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Processing verbal cues: personality

“You are so talented in _______ .”
At first glance these would seem like nice or even kind words.  In reality their delivery and absorption carry consequences.  What do you mean, Triple C?  Have you lost your mind?
For example, what if the person you say this to has a somewhat lazy personality?  They may take your comment to heart and not work very hard.  Or even sabotage themselves.  A great example of this is Nick Kyrgios from the tennis world.  Of course, he has a lot of talent and has worked hard to be a pro at tennis.  However he is so talented in some people’s opinions that he is wasting that talent in tennis by doing other things.  Would this statement help or hurt him?  OR, why does he sabotage himself?
“You are pretty talented at writing, maybe you should look at making a living at writing?”  The person to whom this was told May think,”But that is easy and comes naturally.  I want to do something more challenging.”  So he selects something totally contrary to his personality and desire precisely because someone told him he is talented at one thing.
Or what about the person who is say a distance runner?  He, she, or it is running intervals on the track.  If you have never done these before they are very physically demanding.  After finishing one then bending over to puke out the very last little bit of lunch, you ask her, “Do you feel OK?”
To your surprise, the answer is, “yeah I feel great and doing these makes me better.”  She liked the feeling of doing the work and the results it brings.  She performs to the best of her abilities and actually looks forward to the training sessions.  Plus, the feelings in her muscles and the burning ache in her lungs she kinda digs.  Is she talented in running?  Hard to say though her mindset would seem to indicate she likes to apply herself to a task.
It is extremely difficult if not impossible to explain this attraction to the practice and physical feelings associated with that practice to a layman.  Someone who has not spent some time under the squat bar does not understand why you like it.  It’s not like you actually like squats; you like the strength, the confidence, the feelings that come from doing the hard work in the squat.
Bottom line is that it is the mental make up and personality of the person being told he is talented as to what happens.  That does not mean that if you not heard it from me that you are talent free; it means that this message will be delivered to you to yield maximum benefit FOR YOU.
“You gotta read the person and deliver the most appropriate message for maximum impact,” said The Platform.
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In an email, I wrote about the selection of words and some impact that they might have.  Intended or not.  Here is a post I read recently from a sports psychologist relating a story about a golfer and his coach.
“…I worked with a young golfer once. 14 years old, scratch handicap, incredible putter. He had a bad putting day and his coach said…”Even the best putters in the world miss loads. Look at the stats from the PGA Tour – the very best putter only makes 50% of 8 foot putts. Isn’t that amazing…that’s a fact”
…the 14 year old looked up teary eyed
“But I can’t believe that…I make every 8 foot putt. I’m really good from 8 foot”
And from then on the 14 year old became an average putter. Why? Perhaps because he had been exposed to objectivity. He’d seen fact. He couldn’t create his own reality.
When he’d missed 8 foot putts before he hadn’t even thought about it. “It doesn’t matter. I always hole those” he said to himself…and off he went to the next tee. He didn’t think about missing the next one. He didn’t think about stats…he didn’t contemplate the idea that the best players miss 50% from 8 foot.
Should the coach be blamed? Absolutely not. He was doing his job…he was helping the player think rationally.
Only sometimes coaches get their craft wrong. They lean towards the science rather than the art. Other times they lean towards the art when science was the best explanation.
It’s likely a balance and it’s a blend…that sweet-spot…that’s the craft of coaching…”
In our club, we have three coaches.  All of us love to coach though each sees the lift in a different manner.  Each processes it in a different manner and each decides whether to give feedback and what that feedback might be.  Lifters lift in a different manner and each has his own communication method.  This allows cues or short instructions to be absorbed or rejected.  On any given day, lifters and coaches may or may not align.  Ultimately, the direction has to be toward better technique with more weight on the bar to the best of that individual’s ability.   There is art and science to making progress.
We have had lifters who only responded to harsh, though kind, criticism.  We have had other lifters who could only process what they wanted to hear versus needed to hear.  “You’re not strong enough today” would lead to tears being shed.
 
We have had a number of lifters who have left our club to go elsewhere as they thought that this path to progress was not to their liking and that our coaching was not getting them there.  I agree that there are times that there are irreconcilable differences between a coach and a lifter and this issue should be addressed prior to any drastic changes being made. Believe me, it rarely happens.  I can think of only one lifter (of course she did make the Olympics) who left and actually had their lifts improve.  All the other lifters either left the sport shortly thereafter or, which I think is worse, labored for months and years never putting much more than a kilo or two on their lifts.  Sigh.
“Hang around, get coached, make progress,’ said the Platform, “Who knew?”
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Frustration and lack of Progress

Is there really such a thing?  Indeed, there is.  Hitting a plateau, especially after the spectacular progress you make in the first months of lifting, is the epitome of frustration.  Here, dear lifter, are some ideas to help you to move past this obstacle in your path to more weight overhead.

Lifter, I heard what you were saying the other day when we were talking about being frustrated…  Here are some ideas I noodled out that complement what we talked about.  Sometimes, it is changing your angle of approach and things become more clear.
1.  Mind muscle connection.  Tell  yourself which muscles to activate and aggressively activate them in the lift.  The legs need to be pushing hard into the ground as you stand up in either a snatch or clean (or even a squat).  Really concentrate and focus on utilizing the leg muscles.  This will hopefully maximize the intensity of each and every repetition.
1a.  Focus intensely on technique.  Arms are loose.  Elbows are fast.  Transition quickly between standing up and then getting under the weight.
EXPLODE from the ground like a rocket and land like a butterfly.
2.  Along the same line of thinking, make sure that your weightlifting starts with your feet.  Is your weight balanced over the entire foot?  Are you applying force over the entire foot?  Big toe, pinky toe, and heel.
3.  Concentrate on a longer eccentric (i.e. lowering) portion of the repetition.  This would especially be true of pulls, jerks, push press, squat, dead lift, etc.  You may have to take some weight off to allow for the longer lowering.
Do these things for a few sessions or weeks and I think that good things will start to happen.
Coupled with the perceived lack of progress with the barbell, there may be conflict in the area of diet and bodyweight.  The best thing to get you moving in the direction you want to move is to write down everything you eat (every single morsel of food) and drink (every drop of liquid) for 10 days.  You have to do this without judgment.  If you eat a Snickers bar and wash it down with a Coke, do not admonish yourself.  Just write it down.
After the 10 days period, can sit down and analyze your dietary habits.  From there a plan with respect to quality and quantity can be generated.
Good luck!
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What Exactly Am I Doing This For?

Here you are. toiling away at our gym and you have maybe a plate or two on the end of the barbell and you think to yourself, “This is great progress!”  Then you examine social media from IG to FB and everything in between.  Suddenly, you are thinking to yourself, “You lazy, weak sack of shit.  A 13 years old girl in China is out lifting you and some 84 years old grandfather just smashed your best squat.”  You post your progress to said social media and even your mother doesn’t give you a like.  C’mon, right?
In our society, that is merit based, you have so many choices and so much information and so much of everything that you are burdened by a constant fear of being inadequate.  You know the drill:  the need for better grades, a more attractive mate, a more attractive body,  the need for cooler hobbies, more friends, more money, etc.  That is one heavy burden when all you want to do is squat with a couple of plates on the bar!  Or snatch your age and never mind your body weight.
These are big challenges to keep your own progress in mind.  Take pleasure in how far you have come.  Remind yourself that a few weeks or months ago you were not lifting the weights you are today and not moving as well as you do now.  These are simple things and oh so important to keep telling yourself.  You are going to lose every time if you compare yourself to someone else because you can always find someone bigger, stronger, faster, richer, smarter, etc. than you.  And making assumptions about where you “should be” at a particular point are not very helpful either.
If you have been something for x amount of time and you are at Z position, what’s bad about that for you?  No need to “should” all over yourself.  If you are starting out in the sport of weightlifting, I consider you a toddler.  It’s gonna take a while until you get to the steady walking stage.  The fact that you are a growed-ass adult is irrelevant.  Five or 6 or 7 years from now, you will be further along the road.  The most experienced lifters in our club didn’t start out where they are now when they each walked into the gym 10+ years ago.  It takes time to get to that inflection point and everything comes together.   It is a great feeling when it does happen and it will.  In the meantime, make sure to take pleasure in the simple and mundane things of “Tight.  Close.  Finish.  Feet flat on the floor as long as possible.”
Before Nick Mangold went to Ohio State on a full scholarship and then got plucked from college to play for the New York Jets and got a huge signing bonus, his mother said that it took him until he was a junior in high school before he was coordinated enough and athletic enough to do what was required of him as a football player.  Mind you, he was 17 at the time.  He had been playing football for 10 years.
“You know what I’m saying,” the Platform said.
Ready.  Steady.  Go.
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Six Most Important Lifts of Your Life

Or, what is going to happen at your first or next meet.

Soon, you will be facing the 6 most important lifts of your life.  These could be the last lifts you ever do or they could be the first of many competition and training lifts or they could mark a new stage in your lifting career.  No matter, the 6 lifts you do in the upcoming meet will be the 6 most important lifts of your life.
You need to have a good approach to these lifts.  No “…try…” or “…maybe…” or other shrugging it off.  You need to be confident in your training up to now, confident in your fitness up to now, confident in “tight, close, finish, feet flat”, and in your ability to hit lifts.  You are taking a trip to Parts Unknown.  Lift weights you may have never even lifted before.  Lift weights overhead that you couldn’t roll across the floor a few months ago.  The goal of a meet is to put more weight up overhead than you have ever done before and, because you may not get another chance at these 6 lifts, you put everything into them.  Spend time convincing yourself that you can do these lifts.
That doesn’t mean to run out there on to the platform like a maniac and do something crazy or whatever just because.  That means you go out there ready to give the weight a good ride.  Physically and mentally you are ready. Your coach and staff can only do so much.  They can only guide you to the edge of the platform, wish you good luck, and then the show is all yours.  You will feel victory and failure.  Perhaps even in the same lift.  Physically, your openers and your goal weights for the meet are all achievable or Coach would not have given them to you.
Channel Chemerkin who called for more weight loaded on to a barbell in a weightlifting competition than has ever been requested before or since.  Then go for it.  He was not thinking failure or “let me give it a try” as he chalked up.  He approached the bar and went for it with all he had.  Every lifter facing the 6 most important lifts of his or her life has to have the same approach; no compromise.
In case you forgot or didn’t know:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuiBO9FnFjY  Running up to the stage!
Rest physically and prepare mentally for these, the 6 most important lifts of your life.  Good luck to you!
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