determination of this very complex and profoundly important aspect of training is generally the responsibility of the coach and is highly dependent on their knowledge and skill. In the early stages of learning, the quality of work performed by the athlete will be a key factor in their skill development and will strongly influence their progress. There is always a tendency for participants in Olympic Weightlifting to be more interested in the extent of effort needed to complete the training program, rather than be concerned about the types of behaviour that produce high quality training. It is important, therefore, for coaches and athletes to develop an understanding of what is meant by ‘quality’ in the context of Weightlifting specific training and provide guidelines for athletes. Table 3-9 provides criteria that may be useful in evaluating the quality of work performed.

Table 3‑9: Criteria for quality of work
Quality is achieved whenCoaches should consider
The athlete is motivated and mentally engaged throughout the entirety of the training session.Learning is a key factor in the motivation of the athlete. The coach must find a way to keep athletes mentally engaged in their training by thoroughly occupying them with activity and taking opportunities to teach concepts of technique and principles of training.
Movement fluency of the athlete does not suffer from soreness or pain.Attempting to train through pain and injury can significantly inhibit movement quality and negatively affect the development of sound technique. Coaches should be vigilant to prevent athletes from ignoring pain.
Technical execution of lifts does not repeatedly break down due to the heaviness of the barbell.Raising the weight of the bar until failure occurs is a typical behaviour of athletes if they make their own decisions. The more failure that is experienced in training, the more likely an athlete will not develop the confidence needed for the competition platform.
Exercises are performed with deliberate intentions to achieve technical goals.In the performance of all Weightlifting exercises, including exercises traditionally viewed as strength development exercises, there are always technical goals to be pursued. It is largely the responsibility of the coach to ensure that athletes are directed towards technical goals .
The athlete demonstrates an appreciation of productivity and time usage in training.Athletes will vary in their ability to use time wisely in training. Coaches must educate athletes in regard to productive and unproductive behaviour. In the modern gym environment, there numerous distractions including especially the mobile phone.

Developing good training habits

The achievement of high-quality training is about athlete behaviour, and this should not be misconstrued. In the training hall, behaviour is not simply about following rules and being friendly to other gym users but more especially about the training habits of the athlete. Coaches must be very active in helping athletes to understand the long-term influence of training habits on their performance potential. Athletes who consistently warm-up well, work on flexibility, strive for good technique, focus on training objectives, and fill their training time with success will undoubtedly progress further and faster than those who do not. Athletes who are inattentive to coaching advice and develop poor training habits will suffer the anguish of frequent failure, injury, and limited progress, and will soon lose motivation for training.

The quality of work performed is arguably a distinguishing factor between athletes and is critical to their success. Beginners have an urgent need to understand what constitutes quality training and in particular the importance of restricting the weight of the barbell to focus on developing technique. Coaches, at times, must be strongly persuasive with athletes to follow instructions rather than invent their own training habits and processes.

This article is an excerpt of the book: Coaching Weightlifting Illustrated: A systematic approach to coaching beginners in Olympic Weightlifting by Lionel Isaac. If you live in Australia, you can get a substantial discount compared with the Amazon price.

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