How to Find a Good Weightlifting Coach
This guide looks at exactly how to find a good weightlifting coach based on experience, qualifications, location and training style.
Coaches experience and credentials
Location of coach
Attitude and personality of coach
Now, as a weightlifting coach myself it seems like the simple (and cheesy) answer to this question is to tell you to come and train with me in Leeds, West Yorkshire (which you 100% should of course!) More seriously though factors like location, experience level and personality type will all have a significant bearing on whom you pick as your coach.
Ultimately weightlifting is a fairly rare sport in the United Kingdom; there simply aren’t that many good clubs and coaches to pick from. If you live near a big city like London, Leeds or Manchester your chances are better, but if you live in a small town you might have to be ready to travel a few miles. The reality is that you might only have one coach within a ten mile radius of your home, in which case your decision is pretty easy. If you’re a bit more lucky, however, you might have a choice of half a dozen coaches across a ten mile radius.
The quick answer is just to pick the closest coach to your house, which has the advantage of convenience. If you’re generally very busy and need this convenience then it makes sense and fits into your lifestyle. If you’ve got a bit more time, though, you might want to look into each of the coaches in a bit more detail to see who you’d prefer to work with. It might just turn out that an extra few minutes of travel leads you to a coach much better suited to you.
Coach's Experience and Qualifications
Generally a coach with more qualifications and more experience is going to be a better coach, this isn’t always the case but most of the time it is. If you’ve got someone who’s coached for twenty years versus someone who’s coached for three years then chances are the one who’s coached for twenty years will have more experience and knowledge to offer you. Similarly, if you’ve got a coach with no qualifications versus a coach with multiple qualifications, then most of the time the qualified coach will have more knowledge to offer you. (Handy tip, British Weightlifting or BWL is the official qualification board for the UK)
But here’s the tricky bit…
As a lifter myself I’ve had great coaches who had zero qualifications. They simply had years and years of ‘in the trenches’ experience which they could pass on.
I’ve also had coaches with an amazing array of qualifications and lifting knowledge, but only a few years of practical experience.
What I’m saying is, experience is no guarantee of wisdom and qualifications are no guarantee of intelligence. You can have amazing coaches both with and without these things, so don’t discard the idea of working with a coach before you know more about them.
Realistically your best bet is to look for a coach with good qualifications AND enough practical experience
Attitude and Personality of Coach.
It’s important to remember that one coach will not be right for every single lifter. Using myself as an example, as a weightlifting coach I work best with hard-working, dedicated individuals who can be extremely self-motivated. I don’t chase my lifters up with reminders and I have high expectations. I want my time as a coach to be used A) coaching and B) Improving my coaching knowledge. That’s not to say we don’t have fun in club (we do love our jerk and snatch jokes!) but there’s an expectation that when you’re done joking you go and pick up some heavy weights. I’m using myself as an example because I have carefully crafted a very specific coaching style that I use both within my 1:1 and group coaching sessions. It is a style that some people absolutely love, but it is also a style that some people don’t like.
As a lifter you want to be looking for a coach with a style, personality and attitude that you works for you. If you need a coach to kick you up the ass, find that coach. If you prefer a coach to be more friendly, find that coach. Back when I was a beginner my first coach used to make chicken noises whenever one of us didn’t fully commit to dropping underneath the weight, but very soon we all got underneath the weight on every rep!
For me, the best coaches know how to read their lifters. A good coach should know when to push you and when you need to rest. A good coach should know when it’s time to chat and when it’s time to observe. A good coach should also know when to be strict and keep you accountable. If you can find a weightlifting coach that ticks all those boxes then you’ve found a winner.
So, you’ll be looking for a coach at an acceptable distance from your house. This coach should ideally have a combination of qualifications and experience. When you’ve picked a potential coach, you should also have a trial session to see if your personalities are a fit. When you’ve got these three elements in place, you should be on your way to a great coach-lifter relationship.
Keep getting stronger
And of course, you can always apply to train with me (Subtle AF right?) Just get yourself booked in for a coaching call and we'll chat about your training history, goals and see if you're a good fit.