Sunday 3 April 2011

Seminar soliloquy

ECB had the pleasure of hosting a seminar with Glenn Pendlay and Jon North on Wednesday the 23rd of March. Due to time constraints (Glenn and Jon were only over for five and a half days really) we could only have a four hour seminar form 6-10pm. In the end, Glenn graciously agreed to extend to a little after half ten as everyone was so anxious to Snatch, we spent more time practicing the lift than anticipated.

There was a great mixture of people attending, ranging from strength and conditioning coaches, to Crossfit coaches, weightlifting athletes and coaches and also a few personal trainers. Most people had a good general grasp of the lifts, so Glenn took us through his basic progressions, using Jon North as an able demonstrator. Like any worthwhile teaching endevour, this proved to be a practical workshop so all the participants then went through the progressions themselves under Glenn and Jon's watchful eyes. Again, like any teacher or coach worth his/her salt, Glenn had the lifters coach each other so that they could get used to applying the coaching cues to another person; Glenn was also able to making cues to the people coaching, not just the athletes, and this as another small point that separates a good seminar from a great one.

Jon North then went up to a max single in the Snatch for two main reasons: firstly, so we could see the progressions in real time speed being performed by an elite athlete. Jon was actually going through the steps we had just learned, except he was Snatching over 150kg! Secondly, the participants were watching Glenn coach Jon and then asking Glenn questions about his methods while Jon rested. This was the Q&A part of the seminar really. Jon finished up with a meagre 155kg, barely missing 161, he did a few doubles with 130 and then 140kg and left it there. He was completely spent from all the flying and his legs were gone. Afterward, it was the participants' turn to Snatch and Snatch they did. Several people got significant pb's and made the most use of the intense atmosphere coupled with Glenn and Jon's coaching. The same format occurred with the Clean and Jerk. Jon went up to a Clean and Jerk with 170kg and then missed the Jerk with 180kg. Due to time constraints, we spent less time practicing the Clean and then went over the major coaching points for the Jerk.

All in all, the seminar was a great success and it proved to be a fantastic learning experience while also being a great laugh. The Edinburgh seminar was run along slightly different lines because we had far more time on our hands. Dr Eamonn Flanagan has agreed to write a seminar review of that experience, so I will leave it to him. Here are the three most important points I learned from having Glenn over:

1. Simple is beautiful: Glenn's teaching progressions go hand in hand with his programming, his man management of his lifters during training and competitions and also with his running of a seminar. He applies a shed load of common sense, boatloads of experience, practical application and a genuine appreciation for the intricacies for the art of coaching to his methods. He has a holistic approach towards the sport of weightlifting, and simply taking out one part means nothing unless you look at the overall scheme of things. As he pointed out in the last sentence of the last minute of the seminar in Edinburgh, "you must have an over-riding philosophy in how you coach." This philosophy carries through to his entire repertoire for getting people insanely strong for the sport of weightlifting. Simple is elegant and effective. I never though I would associate Glenn Pendlay with elegance, but there you go!

2. You must supplement your academic background with an understanding of how to work with people and how to best enable an individual to learn optimally to be an effective coach. Coaching is an art that has to be learned through making mistakes and having a honest love of the learning process. I feel very, very strongly about this and had many discussions with Glenn on this topic and it was interesting to hear his views.

3. You cannot separate strength and technique in the sport of weightlifting. A lot of people have very different opinions on this matter, but Glenn's point was that we all know people who have a massive deadlift or high pull, but cannot Clean anywhere close to the same weight. If one cannot apply their strength to a weightlifting movement, it is through a lack of technique, but also a lack of strength in applying their technique. Because weightlifting is such a neurally demanding sport and requires so much skill refinement, the separation of strength and technique is essentially redundant, as Glenn believes they cannot be separated. Squats and Pulls work general strength, but this general strength cannot be directly applied until the lifter learns how to apply it within the classical lifts themselves. Of course, we are talking about someone whose squat goes up ten or twenty kilos, not 100. It is for these reasons that Glenn values technical efficiency in his lifters and put so much into the lifts themselves and not the assistance lifts.

It will be interesting to hear your points on whether you agree or disagree with any of these ideas. Please leave a comment below and we might be able to get a constructive discussion going. As for my own training this week, it was a good one. I had a download week and trained on Wednesday, working up to a double in the Power Clean with 110 and a 3,4,3 with 137kg and 3,4,2 with 147kg in the Clean Pull. I then did some Front Squat doubles to finish. on Saturday, I Snatched up to 110 and Clean and Jerked 135kg and Front Squatted 155. They all felt reasonably comfortable and I will feel better for it next week. I am competing next Saturday in a small competition and I am really looking forward to it. I want to hit 120kg in the Snatch again to make it consistent and hit a heavier Clean and Jerk. This is essentially a warm up competition for the Seniors, so I will treat it as such.


glenn pendlay said...

I'd just like to say that I agree with the listed ideas...

Anonymous said...

Well done ECB.

Trevor Coen

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