The Most Important Thing

What is the most important aspect of developing a youth weightlifter?  Coaches of elite youth weightlifters weigh-in on the most important part of the process:


Ray Jones, coach of Youth World Record Holder C.J. Cummings and 2019 Youth World Team member Dade Stanley

Keeping athletes healthy and injury free.  I want to see my youth athletes lift in the Masters division.  It is not about the moment.  I want weightlifting to be something my athletes can do as long as they want to do it.  


Dane Millercoach of Haley Reichardt (2016 Youth Worlds bronze medalist), Kate Wehr and Emma Esterbrook (youth national champions) 

Technique.  The absolute most important aspect is to not only teach technique for proper movement but teach athletes the value of technique, what to look for technique-wise in other lifters and how to feel technically sound positions!


Kevin Doherty, coach of Olympian Jenny Arthur and 2019 Youth World Team member Seth Tom

Recruitment! Being in a comprehensive school setting allows me to funnel massive amounts of humanity through a weightlifting curriculum.

Second, teaching progression!


Jimmy Duke, coach of 2018 youth Olympian Jerome Smith and youth national champions Antwan Kilbert and Destiny Snider

Be Flexible.  The most important thing I have learned from coaching is that no two kids are the same.  Kids learn differently, move differently, have different mobilities and have different levels of athleticism or athletic experience.  So when it comes to putting concepts in an athlete’s head, especially a young athlete, you have to be ready to change plans.  You have to be flexible in your coaching method and verbal cues if you want to be an effective coach.


Ben Hwa, coach of 2019 Youth World Team member Seth Tom and co-coach of Hassle Free Barbell

Compete early and often. I think it sets a good precedence for kids to be unafraid to put themselves out there and show the progress they’ve made. It’s something that keeps them accountable to train and a way to continually show validation throughout the process.



Tripp Morris, coach of 2018 Youth Pan American bronze medalist and 2019 Youth World Team member, Hampton Morris
Patience.  As a coach, you have to have patience when developing a successful weightlifter.  Develop a long term plan and have patience to work that plan.


Opportunity. An athlete needs to have opportunity to develop into a successful weightlifter.  Athletes can have huge potential and a great work ethic, but without access or opportunity to work, then they will always be limited.
Photo Credit for all photos: Lifting.Life