Monday, February 24, 2014

Weightlifting as a team sport

The past few weeks I’ve been observing the interaction between our athletes during our weightlifting sessions. I watched how they load bars, figure out loads, how they watch each other lift…etc. Then it occurred to me that there is a huge difference between lifting together and lifting with other people around.

When lifting when other people are just around, I saw people
  • Go through the motions of a lift, rather than really engaging in it 
  •  Looking to hurry up and finish sets
  • More missed reps
  • Sluggish composure in between sets
  • Not as smiley

When lifting together set by set, I saw people
  • Challenge each other on loads, whether heavier or less weight(this one I really liked because they weren’t scared to tell each other to go lighter on weight to fix something technical)
  •  More focused and energized
  • More aggressive attempts
  •  Less time between lifts
  •   More smiles and laughing
You may step on the platform alone, but you can’t ignore the fact that there are people in your corner, people who sweat and bled with you, people who held your iphone to record your lift, and watch it with you 12 times to analyze it. Everything is a shared victory and everything is a shared loss. It’s not your glory alone in victory, and it’s not your burden to bear alone in defeat either.

The reason I wanted to write this piece isn’t to build a lovey dovey relationship with your teammates, but for the sake of truth. Truth is you will become better by training with individuals in a TEAM setting, rather than alone.  I’m sure there are athletes out there that will question this, and say, “I train alone all the time and I’m doing great!” well I bet you are but you’re not having as much fun as we are.  And if you were with a team, you probably would be doing much better. Another truth…if you don’t have a lovey dovey relationship with your teammates, you’re probably on the wrong team. Either fix it, or get out.  And even a more real truth…if you made the decision to think that you’re on the wrong team, then more than likely it’s because you have the wrong attitude. Sorry.  I only say that because I’ve had that wrong attitude where it was everyone else that was wrong and I was always right. I’m fixing it now and if you’re dealing with it, you should fix it too. 

“You will become a better athlete because you became a better teammate.”

Pay attention to each others’ movement, their composure, their mental as well as emotional strengths and weaknesses. If you see something that can be fixed, say it! If they take offense to it, they’re the asshole, not you.  If you’re a good teammate you’ll know how to say and receive constructive criticism in a way that’s supportive, and not offensive.  Do that for them and they will do it for you.

As a coach and athlete at our gym, I don’t get many sessions to train with other athletes. 3-4x a week I’m training solo and 1-2x a week training with a team. I’m sure a lot of you guys are like that too. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this. “I have to get my squats in” “I have to get my snatch session in” “I have to get my assistance work in” I’m sure everyone does this because they want to have some sort of victory, some sort of success.  Every coach and every teammate will tell you “visualize it! Visualize winning!” When I visualize winning, I see my friends and family cheering. To visualize victory without your team to support is a not a victory.  What good is victory when it’s done alone? How sad is defeat when you stand alone?

I love the people in our gym. I love the people I train with. We’re not the best (yet). We don’t have a bunch of medals and podium finishes. We don’t have any athletes with endorsement deals or sponsorships. We don’t have the prettiest of facility or equipment.  But we will have the prettiest of movement and we will have the best of attitudes, because we will drive each other to do so.  We will go eat AYCE Korean bbq and drink beer and call it fuel for our next training session. We make fun of each other and laugh and point, and encourage each other when it’s needed.  These are things pertaining to our gym, and I don’t really write, sit on it, proof read, rewrite, so on. I just kind of write it out as I talk so I’m sure I’m missing a million other ways gyms build up their team.  Don’t give a crap about the things that don’t help a team.

We do all this because success as an individual means success for the team.  And at TDA, we encourage team atmosphere. 

Strength through the barbell. Strength through the team.