A few days ago, shortly after I arrived back home after bringing home my first podium finish (Bronze, baby!), my coach Greg asked me to send him 5 things that I learned at the American Open 2016 (along with 5 goals that I have).
At first, the task made me feel like I was a high school kid writing up an end-of-class journal entry after reading a lengthy novel in English Class, but I thought it was cool that my own coach wanted to know what I felt AND wanted me to properly reflect IN WRITING what I had taken away from this experience.
There’s something magical about writing something down in text and words, by the way, as opposed to just “thinking about it” that makes it REAL.
Once you put pen to paper (or text to email), you begin to involve most of your senses (feel, sight, smell of the pen if you’re writing on paper, sound of what you’re writing, and sight of the words).
Anyways, I thought I would go ahead and share with you what I shared with Greg in almost the same words, since I believe we all have something to learn from every single meet that we do, no matter how big or small…
…so that we do not repeat the same mistakes again!!
5 Things I Learned at the American Open Weightlifting Championships in Orlando, FL this year!
1. Clean & Jerks MATTER. Like REALLY matter. Not just the snatch.
Just because you didn’t do well in the snatch (or on the contrary, do extremely well) doesn’t mean that’s how your overall performance will be. The clean & jerk lifts can make or break your end result. Stick it out until the end!
I have to clearly admit, my snatches didn’t go as planned. I have been chasing to match my PR of 74kg in the snatch for almost 2 years now, and I just can’t ever put 2+2 together (or 3/3 lifts actually) when it comes to snatches. That being said, I have managed to increase my opening attempt meet after meet (this time opening with 69kg, the highest I’ve ever opened at any meet!). I feel that my snatch technique has gotten more consistent in lifts that are around the 80-85% range, but I haven’t been able to translate that technique yet to something closer to my max. Those extra few kgs added onto the bar just change my perception of how heavy the weight feels from the floor and it throws off my timing.
However, just because I only made one snatch doesn’t mean it was the end! Lo and behold, I am a cleaner and a squatter by nature. The clean and jerks are what saved me and got me the bronze in the end! I didn’t really realize that or put it together until Greg literally told me in my face that the clean & jerks are my strength and that I wasn’t allowed to be upset about snatches until after everything was over.
Now, some of you might have really good snatch days, which is awesome! What a great way to start a meet. But, (in the opposite manner of mine), the clean and jerks CAN make or break your meet! For example, what if silver medalist Jordan Delacruz ended up missing her third clean & jerk and bombed out even after making the 2nd highest snatch of the evening?
You HAVE to train yourself to stick it out until the end!!
ON a side note: only after the meet I realized I maaaaaybe should have went for 101kg. What would I have had to lose, other than a lifetime PR attempt and a possible chance at the gold for C&J?
But, looking back I think it was important that we stuck to the game plan and attempted things that I knew I had done which gave me a lot of confidence, but now I’m in a position to attempt all-time PRs at a large competition rather than in my safe-zone in the gym.
2. Don’t just focus on the cues for the clean.
Coming up with a strategy for what to think about in the jerk is just as important, if not more, especially if you end up cleaning it after all.
My jerks were a little shaky and I’m fortunate to be able to have the capacity to hold onto them (doing a 3-second hold for all those snatches in the bottom for 14 weeks really helped, didn’t it?).
BUT, when I went up to every clean & jerk attempt, I was way too focused on cues on making my cleans (for example, getting my elbows through quick enough) that I completely forgot what I needed to think about with the jerk. I just took a breath in and went for it! This would have helped immensely in my 100kg attempt when I was literally matching a PR and needed every ounce of mental effort put in for the lift!
3. Focus on you and your own lifts and not what everyone else is doing.
There’s no need to bother with that external nervous competitive pressure.
In past competitions, whether national or local, I used to be so concerned with what everyone else was lifting that it took away from me focusing on just making the lifts I knew I could make.
This time around, I forced myself to ignore what others were doing or lifting and I stayed away from looking at the board and just waited for coach to point at me and the bar, and tell me when to take my next warm-up attempt.
I do need to get myself some of those giant noise-cancelling headphones though 🙂
4. Fit in bathroom breaks during C&J Warm Ups…because going after the snatch just isn’t enough.
Ok, this is a slightly embarrassing issue but definitely an issue that a lot of lifters (female mostly) face nonetheless…having a weak pelvic floor when it comes to squats!
Only in the last 18 months or so have I really noticed the inability to really hold my bladder in when attempting VERY heavy squats (front squat, back squat, or cleans). Now, imagine this paired with taking in tons of water to rehydrate after making weight only a couple hours before.
I’m still trying to figure out the reasoning behind why I have a weakened pelvic floor – you would think with all my squat strength and work in mobility that the area down there would at least be moderately strong? Sounds like I have some core work to dig into…
5. Stay Tight Through Your Back And Core!
Don’t you just love when you get a cue to think about that makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in how you lift? Greg noticed that I really needed to stay tight and snappy in my back & core through the turnover on the clean…and I’ll admit this was the most helpful thing to think about that literally allowed me to clean 100kg like a nobrainer.
Now the issue is, getting that same feel to translate to my snatches. If I can tackle my snatches in the same way as I can tackle my cleans, I think I’ll be onto something…
My first podium finish with the bronze medal! I also got silver in the clean & jerk as well. My apologies for potato-quality photo, I’ll have to teach my husband how to take attractive iPhone photos that aren’t horridly zoomed in to distortion.
…And now 5 goals that I have to hit between NOW and Nationals!
- Hit a 73kg+ snatch in Competition (My best is 72)
- Hit a 75kg+ snatch someday. Long awaited goal. Seriously, why haven’t I done this yet?
- 102kg Clean & Jerk. Not just 101. Give me 102. That’s like 225#. (sadly, it’ll be a little harder to calculate percentages for my lifts now. 100kg makes it so easy!)
- Total 172kg or Higher in Competition (especially at Nationals).
- Make 3/3 Snatches in Competition. I’ve actually done this before, but I want to do it at a national level meet for once.
I’ll be seeing y’all in Reno, NV for the American Open Series 1!