LEO’S LESSONS FROM LOMBARDI

For those who know me well, you will know that I am a huge Green Bay Packer fan and have been one since way back in the day when Vince Lombardi was coach and Jim Taylor was my first real football hero.  Recently, a college buddy of mine (who just happens to be a huge Packer fan as well) emailed me an article by Dan Oswald (CEO of BLR) in his “Oswald Letter”.   The article really summarized one of the major reasons Lombardi is one of my all-time favorite coaches.

The following story was chronicled in the article.  Going into the coaching clinic given by Coach Lombardi, another great coach was at the clinic thinking he knew a lot about football (John Madden).

He was astounded by what occurred during that clinic.  In his own words, “I went in there cocky thinking I knew everything there was to know about football, and he spent eight hours talking about one play – the power sweep.  He talked for four hours, took a break, and came back and talked four more.  I realized then that I actually knew nothing about football.”

Here are the major concepts to be taken from this clinic by Vince Lombardi:

  • Attention to Detail:  Lombardi spent 8 hours just going over one single play.  It is often the little things that make a big difference.  As he once told his players, “Gentlemen, we will chase perfection and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it.  But, along the way, we shall catch excellence”.
  • Mastery of the Subject:  As a teacher/coach/leader of athletes, your knowledge inspires those around you and makes success possible.  As Lombardi says, “Success demands singleness of purpose”.
  • Clear Understanding of Each Person’s Role in Success In order to work together as a “team”, the coach has to clearly convey what each person’s role is as part of the whole.  Lombardi stated, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual”.
  • The Importance of Teaching Good coaches have to be good teachers.  Even as a manager, you must be a good teacher.  You can’t expect your people to properly execute movements they don’t understand.  As Lombardi said, “You cannot coach them what they have not been taught”.

Think about these concepts and how they apply to your situation as coach/teacher/leader.  Are you on the path of consistent, quality coaching?  There are a lot of so-called “experts” out there.  Seek out the highly qualified, highly respected coaches and teachers who they themselves are constantly learning.  The primary lesson to be learned is – be humble, be a life-long learner.  There is SO much information out there.  Keep learning and never be satisfied that you know it all!  For me, the lessons taught in this one session are great lessons to be learned.  In fact, I try diligently to use these concepts in the way I teach and coach and the way I manage my team (East Coast Gold).  It has proven to be a successful game plan!

MENTAL TRAINING – Making the Difference!

mentalcdsFred Hatfield, renowned lifter, coach and educator, once told me, “Training is all about being either good, better or best”.  How true!  If you are really aiming to be the very best, then you must train every aspect of athletic development.  Everyone can train the physical part, but not everyone takes the time or effort to train the MENTAL part!  It truly can make the difference whether you reach your goals!

Mental training, which includes relaxation, visualization, goal setting and positive reinforcement, should be as important a part of the lifter’s training as any of the physical training.  Unfortunately, it is often ignored altogether.  The great athletes know that ALL aspects of training make the most complete and efficient lifters.  If you ignore one or more of these important aspects of training, you will never reach your full potential!

I have put together a two disc set to help you on your way to developing skills to get that mental edge.  They are designed specifically for the weightlifter in mind.  One disc is for pre-workout or on non-workout days and the second disc is for immediately after doing either the snatch or the clean and jerk.

 Disc One:      Pre-Workout

 Use this disc before the entire training session starts or between training sessions.  It begins with relaxation to make you more receptive to the information being processed and then visualization starts.  Remember, you can either visualize from the “outside looking in”, like viewing yourself in a video, or from the “inside looking out”; with this technique, you look outside your body to perceive your surroundings, your focal point, the sights and sounds and smells, etc.  Either way is fine.  For this session, position yourself in a comfortable, reclining or seated position.  You can even perform the session before you go to bed.

 Disc Two:       Post-Workout

This disc is used between lifts.  You would actually stop after one lift workout (either snatch or clean and jerk), and take 15 minutes or so to listen to the disc, relax and do the mental and kinesthetic imagery.  While performing this visualization exercise, you can either be seated or reclining, but you will not be able to get as comfortable as the other disc since you will be in or near the gym.  Also, touching the bar, chalk, etc. tends to enhance the effect of the training.   After the session is complete, then finish your workout.  By performing the exercise after the lift, you reinforce what you have just done.  Part 1 (the first 15 minutes into the disc) is for the snatch and Part 2 (about 15 minutes into the disc) is for the clean & jerk.

To get the Mental Training CDs, check out our store.

KEEP WORKING ON GETTING STRONGER BOTH MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY!!!

WILL YOU GO FOR GOOD, BETTER OR BEST??

“Setup” to Fix That Problem JERK!

Adam_JerkThere is nothing more frustrating than missing the jerk after a great clean!  And, think about it, to hit a good split jerk, you really only have to push the bar about 6-8” or just above the hairline.  You should never miss a jerk! (Well, in theory anyway!)

The biggest problem I have seen is an improper setup.  Without a strong, tight core, the bar “sags” on the dip, driving the bar forward and enough out of position to cause the miss.  In order for the bar to be driven overhead properly, ending up “right behind the ears”, the setup has to be right.

Here is what I look for in the perfect setup:

  • Take a big breath in
  • As the inhalation takes place, “lift and spread” the chest setting a wider “table” for the bar to set on (the bar sitting on the clavicles and shoulders)
    • Be careful not to lift the shoulder so the bar loses contact with the clavicles
  • The elbows will spread out a bit and even drop down just a tad
    • Many lifters try to lift the elbows without spreading them but when they “dip”, the elbows tend to drop, particularly with heavier weights
  • Relax the hands but keep the core tight

With this proper setup, now the body is in the correct position for the dip to be straight down with the elbows staying in that same neutral position as at the start.  Think of the body as the “fulcrum” allowing the bar to get that nice bend and rebound.  The bar has an elastic quality to it and this allows the bar to work for you.

Bottom line is that a proper jerk is all about center of gravity.  By getting the body in the proper setup position, the center of gravity of the bar stays as close to the lifters center of gravity as possible.  Then, on the dip and drive, the lifter is able to utilize his/her powerful legs and get the most out of the drive.  Straight down, straight up, perfect split position.

Never want to miss a jerk again??  Set it up right and you are on the right track!

Be the Best Coach That You Can Be

Leo_TeachingThere are a ton of great coaches out there.  Over the years, I have been so fortunate to have learned so much from so many and I will continue to learn!  It is crucial in any coach’s development to be a “lifelong learner”. As I always say, “When you stop learning, you have stopped living.”

That being said, some of my personal “mentors” were highlighted in an awesome book entitled “Beyond Winning”, by Gary Walton.  The six coaches studied included two of my all-time favorites, Vince Lombardi and John Wooden.  Man, if you can’t learn from those two of the best coaches ever, then who can you learn from?

Reading through the book (for about the 4th time!), the philosophies and values of all the coaches could be summarized by listing the 10 characteristics common to them all:

  1. Committed to individual integrity, values and personal growth
  2. Profound thinkers who see themselves as educators, not just coaches
  3. Well-educated (formally and informally) in a liberal arts tradition
  4. Long time commitment to their athletes and their institution
  5. Willing to experiment with new ideas
  6. Value the coach-athlete relationship, winning aside
  7. Understand and appreciate human nature
  8. Love their sport and work
  9. Honest and strong in character
  10. Human and therefore imperfect

Everyone wants to be regarded as a top notch, quality coach right away.  Everyone wants immediate results.  Improvement and winning has to happen NOW.  But it is a process.  And this process takes time.

As you examine the list of values and philosophies and compare them to how you are as a coach, ask yourself how you match up with the best coaches of all time.

 

“Pursue Perfection, Achieve Excellence”

East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team – How We Tick!

ECC26Our weightlifting team, East Coast Gold, was developed in 1992. It started as a small, four-man team that was fun but not real impressive in numbers. But, we had the core of great athletes who made it possible to build and develop from there. Now we are one of the biggest teams in the country and we are very active in many USAW activities.  We have created lifters and coaches throughout the entire east coast (and beyond) with satellite centers and various sites for training and coaching education.  It is a plan that is working!

The team was developed on the premise that the INDIVIDUAL athlete would profit from being on a team. This would be from a lifting standpoint as well as a financial and social aspect. By providing team support, the athlete could perform better if they didn’t have to be concerned with many of the small details that the team could help alleviate. From working in the warm-up room, to developing workout plans, to offering nutritional advice, to helping with rooms and flights, the team is there for the individual. It has turned out that many lifters were seeking such support and wanted to benefit from the team concept. By having the team take care of many of the extrinsic factors, the athlete could really focus on the task at hand – lifting bigger weights!!

As it turned out, the premise sort of snowballed into a much larger picture. After a period of time, the individual was still number one on the priority list, but the team itself was beginning to take on a larger role. Doing well in team competitions became an integral part of the strategy. This improved the individual even more! The motivation of performing for individual improvement as well as boosting the team seemed to help the lifters reach higher heights.

The social aspect of performing with a team is an incredible boost to the lifters as well. Many lifters are out there training alone and have no support at all. By being a member of a team, they are able to train and compete, knowing that no matter what happens, their teammates are there to help and support. This means so much for the individual performances.

There are many awesome teams in the U.S. I feel we are fortunate enough to be counted as one of them. It is because we put the athlete first that the team has succeeded.  We continue to grow and prosper and, even though, we are a really large team, through constant communication via the web and team newsletters, we all seem to stay in close touch with each other.  We like to view it as a very large family!

The “Secret” of Weightlifting

normal_2006_Natls_Men_94_Fondale_132I have been very fortunate to have been selected to work as coach or team leader for numerous World, Pan Am and Olympic Games.  Working with the best in the United States is always an awesome experience!  To watch them train and to discuss training philosophy is always an enlightening experience. Their work ethic and mental approach are always fun to explore.

There was one incident that stuck in my mind from way back at the Pan Am Games years ago.   It is nothing earth shattering  but something that needs to be discussed. Robin Goad has always been one of my favorite lifters – besides being a World Champion, Pan Am Gold medalist, former World Record holder and many time National Champion and record holder, she was also an outstanding representative of our sport and always extremely competitive no matter what the conditions. (Now she can even boast of having a daughter who is following in her famous footsteps!!)  In spite of all these glowing credentials, she is still trying to learn more and more to make herself even better.

Men’s National Team Coach at the time, Dragomir Cioroslan and I were walking down the hall of the dorm at the Pan Ams when we passed the room of one of our lifters. In the room where a group of our women lifters were just hanging out and talking. Dragomir and I stopped in to say HI when Robin asked Drago – “What is the secret to weightlifting?”   Here was one of the best lifters in the USA as well as the World and she was asking for the “secret” of weightlifting!

What intrigued me about this seemingly simple question, was that it was coming from one of our best all time. As good as she was, she still wanted to get better. As good as she was, she wanted to have any information out there that others might be utilizing for improvement that she was missing out on.

Well, the bottom line is that there is no secret. If there were some magic formula that would make great weightlifters, we would have tons of them. The only so-called secret to success in weightlifting (or any endeavor for that matter) is hard work, discipline, determination and persistence. Having the discipline to work on weak areas and doing what it takes to get the job done. As Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will”. These traits are the “secret” to success. We all have within us the ability to succeed!

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