An 18 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter, Powerlifter, and non-competitive Irish dancer. I'm determined to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.
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Wow so this is my first post of 2020 huh! Not exactly been feeling the most motivated to write a post this year, but now that i’ve got a lot of time on my hands, my blog post list is pretty extensive. I’ve been lifting significantly less during lockdown, but painting, teaching myself stuff, reading and getting back into riding my bike more. I’m not going to mention how many hours i’ve been playing video games for, but let’s just say that despite the lovely weather I am still as pale as I was pre-lockdown. I’ve been using zoom to teach some young kids some irish dancing steps, which has been nice, so I figured i’d attempt to use this platform to teach anybody some basic Sports psychology knowledge. I’ve enjoyed reading and making notes on this stuff for the past few months, so I hope you enjoy this read.
My coach originally introduced me to this theory and i wrote about it in another post. I probably don’t love it as much as him, but from what I've read recently there's a lot more to it than I wrote previously and he told me about.
Attribution can be defined as ‘How people (in this case athletes/coaches) justify successes and failures.’ Attributions can be placed into either of these categories:
- Stability (Permanent or unstable)
- Causality (Is the reason for attribution external or internal?)
- Control (Is the reason for attribution under your control or not?)
Then under those headers are the titles winning or losing, for example:
- Stable: I was better than my opponent
- Unstable: I got lucky
- Internal: I tried hard
- External: My opponent was easy to beat
- Under control: I trained really hard
- Not under control: He wasn't as strong as me
The reasons for losing are opposite of the reasons for winning. If you'd like to read more about the attribution theory, then please read the post below.
Attentional cues and focus types
I particularly enjoyed learning about this topic, so i'll go into more detail where I can.
Relevant attentional cues (these directly affect performance)
- Position of teammates
- Position of opposition
- Flight of ball/ Progression of the weight on the bar per attempt
Selective attention helps to focus on a specific relevant cue and block out irrelevant ones
Divided attention focuses on multiple relevant cues, to complete multi-tasking
Irrelevant cues (these distract from overall performance)
- Crowd noise
- Insults from opposition
There are four attentional focus types (Internal, External, Broad, Narrow), that come under the headers of direction dimension or width dimension, the meanings of these headers don't matter in this post.
- Internal: Attention is directed towards your own thoughts and feelings (E.g: Mentally rehearsing performance could help an athlete to relax before an event)
- External: Attention is directed towards a relevant external factor (E.g: Judging the flight of the ball or positioning of opponents)
- Broad: Taking in and interpreting lots of information to make decisions during play. This being important for a Centre in Netball, as they are constantly moving around the court and are often used as a connection between players who are limited in where they can play.
- Narrow: Only having 1-2 pieces of information to take in to be able to make your next 'play'. I feel that Weightlifting is a good example of this, I've seen many lifters (including myself) jump up only 1kg on their last lift and fail. My coach likes to describe this as 'the straw that broke the camel's back', it can be very much hit or miss in Weightlifting if you misjudge how close to a failed lift you may have been only prior to the weight increase or misjudge how well warm-ups are going.
The relationship between cohesion and performance
Cohesion can be defined as a dynamic reflected in the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in order to reach group goals and objectives, a sports team or club in this instance.
Cohesion impacts the performance in interactive teams rather than co-active teams.
Interactive teams: Team members will directly interact and coordinate with each other to achieve successful performance (E.g. Ball teams)
Co-active teams: No direct interaction during performance, but rather through individual events to achieve overall team success (E.g. Gymnastics team, School athletics competition or a Team weightlifting competition).
The cohesion-performance relationship is CIRCULAR okay? So if members of a netball team win regularly they may then get along better. This leads to them more likely being successful due to further improvements in performance. Then this continues to repeat.
So what helps to increase cohesion between a team? Well i'm going to tell you the team-member strategies. I'd tell you the coach strategies but my coach once told me to never educate your competitors, and in this sense, this means other coaches rather than team members!!
Team member strategies to improve cohesion
- Be responsible for your own activities (E.g. Loading your on barbell, timing yourself for athletics events, clearing up after yourself - certainly for my lifters anyways!)
- Resolve conflict quickly
- Try as hard as possible
- Get to know each other
- Help eachother through advice and motivation
Thanks for reading this post! I hope it provided somebody with something to do in these difficult times.
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Just a short blog post to keep track of this years progress (in relation to my past two blog posts in 2018 and 2017).
Olympic Weightlifting wise, my personal bests have not increased as much as I would've liked them to. However, I did hit my goal of Clean and Jerking my body weight (47kg) and I have since lifted this weight whilst only weighing 45kg. My snatch personal best has increased to 34kg and I am not far off 35kg. My Snatch technique was a bit wobbly at the start of the year as I could not get out of the bad habit of power snatching, that has now resolved itself.
This year I competed in my first Powerlifting competition (North West Juniors) and gained 6 North West records in the SubJunior -47kg Category. Later on in the year, I travelled 100 miles to compete in the British Junior Championships in Northumberland scoring myself 15 Records (2 British, 4 English and 9 North West records). I placed first and achieved a deadlift personal best of 100kg! My best lifts were: 60kg Squat, 35kg Benchpress and my 100kg Deadlift, making me a British -47kg Subjunior Champion. My personal bests for these lifts are: Squat- 63kg, Bench- 38kg, Deadlift- 100kg.
I completed my level 2 Weightlifting Coaching course this year, making me a fully qualified coach. I have enjoyed coaching and programming the OASIS Weightlifting Squad (OWLS), helping our young 6-7 year old lifters enjoy the sport and coaching the under 15's in competitions.
Irish dance wise, we have performed quite a bit this year and I can pick up steps much quickly than I could last year. We are starting a dance that has a focus on rhythm and has no music, we will perform this in 2020 (video will be posted on my Instagram).
Here are some targets I have set for myself:
Clean and Jerk: 49kg or more
Snatch: 35kg or more
Squat: 65kg or more
Benchpress: 40kg or more
Deadlift: 105kg or more
Coach within a British or English Youth competition
Gain my Weightlifting technical officials qualification
Enter more Powerlifting competitions and hopefully qualify for the British Juniors again
A decade summarized
The end of 2019 will be my official ending of a decade in the sport of Weightlifting, I came into the decade merely lifting a 15kg Women's bar, not being as technically sound as I am now and having no idea about the tactics of coaching. I had never really tired Powerlifting and I still did gymnastics! This sport has really helped me to grow and tackle anxieties throughout this decade. I cant wait to see where the next 10 years take me, as I am starting a degree in Physical Education next September. See you in the new year!
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I was scouring for blog post ideas this week (since I've finished one of my BTEC courses, so I have more time to write posts) and I found an old idea of mine hidden within the notes of my phone. I always find it historical and almost overwhelming that it was only in the year 2000 that Women were allowed to compete as Weightlifters within the Olympics. It sometimes shocks me that its not talked about very often and seems to be a topic that's brushed under the carpet in the sport. To think, if Women could've competed within the Olympics as Weightlifters before 2000 how many more successful Female Weightlifters could've made history! So within this post, I thought I'd highlight the inspiring female Weightlifting figures who were the first to compete in world championships, change history or win their categories.
Born in 1884, Catherine Brumbach (Katie Sandwina) was an Austrian born circus strong woman. Women Weightlifting was viewed as a circus or freak-show act during this time period. Reading about Catherine, her act involved many men and women attempting to beat her in a wrestling competition and some lifting events. One day, Catherine defeated a famous strongman as she lifted near to 300lbs over her head (the man only lifting the weight to his chest). Since beating this strongman, Catherine adopted the stage name 'Sandwina' as a female derivative for the strongman's last name.
Sandwina's act progressed and she eventually showed many individuals her talent of being able to lift her 75kg husband above her head (Not to mention this was completed with one arm!). She was also able to bend steel bars and pull the weight of four horses. Sadly, Catherine and her act of Katie Sandwina died of cancer in 1952. Her amazing start to the 'phenomena' of Women Weightlifting will always be historical. She set the standards for the maximum amount of weight that a Woman could lift above her head (130kg).
Dr Karyn Marshall
Four years after the death of Katie Sandwina, Karyn Marshall was born and ready to break the record that Katie had set, this was the kick-start to Women's Weightlifting. This record was broken when Karyn lifted 131kg and earned herself a place within the Guinness Sport Record Book. Competing as a 76kg+ and 82.5kg+ lifter, Karyn became the first Woman in history to officially Clean and Jerk more than 136kg, she lifted 137kg (303lbs). This is available to watch on Youtube when searching for 'Karyn Marshall'. Achieving 60 American Records and including 8 World Records, Karyn's achievements and lifting ability was clearly phenomenal! She was named the 'Worlds most powerful Female', and proud she should've felt to hold that title. Prior to this, Karyn had been competing against Men, before it was confirmed that a Women's National Weightlifting Competition would be formed. She had even been refused to be acknowledged at placing first, all because she was a Woman.
Karyn also gained silver medals within some International/ World competitions in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990. The 1987 World Champiosnhips only being a few weeks after the historically known Wall-Street Crash (impacting Karyn as a analyst and regular trader), she was working many extra hours but still gained a World Record Total of 220kg, winning the Women's World Championships. The 1989 Womens International championships being in Manchester (which is an hour away from where I reside) makes me wish I was born just two decades earlier! Viewing the results from that competition, it is clear that Karyn dominated the leader board, placing in the Clean and Jerk, Snatch and Total. This was also where Karyn achieved a world record 110kg Snatch and an outstanding total of 240kg.
People think women weightlifters are squat and muscle-bound, with all the intelligence of amoebas. - Dr Karyn Marshall
Although Karyn is well known as a Female Weightlifter who made history within the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame, I thought it was important to honor that Karyn was a first responder and volunteered as a chiropractor to help those involved in the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Learning about Karyn from writing this post has been very inspiring. She holds the title of Dr and works as a Chiropractor. In 2006, Karyn made a comeback at the age of 50 and achieved a National Total Record of 143kg. Placing 6th in World at the 2011 Cross fit Masters Games, Karyn now coaches Weightlifting and crossfit. She must be proud to not only say that she is a survivor of the gender-biased era surrounding Weightlifting, but that she is also a fighter and survivor of many years with Breast Cancer. Karyn's best ever lifts stand at 112.5kg Snatch, 137.5kg Clean and Jerk, and a 247.5kg Total. To read more about Karyn Marshall, visit her site below:
I think I project femininity and intelligence, which people may not think is possible. When people start looking at us as athletes and not oddities, we will be better off. - Dr Karyn Marshall
The next Woman I would like to introduce within this post is a remarkable lady named Judy Glenney. Born in 1949, Judy has had a successful career achieving titles as a National Weightlifting Champion and becoming an International Weightlifting Federation Referee and Women's Coach. I specifically wanted to mention Judy Glenney within this post since she lifted within the first official American National Women's meet. She began competing within the early 70's just for fun and not for any form of trophy or medal. She also officiated in the first Women's World Championships in 1987, followed by officiating the first feature of Women competing within the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Whilst competing herself gaining five Gold medals within World Masters Championships, a Gold medal in the World Masters Games and several Gold national Championship medals; Judy was also chairwoman for the United States Weightlifting Federation.
I had always been interested in testing my strength, but growing up that’s just something girls didn’t do. - Judy Glenney
I am sure that Judy was involved in bringing Women's Weightlifting into the Olympic Games and how thrilling it must've been when Women's Weightlifting officially became an Olympic sport! Judy's best Snatch lift was 82.5kg, her best Clean and Jerk lift was 97.5kg and her best Total was 172.5kg. Due to all of Judy's coaching, officiating and lifting; she was titled the 'Strongest Woman in History'. In 1989, Judy wrote a book entitled 'So you want to be a female Weightlifter'. This included adaptations to the Weightlifting technique due to a Woman's anatomy and physiology, if I ever find out how I can purchase a copy, it'll be an amazing Weightlifting book to review upon this site! More recently, Judy teaches Tennis, circuit training, weight training and many more physical activities. To read more about Judy Glenney, visit her site below:
Karnam was the first Indian Woman to compete within an Olympic games and the first Indian Woman to represent the sport of Weightlifting. I've mentioned the infamous Sydney 2000 Games quite a bit now, what a phenomenal competition that would've been to watch! Within this competition, Karnam received a Bronze medal in the 69kg category achieving a 240kg Total (110kg Snatch, 130kg Clean and Jerk). Karnam also achieved a World title in the 54kg Class, placing 2nd in '94 and winning in '95. She has gained an incredible 29 International Medals and 11 Gold Medals, Karnam is continuing to put her effort into the sport through creating an Indian foundation for Weightlifting, see her website below:
Dr Kulsoom Abdullah
Not only was Kulsoom Abdullah the first Female Weightlifter to represent Pakistan in the 2011 World Championships, but she was also the first Female Weightlifter to be allowed to compete wearing a full body outfit. Usually, Weightlifters are made to wear a singlet which reveals the arms and legs of an individual. After being denied the right to compete, Kulsoom changed history in 2011 when she was allowed to wear a unitard, which respected her religious views. Thankfully, the IWF modified the rules to allow for this to happen, meaning that more Women with religious views like Kulsoom's will now be allowed to compete whilst feeling comfortable in what they are wearing. She was also the first Female Weightlifter to wear a hijab within a competition, which must be inspiring to other Women and young girls who can also compete whilst up keeping their religious views. After all, the sport of Weightlifting should allow for anyone to compete and modifications should be made to ensure that everyone can experience the feeling of being strong. Kulsoom Abdullah is also a computer engineer with a PHD, giving her the title of Dr. She has a website entitled 'lifting covered' which is linked below.
In a contemplative world, we would think about how to come up with attire that would bring out the best in all competitors, regardless what their religious or personal level of modesty is. This is not a beauty contest, not a religious litmus test. - Dr Kulsoom Abdullah
I have known of Zoe Smith for the longest I can remember, my Grandad/Coach has always preached and praised her name throughout my life as a Weightlifter. She was the first English Woman to win a Commonwealth Games Weightlifting medal, this was in 2010 when she won a Bronze medal as a 58kg lifter. Zoe now holds four British Clean and Jerk records, her 121kg Clean and Jerk being achieved at the London 2012 Games. Zoe has also achieved two Bronze European Medals and one Bronze, Silver and Gold Commonwealth Games Medal, lifting as a 58kg and 63kg lifter. Zoe has always been an inspiration to me and I'm sure many other Weightlifters would say the same! As such a young, hard-working lady she has progressed so much within the sport (even after overcoming her Shoulder injury that I watched on the live stream). Zoe definitely has a bright future ahead of her!
I totally empathise with women when they say they find it quite intimidating. Until you find your stride, it is very intimidating. - Zoe Smith
Thank you for reading this blog post of mine, it has been very enjoyable to learn about the backgrounds and records that these strong and clever Women have achieved! Disclaimer: I do not hold the rights to the images and quotes upon this blog post, below is a list of references.
Katie Sandwina Image 1:
Karyn Marshall Lifting Image 1:
Karyn Marshall Block Quote 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karyn_Marshall
Karyn Marshall Image 2: Redbankgreen.com
Karyn Marshall Block Quote 2: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1989-07-29-sp-145-story.html
Judy Glenney Image 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bklemens/22416070949
Judy Glenney Block Quote:
Karnam Malleswari Image 1:
Kulsoom Abdullah Image 1:
Kulsoom Abdullah Block Quote:
Zoe Smith Image 1: https://www.martin-macdonald.com/testimonial/zoe-smith
Zoe Smith Block Quote: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/weightlifting/2019/05/14/olympic-weightlifter-zoe-smith-depression-confidence-still-intimidated/
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I completed my Level 2 Coaching course at my own club (Oasis Weightlifting Club) based in Ellesmere Port (North West of England). This took place over a period of two days which were spread out over a week (The 11th and the 18th of August). This week gave each of us time to form several session plans and a specific session plan that we would deliver to the rest of the group on the second day. This specific course, once completed allows for you to become an official Weightlifting coach. In order for you to be insured by British Weightlifting and to be allowed in the warm up room at a competition, you must then purchase a coaching license for £40. I was very lucky in that I didn't have to pay for my own course, I believe the initial price is £500 (there are discounts for British Weightlifting members).
If you are looking to complete your level 2 certificate in coaching Weightlifting, I suggest that you check out what British Weightlifting have to offer on their site (linked below). Note: In order to complete a Level 2 coaching certificate in Weightlifting you must already hold a UKCC Level 1 Award in Coaching Weightlifting or a BWLA Level 2 Award in Instructing Weight Training.
My preparation and experience after my level 1 award
I only had 7 months in between my Level 1 award and my Level 2 Certificate (most people have around a year), but I feel that I found my own methods of coaching over these months and learnt more about coaching from my own coaches experiences. I ensured that I included more fun games at the end of my clubs sessions, which really allowed the lifters to know that sport is meant to be fun as well as competitive. I tried and tested many different games, some which younger lifters preferred to older lifters. I feel that this enabled me to learn more about my lifters as people, this meaning that I could recognize when they were performing to their best or if they simply didn't enjoy a specific exercise. I didn't coach as much as I could've between January and August as I had various competitions I had to prepare for, so I focused more upon my personal training. However, I still felt prepared for the Level 2 certificate through reading some past course material from my coach and from the help of note-taking whilst completing the online-learning material. If you would like to read my level 1 coaching award review, please view the link below.
Online Learning: Review
From just reading the modules that were in the online learning section of the course, I assumed that I would struggle to comprehend and recall the information surrounding anatomy and nutrition. However, most of this content I had already covered within my Btec Sport Level 3 extended certificate. I definitely learnt more about other topics surrounding Weightlifting within the online learning material. I especially enjoyed the Level 2 module entitled 'Effective Communication'. This included subjects such as: Self reflection, Sports Psychology and Advanced coaching. I feel that this is the type of information and knowledge that may be neglected by a coach who doesn't have their Level 2 certificate yet. I was really pleased that this information was accessible from an Ipad as my laptop had recently broken and I was stressing out about how I was going to complete the online learning modules.
Similarly to the Level 1 coaching award modules, there were grammatical mistakes within the e-learning content. This time, some of the information I found difficult to read and understand due to spelling errors. When I've eventually gotten through a long list of things I have to do (hence why this post is 2 months late), I might contact British Weightlifting to make them aware of this.
Contact with the course tutor
I had the same course tutor that I had for my Level 1 award, this made me feel somewhat less worried about completing my level 2 certificate. My course tutor has been brilliant and very helpful throughout both of these coaching courses and I cannot thank her enough for giving me honest feedback about my coaching and emailing me some guidance sheets surrounding programming sessions for youths. My level 2 coaching course included myself and initially four other males, I was a little worried that I might have felt uncomfortable with this. However, both the other participants and the course tutor all made me feel very included throughout the course.
Summary of the course: Day 1
The first day really progressed from the basics of the Level 1 course. I felt that even within the first few hours of the course, that we had all demonstrated our coaching abilities and backgrounds. I felt that within this course, I got to know the other participants better. Whether this was due to the experience I had developed over the 7 months, an increase in maturity, or whether this was due to the tasks within the course making us work better as partners and as a group. I particularly enjoyed the part of the course which allowed for us to partner up and coach each other. There was a slight spin to this which involved the lifter closing their eyes or the coach not being able to use verbal cues. I believe that this truly showed the coaching skills that are required to coach those who have a visual or hearing impairment.
We were familiarized with some common lift derivatives (which we were then able to demonstrate and coach), we were also able to coach the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk to each other. We were provided with a refresher involving warm ups and a cool downs. As a group, we were given the opportunity to improvise and create fun warm up games. A lot of the coaching practice upon the first day was to prepare us for our main assessment within the next week. The week break in between the two course days allowed for us to curate six progressive training programs (three for each Olympic lift), I also coached these sessions before and after the second day. Attached below is an example of one of my six sessions. Please note: This work is my own and if you intend to copy a 17 year old's hand-written program, then that is very low of you.
Summary of the course: Day 2
Before we were to coach our full session plan to the rest of the group, we were able to practice a part of our session (allowing for confidence to be built). In the morning we were also taught the basics of a back squat and a deadlift. Each session had to include a warm up, main session (with a focus upon one of the Olympic lifts), and a cool down. I really enjoyed coaching my session to the rest of the group and I enjoyed learning from the ways that the others coached.
The following information is the feedback that I received after delivering my session:
How did the course benefit me?
I'm not going to lie to you, when I got home after this course I was so stressed out and exhausted from the pressure I put on myself to do well that I just bursted into tears. So I can see why they limit the age to completing the course to a minimum of 17 years old. It's a lot of hard work for me to socialise for long periods of time when I'm not in the mood for it, so sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed. I am to blame since I decided to start learning the online learning material only 4 days prior to the course and that I tend to only remember the bad in every situation, until after a few weeks when I can fully evaluate my experience. This is just a personal issue of mine and in no way at all has anything to do with the course content or level. I left this blog post a bit late so that I had a clear conscious when writing it, otherwise I would just completely break down any form of positive vibes surrounding my own coaching.
The day after I finished the course (even whilst holding the mindset that I was the worst coach in the world), I decided to coach the youths in my club. This meant that I have had to train early or late and stay at the venue for an extra few hours. Since this day, I am proud to say that I have routinely kept this up. The youths that I coach are now very familiar with my expectations of them, how I set out their programs and sessions that I coach and where they are allowed to have choices involving rep ranges, weight (depending upon illness and how they feel on the day) and the games we play to cool down. I have learnt from my mistakes and I am rising above them. Now our club has six male youths who are all eager to lift and as much as they can sometimes be a pain in the bum, if they keep it up I am confident that my coaching and their abilities to lift are going to strive.
Thank you for reading my course review, somehow I've managed to write this in only 2 hours (record time!). Just thought I would add a point that it would be amazing if British Weightlifting would introduce some additional coaching courses relating into Weightlifting and impairments, learning difficulties and disabilities. I would 100% attend a course that meant as I coach I would become more familiar with how to reduce barriers to the sport and to make a sporting environment more comfortable for these individuals. Although I have coached individuals with hearing impairments and learning difficulties before, it would be great if British Weightlifting could shed some light upon the topic of coaching these individuals.
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This blog post is a review of the book entitled 'It's Not A Fecking Pull' written by Commonwealth Games Champion and British record holder, Michaela Breeze MBE. Although Michaela and I have not officially spoken, she presented a medal to me back in 2015 at the British Schools Championships at Oldbury Academy. I must admit, being only thirteen years old at the time, I had no idea who Michaela Breeze was! (Although I knew she must've been somebody important, as she was presenting the medals and my coach made a big deal out of it). A few years after that competition, I stumbled across Michaela's Instagram and I have since kept up with her posts and her insightful Weightlifting advice. I have been really excited to read and review this book, so I hope that you enjoy reading my review.
Cover and layout
The front cover of this book really stands out to me. Not only have we got the pop of colour from the Eleiko weights, but the lifting position Michaela is demonstrating is very relevant to the title of the book. This phase of the lift is demonstrating what a Weightlifter should do instead of the misconception of pulling with the arms or swinging the barbell out from the hips. It is really nice to see Michaela fully kitted-out on the cover, it suits the covers' exclamation alongside with the bold title. The blurb of this book is concise and shows that this book is mixture of her autobiographical accounts and her advice from over the past three decades of Weightlifting.
I particularly enjoyed the layout (and not just because my copy is signed). Before each part of the book, Michaela writes about her own stories as a Weightlifter which relates well into what is being discussed within the next chapter. Because of this, I actually believe I read the book quicker and absorbed more information since I was eager to understand how Michaela's story related into the advice she was giving. With some books, grammar errors slip through. There were some that I spotted within the book, but nothing that completely deferred me from understanding the point of the sentences. I am guessing there was a printing error involving page numbers from chapter 2 onwards, but this does not reflect the quality of the Weightlifting information in the book itself. Throughout the book, Michaela also refers back to other chapters. This is great if there are pages and chapters that the reader needs reminding about.
The price of this book being only £20 is astounding, from the amount that I have learnt from this book, I am impressed that this level and depth of knowledge into the sport of Weightlifting is not being sold for more! This book is by far worth every penny, whether you are a beginner to Weightlifting or an experienced coach.
If you are interested in purchasing this book, please click on the image to be directed to the Publishers website to purchase a copy.
Straight away Michaela gets to the point that technique is important, which again really shows the coaching principles she follows. I loved every bit of honesty portrayed within this introduction, even surrounding the risky topic of National Governing Bodies. Michaela's personality seems to shine in the idea that she is independent and that she has been through all ups and downs within Weightlifting. I mean, to be an incredible female Weightlifter during an era when Women weren't really viewed as 'socially acceptable to compete'; Michaela truly has lived through the sport even at its most adverse times. The opinions and morals that were presented within the introduction were later elaborated on within the chapters, I much prefer opinions mixed with facts over a book containing nothing but factual information.
"The technical and mental sides to the sport are often neglected." - Michaela Breeze
Part one: Getting started
The first part to Michaela's story explains Michaela's background within Weightlifting as a beginner and her progression into a Commonwealth games champion. It's personal, interesting and opinionated; I love it. This part also impacted an educational decision of mine. From my own personal perspective, I am currently writing my personal statement for University. I was 90% sure I wanted to pursue a course in Physical Education and Sport and 10% keen to pursue a course related to Health and Social Care. The reason I wasn't 100% sure about taking a degree in Physical Education was because I wanted to still be able progress within my Weightlifting out of the career and still include Coaching Weightlifting within my life. I found out that Michaela was a PE Teacher and that she learnt Weightlifting from her school PE teacher. I thought to myself that I've always wanted to teach Weightlifting within a school environment and how much Michaela progressed from teaching PE to coaching Weightlifting seminars, so here I am now: 100% sure I want to pursue a degree in Physical Education.
Chapter one and two included understandable terminology that isn't going to confuse a beginner nor be too basic for an experienced Weightlifter or coach. Scientific terminology within books is really not for me when it comes down to learning about the technical model and principles that a coach holds. I felt that the information within the book wasn't biased towards a particular audience; I was able to relate and understand concepts from my point of view as a Coach and a Weightlifter. Michaela discusses what works for her as a coach and doesn't just base her knowledge upon what has been assumed as factual for years within the sport. This book is definitely a refresher for the technically old-minded ones, that is what makes it stand out from other Weightlifting books. Shifting further into Chapter 2, I feel that the absence of using the word 'pull' within Michaela's technical model will be a step forwards for many lifters and coaches. I don't want to reveal too much about the technical model, but I must mention that I couldn't agree more that British Weightlifting should change the phrase of 'First and Second Pull' to an alternative term.
I related to chapter 3 quite a bit. I write my own training programs and sessions for the youths I coach. This chapter highlights how you can analyse your lifts. I actually watched back some of my old videos to spot the technical errors that Michaela mentioned; I would now know how to fix these errors if presented with them again or if one of my youth lifters developed a technical issue. I believe that these small adjustments will allow for me to make better gains in the future and will make the lifts within my program feel more challenging.
I felt that chapter 4 really expanded upon some of Michaela's Instagram videos (@MichaelaBreeze). For example, she showed an expansion of knowledge surrounding the topic of foam rolling, some of this which I'd also seen upon her Instagram. A lot of Weightlifting content and tips is online nowadays, so it's really nice to receive more content within a physical book. This also helps for those without access to social media to still read updated information surrounding Weightlifting. There were many descriptions of 'how to lift' within this chapter. I found this information easy to comprehend and I believe it is definitely possible for a coach to teach straight from this book or for a beginner to teach themselves. I learnt a lot from this chapter, including why lifters complete the exercise of 'pulls'. I also learnt insight upon how to coach crossfitters who are practicing Weightlifting movements; I have never coached a crossfitter before. A big thing within this chapter was all about Michaela showing her Weightlifting advice through her past lifting experiences. She highlighted areas surrounding injury prevention and plyometric training, although this didn't contain too much detail, just enough information was provided to keep me further intrigued in the topics.
Part two: Reaching the top
My story and chapter 5
This was probably my favourite chapter of them all. The 'my story' introduction to this chapter was amazing to read and really helps you to understand Michaela's perspective during her competitive days. I already knew she was a great coach, but her background story is rather inspirational. Her personal experiences definitely show her off as a coach. "This taught me that no one cares about you in sport unless you are achieving results", as sad as this may seem, this is still a principle that still stands today. Obviously from this experience, Michaela shows that she cares about her athletes and not just the athletes who are national and international competitors. This chapter features mental discussion and competition preparation, a lot of the information and tips I have never heard of before surrounding this. I'm definitely going to try the methods she mentioned about getting over mental blocks.
Chapter 6, 7 and 8
Chapter 6 contained programming information which wasn't tailored, but included just enough information to act as a guideline to any coach or beginner that wants to begin Weightlifting. Chapter 7 talked about what to eat post weigh-in, I've never really thought about reading up around the topic as I usually weigh-in easily so don't feel as if what I eat should be a huge focus. However, this chapter has completely changed my views surrounding the importance of food after a competition weigh-in. The topic of anti-doping is discussed within Chapter 8. This is a huge interest of mine and I'm glad the topic was written in a manner that people can see that doping should be stopped.
Part three: Coaching
My story and chapter 9
Michaela's competition stories are really exciting to read and I was kind of saddened that this was the last part to her story. From reading all of the inserts from her life, I can say that she has worked incredibly hard throughout her sporting career. It makes you realise that everything is achievable if you put the effort in. Michaela talks about the responsibility that a coach must have over their athlete and she is completely right! If the athlete is prepared and dedicated, then the coach should be too. Chapter 9 featured some interesting and different topics such as: parents, growth spurts, fun in training, warm-up room tactics and that some males are very weight focused rather than having the view that their technique will get the weight up there (this one is from personal experience!).
"The harder you work, the luckier you get" - Michaela Breeze
Thank you for reading this book review. I've learnt twenty new pieces of information from this book! All which I will apply either into my coaching, training or competing. This book has been amazing to read and has definitely changed my opinions and perspectives upon certain topics in Weightlifting; I would rate it 5/5. Thank you to Dan Kent who kindly asked if I would review Michaela's book. This was a very generous offer and I have very much enjoyed reviewing another book for Powerful Ideas Press.
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About two years ago, I wrote a blog post all about body confidence. The blog post is what I wanted it to be and all, but I felt as if it would be nicer to establish why we consciously and unconsciously body shame and the general impacts of this. I thought that some ties into some other great sites would be a method of empowerment through such a deep-subject post. Here is the link to that post if you would like to read it.
What is body shaming?
Body shaming can involved you as an individual looking at your own body in a negative way, through comparisons to others like your friends, role models, family members and celebrities. Body shaming can also involve you or a group of people having an negative opinion about another persons body. Body shaming can be presented as conscious or unconscious. For example:
Conscious body shaming: This involves the idea that shaming another persons body is noticeable, verbal and specifically targeted at an individual. This may appear as attempted humour, but can actually be classed as a form of bullying. For example, making negative comments about a persons weight loss or weight gain.
Unconscious body shaming: This involves the idea that we have thoughts about body shaming ourselves or others, but these are either suppressed or not verbally spoken. For example, walking past someone and thinking that they 'don't suit the revealing clothes they are wearing' or are 'showing too much skin'.
When does body shaming happen?
I felt that within this section I should highlight that body shaming happens everywhere. It doesn't matter what culture you are from, your gender, your economic status or your everyday environment. Particularly within this post, I am going to focus upon body shaming within the sports industry and a recent experience of mine involving body shaming.
Take a look at the Women's and Men's front covers of sports magazines. Here are some of the similarities and differences that I have noticed.
Women Magazine Observations
I have noticed that there are at least 4/12 of the sample of magazine covers for Women that show Women as 'long-term sportswomen' and not just 'women going to the gym as a new hobby'. These same images portrays them as a body type that isn't overly associated with being 'healthy' or shows them holding trophies achieved from their sport. Although this is a very small number, this I like! Those four images don't sexualise the nature of Women participating in sports for someone else's enjoyment. The following words were featured on the front of this small sample of the Women's Sports magazines.
Fat blasters, Look hot, Look 5 years younger, Sleek sexy arms, World-Class Butt, Slim-down secrets, Diets, Super Fun Salads!
Male Magazine Observations
Within the Male magazine sample, it only seems to show 4/11 men within normal fitness clothes that they would wear to the gym. I don't know of many men who would go to the gym or play their sport topless? but anyways. Again, it doesn't seem to show any body types other than 'muscular types'. Sorry but since when is someone wearing sunglasses and 'looking cool' associated with sports? It is quite possible that the male sportspeople on the front of these magazines are athletes (Michael Jordan and Conor Mcgregor), but using male actors could start to put pressure upon the ideas that even actors who just 'go to the gym' have the best bodies. Therefore, this starts to build up a reputation surrounding the idea that all men must have muscular or 'fit' bodies. There are only 2/11 covers within the sample that don't have unrealistic images of men who just 'go to the gym' or 'get all the women'. Meaning these images contained athletes without their bodies being the main focus of the shot for another persons enjoyment. The following words were featured on the front of this small sample of the Men's Sports magazines.
Hi-Def Abs, Strip away belly fat, Power foods for men, Big arms now, Look better instantly, Add 2" to your biceps, Get jacked, Hard abs, Build a beach body, Weigh less Eat More!
The impacts of body shaming
I figured I would observe the words surrounding the magazine covers and I can report back that at least nearly half of the Males sports magazines contained sexual references. Now, I know my target audience is pretty young for this site, but: wheres the need? Its a sports magazine and shouldn't broadcast and force such imagery surrounding the topic to both genders. Not mention that there is a lack in any form of 'young peoples sporting magazines and articles'. Do the people writing these covers even think about the low self-esteem issues it could project onto some Men. I think its pretty safe to say that both Male and Female sports magazines are just as sexualised as each other! Then, this causes those who may have different body types to the models on the cover to feel insecure.
I mean, if you are not happy with your body; then do something about it! But pressurised imagery and wording from a magazine should not force an individual to change how they look, if they like their body anyways. Can you imagine how a person may feel if their physical traits that they are perfectly comfortable with are being broadcasted as 'awful' and 'avoidable' throughout the media? I mean, no wonder we all tend to jump on the bandwagon of unconsciously body shaming ourselves and others!
How this should change?
There seems to be a specific 'look' when it comes to what 'body type' is on the front cover of a magazine. Thankfully, some magazines are starting to make a breakthrough with this. Making a difference should involve the usage of body types such as using people who are not models and who are comfortable in their body or those who have just tackled major long-term fitness goals of theirs. Groups of different genders, body types, ages and cultures should be broadcasted on sports magazines just as much as any other magazine or platform. Ideally, if I was going to design my own varieties of sporting magazine covers, they would contain:
Models: Young athletes, elderly athletes, athletes of all abilities, child athletes and talented people, female and male athletes who aren't half-naked on the cover together. The cover of a sporting magazine should look equal
Words: Empowering words about the individuals on the cover WITHOUT comparing them to the reader, phrases that suggest there is a choice revolving around a person's body type and fitness levels, phrases that are not sexualised or aimed towards gender stereotypes.
Why should this change?
Obviously the images on the covers of magazines are what helps to sell the magazine, therefore what has sold before will sell again. So if the cycle slowly starts to break, it may be possible that parents will buy their children positive and uplifting magazines featuring inspiring and talented people next to normal and regular sportspeople. I mean, body shaming is happening all around us! Social media is all around us!
It is not too often that I experience body shaming nowadays. I used to get slight hints towards it when I was younger. That I should be lucky that I'm so skinny, which wasn't a particular feature I desired within myself, which made me think when I was growing that I had to remain skinny. More recently, because I'm on the skinnier side of your average stocky ideal Olympic Weightlifter, I get some comments online and in person about my size. For example, 'Do you even lift' or 'Hey do you know which muscle you need to build stronger and bigger?' (No because I hadn't thought about that until you mentioned it). More recently, an adult actually asked me to flex my arms as they thought I looked 'too skinny to lift weights'. I so badly wanted to explain that Olympic Weightlifters don't have predominant biceps, I'm a small Woman so I'm not going to have massive amounts of muscle mass and that I don't take performing enhancing drugs. If there are people on PED's on the cover of magazines, then that makes everything so much worse. So is it that the media has projected these poor ideas onto us that even amateur sports players are being body shamed for not looking particularly athletic? It's not even just athletic people. If you're skinny, you should bulk up. If you're classed as overweight, you should cut down. It's becoming nasty and is effecting the younger minds of this day and age. This causes bullying and mental ill health. I mean obviously if you're in a critical health situation with your body size, then seek help by all means. If that is by fault of the media, then shame on them!
I found two interesting article links about this topic. Please have a read here, I backs up many of my points made. More recently I have bought a book called 'Goodnight stories for Rebel Girls' and there is another book called 'Goodnight stories for Rebel Boys' too. These are excellent books to inspire all. I recommend them entirely. Thank you for reading this post!
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I'm back with another post! Had this one written down for around a year now. In this post I am going to explain the standard structure of an Olympic Weightlifting competition, however some of these steps may alter based upon the level of the competition (E.g. There may be drug testing procedures or a competition such as the British Championships may be more strictly structured).
So you're looking for a competition to enter, it may be your first competition or the first one you have entered in a while. So you either enter a local friendly 'inter-club' or an 'open' competition, that won't allow you to set any records. Either that, or you enter a competition that is on British Weightlifting's website that usually requires a qualification total (depending upon the tier of the competition). Here is a link to enter these competitions, the tiers are explained on the website.
Asides from paying to enter the competition, well done: you actually showed up! Smaller competitions may ask for payment on the door or no payment at all. Larger competitions are often going to have a check in process where all lifters and coaches are registered and given an ID lanyard to wear throughout the day. Whereas, a smaller competition is more likely to check you're in attendance when you are weighed in.
It is likely that when you entered the competition online that you had to provide a body weight category. Hopefully, you provided a realistic and achievable weight-category as if you don't fit into the category, more than likely you will be asked to lift as a guest lifter. Being a guest lifter means that you cannot place within the competition and you cannot set any records or qualify for any future competitions through the total you tried to achieve in the competition. Don't worry if you don't weigh correctly in the category by a fraction of an amount (I'm talking around about 0.1kg), the weigh-in lasts for an hour which will give you time to reweigh in and lose or put on the weight. In this the lifter must also provide their first two opening weights for the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. The table I have made shows an example of what information will be on any projected screens before a lifter has lifted.
Eat up or observe
More than often, I'm in the first group on the platform because I'm either the youngest in an Under 23 years competition or the lightest as an under 49 kilogram lifter. The few times I have been in the last group on the platform are in mixed school-year and sixth form competitions.
There are pretty much two choices before you have to warm-up (depending on when you're lifting). The way I view it is you either eat up (since you need some fuel before lifting or you're starving from having to ensure you are in the correct weight category) or you observe (sit back, relax and watch the first few groups). I speak from experience when I say that you must bring lots of food to a Weightlifting competition. My first competition was a small development friendly comp and I'm pretty confident that I devoured an entire tin of Foxes biscuits before lifting... Not good, but from an 8 year old's perspective, I was pretty happy. Food is almost as essential as making sure you've got the correct gear to lift in. My go to list of food to take to a competition would be:
Top tip: Drink lots of water, but don't forget to wee. You might be just about to complete your last heavy lift in a tight singlet. Put them together and you've got yourself a bad scenario...
From my past experiences in competitions, people have entered the warm-up room 10 minutes before the last group has finished lifting. Nowadays, I'm confident that most competitions will follow a timed schedule for when each group should enter the warm-up room. It is best to have a coach or someone who is familiar with the stresses of being in the warm-up room. Hopefully, your competition will have many platforms but it is often that you will be sharing a platform anyways, increasing your likelihood of making new friends (or enemies if that's what you prefer...). Warm-up rooms (no matter the size) are going to be sweaty and cramped in certain areas (E.g. right next to the entrance to the main platform).
My coach has always given me the freedom to warm myself up in a variety of ways. Previously, I would foam roll or complete exercises that involve jogging, jumping or running and then get stuck straight into warming up on the bar. But more frequently, I have found methods that suit me better. Here is my structured warm-up for most of my workouts and competitions:
I'd like to keep this as short and simple as possible. It's lift off time! By now, your group should have been introduced to the audience. Everyone will receive six attempts (three attempts for the Snatch and three attempts for the Clean and Jerk). The lifter who is lifting the lowest amount of weight will lift first. Hopefully there will be somebody else lifting a similar weight to them, if not this lifter will continually be on the platform after themselves, but they will receive 2 minutes to recover.
I'll try and explain this a bit better. Lifter A is starting on 12kg and then aims to lift 13kg for their second lift. If Lifter B is lifting 13kg, then Lifter A will receive a better recovery since Lifter B will be on the platform before Lifter A's second attempt.
If a lift is failed, a lifter will receive another attempt (They can stick at the same weight they failed at or increase). If a lifter fails all three attempts within one of the lift types, they will be cancelled out of the competition and will not place. If a lift is failed, it is usually marked in red upon a spreadsheet and red lights will be shown visually by the referees. Again, if the lift is a good lift, this will show as a white light or a green marking on a spreadsheet.
I'd say that it is especially important within a large competition to keep track of when you are lifting. There have been times where I have been unable to hear my name being called (due to such a busy competition) and I have been timed out for not lifting on the platform within the timed minute.
Depending upon the competition type, technique points may be measured. For example, within a Youth or Development competition (School children under the age of 13). I have explained this more in depth within another blog post.
Its pretty common now that if the competition isn't large or isn't going to be running for more than 8 hours, that most lifters are made to wait and watch the other lifters before receiving their awards. This is nice since it shows a bit of sportsmanship involving everyone watching and clapping for each other. Otherwise, within larger competitions, the awards ceremony for each group is done straight after the group has finished lifting.
This is how your place in the competition is usually ranked:
Thank you for reading this post. I know I have written posts that are similar to this in the past, but I figured it would be nice to put all the information together.
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I'm back again! Yes I keep on having extended breaks which seem to contradict my post about balancing school and sport. I guess it also comes down to my initial motivation to actually sit down for a few hours to write a post. Within the past month and a bit, I have sat two A-level equivalent exams and competed in two Olympic Weightlifting competitions (Manchester club comp and the British u17, juniors and u23's). I just came back from my holiday last Wednesday, I went to Formentera (an island about an hour away from Ibiza) and took a needed week off from lifting. This giving me the chance to write myself a new 5-week program (6 weeks being too long, 4 weeks being too short), which aims to be repeated multiple times before my next Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting competition. Meaning, it's time to get strong. Before I took this week off, I'd been experiencing more failures than usual within my training and within the British competition. Please continue to read to hear about these experiences of mine and how you can actually distinguish a failure within any sport.
What is failure and what is attribution?
The Google definition of failure states 'lack of success' or 'the neglect or omission of expected or required action'. Relating this back into a sporting context, I would define failure as being 'unable to complete an action that is expected or needed in order to gain a personal advantage or benefit, due to a personal fault'. For example, if a Weightlifter was to go out onto the platform and their first Snatch lift was failed by the referees. It would be because of the fault they completed, e.g. they fell onto their knees at the bottom of the squat due to loss of balance and stability.
The Google definition of attribution states 'the action of regarding something as being caused by a person or thing'. Relating this back into a sporting context, I would define attribution as 'pushing the blame from yourself onto another aspect of what made you make the mistake or fault'. For example, if a Weightlifter was to go out onto a slightly uneven platform and their first Snatch lift was failed by the referees. It would be because of the fault they completed, e.g. they fell onto their knees at the bottom of the squat. But they may say 'the platform made me fail the lift'. It would be the same for any noise distractions in which the blame can be shifted from the lifter onto this. Attribution is not different from failure, it is a part of failure that involves shifting the blame of the fail onto something else.
Why do we fail?
Failure can be the cause of many personal characteristics. In this sense it may involve a person's technique, sporting characteristics (e.g. strength and power levels), fatigue, dietary intake, limits, habits, and psychological issues (the competition, how much the lift or point matters, how much weight you are lifting). This could also involve slight attribution, but the environment surrounding a lifter can have an impact upon their likelihood to fail, this relating into psychological issues. For example, a lively competition environment could make a person fail if they are quiet, anxious or used to a quieter environment in training. However, this same environment could boost a person to perform and compete better due to added pressure felt psychologically. This partially links into one of my previous posts about Nature vs Nurture, this is linked below.
Why is attribution used?
Attribution is often used by Weightlifters (and athletes) to put off the thought of a mistake they have made until later when it can be processed. This is usually encouraged and supported verbally by coaches, family and friends (unless of course you are really blunt and you straight up tell the person that it was their fault and NOT in fact anything else that caused the mistake). This is important so listen up! ATTRIBUTION IS A GOOD THING TO REMOVE PSYCHOLOGICAL BARRIERS TO PERFORMANCE. Imagine this: A Weightlifter fails there first lift due to 'someone's phone going off the second they jerked the barbell' not because 'they lack the strength and power to jerk the weight on this particular day'. What does telling the Weightlifter that it was the distraction do? It enables them to complete the second and third attempt with a fresher mindset and a clearer conscience. As the blame is shifted and it is no longer seen (in their eyes) as their fault. If the lifter then is able to get these next two lifts correctly, then nothing is lost, the lifter did not give up! In training however, if a lifter is using attribution as a way to make up excuses not to train, then it is better for the lifter to accept it as failure and to overcome these mistakes by working harder. Although, it may well and truly be that the platform is uneven or the weights on the bar are not loaded equally.
Have you actually experienced failure?
Have you ever been in a situation where you have felt like a failure? like you've let your coach or your team down? you've even let yourself down. Did you go back and assess the situation to see how you could improve? It is often until you've followed these five steps, that you don't realise that your brain thinks you've failed because you haven't lived up to your expectations, but that you actually haven't failed and that there are some positives to your performance. For example, you may feel awful because you failed your last two lift attempts (personal best attempts) but your placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd. You may feel awful if you placed 3rd, but out of 10 whole people! In training, you may not gain a personal best, but you may be closer to it in strength than you were a month a go!
Personal experiences: Attribution
I must admit, I am a victim of attribution and failure. But mainly I have had many offences involving attribution. If you ask my coach (who initially told me what attribution was), he would say that when I've stopped shouting, screaming, crying and even swearing over a failure, that I'll then use attribution. The difference between myself using attribution a few years ago to now is that it would stop me from training, but now I laugh it off as a 'Haha I'm blaming the air temperature for my poor squat attempt'. For example, some of my recurring instances to blame attribution on have been: air temperature, clothing not fitting right, uneven platform, coach putting me off, noises, no noises, lighting too bright, lack of chalk, hair in face.
Personal experiences: Failure
Now moving onto failures, I feel that it's good for me to assess these online, it feels like such a mental cleanse and shows that I don't have to be perceived as any sort of perfect standard Weightlifter. I always have dealt with many failures of personal best attempts and near maximal lifts within my training, but it was very rare until a few years ago that I'd fail a competition lift. More recently in my training, I would get so fatigued (don't worry, my program has now changed) that I couldn't jump to get under my Snatch. So then, I would either get underneath it and drop it, or only be able to pull it up to stomach height. In training, I'm not going to lie about this, but my world feels like it comes crashing down every time I fail. I completely go back to comparing myself to the standards I set for myself. Thankfully, it's not too often I compare myself to other lifters, since different factors (bodyweight, age, experience, genes, smarts) help me to deal with this mindset when it does creep back up on me. But I don't want to be an Olympian, so I'm just here having fun until I'm old and can't tie my shoelaces.
My first failure in competition was only last year, I fell onto my knees. But I then jumped up more kilograms and gained a personal best. Before this, my only competition fail was when I was 12 and in the British and missed the call to my platform. Within the past year, I have gotten used to failing in a competition (not regularly, but when it happens I just shrug it off). A very cool Olympic Lifter once told me 'Sometimes it's good to fail and learn from your mistakes'. 5 years later, Nigel Richmond you were right! Although I did like keeping up my 9 year streak of no competition technical fails. In my most recent British competition, I failed my first ever Snatch (2nd lift) and my 2nd Clean and Jerk. But then I added more weight on and got the lift, because I'm pretty cool and I've got a habit of it now. It's asif failing reduces the psychological pressure of getting 6 out of 6 lifts. That same competition put me 3kg away from my personal best total, leaving me placing 9th out of 12th within the British rankings for my age and weight category (although some in the list are younger - not in the age category - and older than me). This still makes me feel great, considering this is a hobby of mine and is not a goal of mine to beat any form of British record at this moment in time.
Thank you for reading this post, it has taken me more than just a few hours to write. More like 5 hours... But it's got to be one of my favourite posts that *cheesily* comes from the heart. I hope this has helped anyone out there who has felt like a failure at some point in their life.
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I was thinking for a bit what I wanted my next blog post to be about, and hundreds of concepts flew through my mind, but I eventually stuck to this one. Do people have the view that the only point in taking part in Sport and Physical Activity is to compete? Are people not trying sports they might be amazing at and gain personal benefits from just because they feel that they aren't good enough to compete or they'll look foolish being a beginner? I'm sure you've heard the saying 'Everyone starts from somewhere' and its true. Continue reading >
I've been in the position even when I've been Weightlifting for years that I feel as if there is no point in competing if I'm not good enough. It came to a point where I hadn't competed for a year and a half due to comparing my skills to others of a higher level. Thankfully, I got over this mental stumbling block and have began to compete more. But there is much more to sport than competing. It's not always necessary to compete (in individual sports that is), training using a certain sport to develop a skill can be just as beneficial to provide you with personal competition between yourself. Even learning a new sport can help to develop skills in old ones! I have never competed within an Irish Dance Competition, but the skills I have developed from dance have helped me to excel within my Weightlifting. Such as better balance, flexibility and even managing my breathing. My coordination has also developed greatly through dance, helping me with other sports I have picked up in school. It is still enjoyable as a hobby without the need to compete.
Why do we have this mindset and how can we fix it?
My theory is: We have this mindset due to the pressure put on from the media and the UK education system. Okay maybe the education system isn't entirely to blame, but certainly from my experience you're either good at a sport and you are picked/forced to compete to represent your school or you are mediocre/awful and aren't forced to compete. The amount of times when I was developing my athletic skills and was nor amazing or awful, the amount of kids I would hear saying that they couldn't be bothered or didn't want to compete was crazy. Why? because its not fun anymore? because the pressure to win is too high? are they scared of losing? I always thought to myself how lucky they were that they had so many skills and didn't even want to compete. Just to clarify, I am sure there are many opportunities that schools provide in extracurricular clubs for beginners to try new sports, therefore not completely eliminating the idea of schools not encouraging participation outside of competitions.
We can fix this mindset through encouraging the fun aspect of sport on our youth of today. Do you want to try a new sport that you could be great at? Good! Don't want to compete? No problem! That's how it should be. If pressure is ultimately forced onto youths to do well in sport in order to be great at competing, then you lower the chances of those that are quiet and only want to do sport for fun, trying at all. For instance, I've always wanted to try Pole Vault, Kayaking and Calisthenics and I have never had the opportunity to do so! Nothing is stopping me at all from doing these things, except my current time restrictions due to my dedication towards other sports. Maybe in the future I will give them a try!
Personal benefits of trying a new sport
There are many personal benefits to trying a new sport:
Physical/ Emotional: Physically healthier, mental and cognitive improvement, muscle tone improved, stronger heart, particular fitness components improved (E.g: Balance, flexibility, aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, strength, power, reaction time, agility, speed and body composition)
Intellectual: Gain insight upon technique of the sport, gain knowledge in what your body can stand and can do, set targets to aim towards.
Social: Make new friends, compete (if desired).
Here is a link to bbc's site on lists of many sports you can become involved in, they also provide links of how to find your local club that hosts and coaches the sport. I hope you enjoyed reading this short post and I hope it inspired you to try a new sport.
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Recently, I have completed two courses that will help me professionally in future and when currently coaching youth Weightlifters. In this blog post, I thought I would explain the benefits of the courses, summarize what the courses are about and how you can take these courses. These courses are particularly useful for anyone wanting to work with children or are involved in coaching any sport. Please carry on reading if you are interested.
UKAD Accredited advisor course
I took this course online on the 28th of February and passed with 92%. This certificate lasts for 2 years and then requires renewal. This course is to essentially say that you as a coach or athlete will report any instances involving doping, will promote anti-doping and that you will advise athletes that they check the supplements and medication they take prior to competing. You can find the course online for free at the link I have provided. This course is affiliated with 1st4sport and it took myself approximately 6 hours over a period of 3 days to complete.
This course highlighted over the ways you should report any signs of doping, the history of doping, how many months/ years/ permanent exclusion from the sport that athletes can gain, what coaches can be reported for, a coaches role and what TUE's and ADRV's are and much more useful guidance surrounding anti-doping. This course gave me the knowledge on how to report and guide athletes under my supervision about anti-doping. The benefits of this course would be that you are professionally developed, support anti-doping and that your athletes will experience fair competition environments.
Child Protection course
I took this course on the 22nd of March at my local youth centre (where I coach) which was hosting the course. Again, this certificate lasts for 2 years before renewal. Since this course was ran by a member of the county council, I am unsure if the course costed anything. This course is to essentially address how you can protect and safeguard children and young people. The NSPCC are running courses that will be similar on their website, they are currently around £30. My course took 3 hours to complete, the ones upon the NSPCC website are said to take 3 hours also.
This course featured information involving spotting signs of abuse, the different types of abuse and how to handle situations involving incidents and abuse (social services). This course allowed for free-thought regarding what is classed as abuse (E.g. the predicament of whether smacking your child is physical abuse). The course covered aspects from physical, psychological and sexual abuse, which was eye-opening and did contain sensitive topics (E.g. Female Genital Mutilation). This course gave me the knowledge on how I would report and deal with any concerns regarding witnessed or suspected abuse. The benefits of this course is that you are professionally developed and you know that any athletes or young people you are working with are able to be completely protected at uttermost best when under your care.
Thank you for reading this blog post, I didn't want to make it very long as taking the courses will provide the most knowledge and I would hate for this post to be used instead of someone taking the appropriate course required.