Boris Urman, of Miriam, Kansas, has over 50 years of experience coaching weightlifting and athletic conditioning. Boris trained athletes for the USSR Olympic Team for 14 years. He moved to the United States 34 years ago, where he has trained numerous athletes in weightlifting. Boris’s athletes have medaled at the Pan American Games, Junior World Championships, Junior Olympics, Junior & School Age Nationals, and Collegiate Championships.
In this interview, Boris shares some of the secrets of his success, as well as why he loves training youth athletes.
Q: Why is weightlifting beneficial for young athletes:?
Weightlifting teaches kids discipline and helps improve their focus. It is especially beneficial for high energy kids. It gives them a good outlet for their energy and teaches respect for their coach and parents.
Q: What qualities do successful youth weightlifters possess?
A child must love weightlifting; otherwise, he will not succeed. Also, he must be willing to work hard. Everything else is teachable.
Q: What is the best background for a youth weightlifter?
Gymnastics. Definitely gymnastics. A parent can put their child into gymnastics classes around age 2 or 3. By age 6, they should be ready for weightlifting.
Q: Is it really necessary to start a child so young in weightlifting?
No. The beauty of weightlifting is that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. However, there is no reason why a child cannot lift weights. Historically, children have been allowed to do hard labor on farms at early ages. Weightlifting makes kids strong and useful.
Personally, I prefer teaching young athletes over adults. Children are more teachable, flexible and coordinated. They learn the technique faster.
Q: You have built numerous successful weightlifters from scratch. What is the key to building a good weightlifter?
A weightlifter is like a train. A coach must spend years laying the railroad tracks, constantly correcting any deviations from perfect technique. Much time is spent developing muscle memory before heavy weights are added. Once the tracks are laid and the technique is solid, a coach can add weight to the lifter and a powerful train explodes from the station.
Q: How often do your athletes compete?
I like my athletes to compete about once a month. Competitions are good for building confidence and composure. On months that my athletes don’t compete, though, I spend a lot of time on strength and conditioning.
Q: What advice do you have for other coaches of youth weightlifters?
Don’t be afraid to be direct with young athletes. Children need to know where they stand with you. Don’t tell them, “Good lift,” when the lift is not good. Be clear with your expectations, and your lifters will rise to meet them.