Mom, I Need New Shoes! Shoe Buying Tips for Youth Weightlifters

Child: “Mom, I need new shoes.”

Mom: “I just bought you new shoes.”

Child: “Well, they don’t fit any more.”

Mom: “I can’t buy you shoes this minute. You’ll just have to make those shoes work.”

It is likely that EVERY child and parent in modern history has had this conversation.

As a parent, it is annoying that kids’ feet grow so quickly. As a child, it is equally annoying that you have to get new shoes just when your old ones start to feel comfortable.  Like it or not, larger feet—and new shoes—are a part of growing up.  Normally, getting new shoes is not a big problem. Plenty of stores sell shoes—you just go into a store that sells the shoes you want, find a pair that fits, and then negotiate with your parents, who always try to talk you into the “cheap” shoes.

When it comes to weightlifting shoes, however, the solution is not so easy!

Weightlifting shoes are not ordinary athletic shoes. They have a raised heel, a hard, flat sole and straps. These features allow a weightlifter get into a deeper squat by permitting a greater range of motion in the ankle. They also provide better stability in the foot when standing up heavy weights.

Selecting weightlifting shoes can be a frustrating process.

    • At $100 to $200 a pair, weightlifting shoes are expensive.
    • Sporting goods stores do not carry weightlifting shoes, so you cannot simply go into a store, try on shoes, and find the pair that suits you.
    • You are going to be spending a LOT of time training in these shoes, so you want to get some that are comfortable and suit your lifting needs.

 

Selecting YOUTH weightlifting shoes offers additional challenges—

    • Youth athletes’ feet are constantly growing, which means you will probably need a new pair of lifting shoes every six months to a year.
    • Most weightlifting shoes are built for adult weightlifters, so finding a size that fits a youth lifter can be a challenge.

 

For starters, consider whether you actually NEED new weightlifting shoes . . .

    • Do you lift competitively? If you lift weights to build strength or as conditioning for another sport—or simply for recreation, you may not need weightlifting shoes. Weightlifting shoes provide stability for the feet; this stability becomes particularly noticeable with heavy weights. However, general strength building does not require maxing out with heavy weights. It can be accomplished with submaximal weights and higher repetitions. At lower weights, the benefits of a weightlifting shoe may not be noticeable.
    • Can you buy some used shoes? Ask around your gym. You might find another lifter who is willing to sell you their perfectly good, barely used shoes. Since you’ll probably grow out of the shoes in another 6 months to a year, save your parents some money and accept the used shoes! If it grosses you out to wear someone else’s sweaty shoes, replace the insole. Shoe insoles can be purchased at any drugstore for $10 or less.

If you really DO need new shoes, consider these pointers:

    • Buy a little larger than you need. You want your weightlifting shoes to fit snugly. However, you don’t want to buy new shoes every three months. You can fix this problem by buying a shoe that is a little larger than you need and then adding an extra insole to make the shoe smaller. When your feet grow, take out the extra insole, and your shoe will still fit. We use this trick regularly to extend the wearability of weightlifting shoes.
    • Read reviews! When it comes to weightlifting shoes, one shoe does not suit everyone. Some shoes are wider/narrower; some shoes have a higher heel; some shoes have multiple straps versus a single strap. Fortunately, there are thousands of customer reviews on weightlifting shoes. Find the shoe you are considering on Amazon, and start reading what real customers have to say about it! Read and research until you are confident the shoe is right for you. Keep in mind, however, that most of these reviews are written by and for adult weightlifters, so the review may not be as helpful for you. In the future, I will write an article reviewing weightlifting shoes available to youth lifters. Stay tuned.
    • Shop around. There are only a handful of weightlifting shoe retailers on the market. Start by looking at the manufacturer’s website. For instance, if you are searching for some Nike Romeleo 3s, look at the pricing on nike.com. From there, search other websites, such as Amazon, Eastbay, and Rogue. You can generally find shoes on sale if you search diligently. However, you should always consult the seller’s return policy before buying. You don’t want to get stuck with shoes that arrive too small with no way to return or exchange them!

Don’t love the shoes you have?

 

If you find that you don’t love the weightlifting shoes you purchase, you can return them and get something else, or . . .

    • Remember that you will grow out of them soon! In the course of your weightlifting career, you will own many shoes. Don’t obsess about the perfect shoe.  If it’s not just right this time, you can always purchase a different pair the next time.  My son, Hutch, spent a year wearing second-hand Adidas Powerlift shoes that he didn’t love. However, they only cost me $20, and I told him that he could pick his next pair of shoes. It was a win-win situation. I got out easy on Hutch’s shoes one year, and he got to pick the ones he liked the next year.
    • Training matters more than shoes. Fancy weightlifting shoes are fun. However, they won’t compensate for time in the gym. You will never hear someone win a major weightlifting championship and give the credit to their shoes.

 

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German Youth Weightlifting Competitions: Rules and Scoring

This article contains the specifications for Germany’s youth weightlifting competitions, as seen in “Youth Weightlifting in Germany.” For the original source of the rules and technical charts in German, see here and here.

Youth weightlifting competitions in Germany have two parts: (1) weightlifting and (2) athletics.

WEIGHTLIFTING
Youth weightlifting competitions in Germany emphasize the correct execution of the lifts by including a technique evaluation score for youth up to age 14.   

A maximum of 10 points can be achieved for technique.

This chart breaks down the technical score: Technical Scoring for Weightlifting in Germany

Points are calculated using the following formula:

Snatch—
[(Amount of weight lifted in kg x 50) ÷ Bodyweight] + (Technique Score x 10)

Clean & Jerk—
[(Amount of weight lifted in kg x 50) ÷ Bodyweight] + (Technique Score x 10)

Weightlifting Score = Best Snatch  + Best Clean & Jerk 

Best Snatch/Clean & Jerk = Attempt with the Highest Point Value

ATHLETICS
German youth weightlifting competitions also include an athletic portion to promote the general athleticism of children. The athletic portion includes three events: Ball Throw, Triple Jump, and Star Sprints. Sometimes other events are substituted for these events (e.g. a 30-m sprint may replace the Star Sprints). However, these are the usual exercises tested at the competitions.  Athletics are tested up to age 16.

Athletics Score = Ball Throw Score + Triple Jump Score + Sprint Score

Ball Throw Rules:

  1. Each athlete gets 3 attempts.
  2. The athlete begins with his back facing the throwing field.
  3. The athlete must throw the ball over his head backward with both hands.
  4. A starting line is established at the edge of the throwing field.
  5. Athletes may jump from any point behind the starting line.
  6. Athletes may not jump backward over the starting line. If an athlete lands over the starting line, the attempt is invalidated.
  7. A measuring tape is attached to the side of the throwing field.
  8. The first ball impression is measured, i.e. the distance from where the ball first lands.
  9. The throw is measured in centimeters.
  10. Measurement can be taken in two ways:
    * Right Angle Measurement: Follow a straight line from the first ball impression to the measuring tape.
    * Center Point Measurement: Attach the measuring tape to the center of the starting line. Measure from this point to the first ball impression.

Ball Weight:
Boys Age 16: 5 kg
Boys Age 14-15: 4 kg
Boys Under 13: 3 kg
All Girls: 3 kg

Recommendation: Establish a safe zone around the jumping area, and do not allow spectators or other athletes into this area for safety reasons.

Ball Throw Score = Distance of Best Throw (cm) ÷ Bodyweight

Triple Jump Rules:

  1. Each athlete gets three attempts.
  2. The jump begins from a standing position, i.e. no running-starts.
  3. A starting line is established at one end of the jumping area. The jumping area is about 2 meters wide. A measuring tape is attached to the side of the jumping area.
  4. Athletes must jump from behind the starting line. Touching the starting line invalidates the attempt.
  5. Athletes may not touch the floor with their hands or any other body parts—other than the feet—between jumps.
  6. Athletes must execute three consecutive jumps without noticeable stops between the individual jumps.
  7. The feet must be parallel and touch the ground at the same time during the first and second jumps.
  8. Taking steps between the jumps is not allowed.
  9. Falling forward on completion of the final jump is allowed. Supporting with the hands is also allowed on the final jump, provided it does not change the position of the feet.
  10. The impression closest to the starting line (feet, buttocks, hands) is measured. So, if an athlete falls backward onto his hands after the last jump, the measurement spans from the starting line to the hand impression.
  11. Measurement is taken by following a straight line from impression closest to the starting line to a measuring tape on the side of the jumping area (Right Angle Measurement)

Recommendation: Establish a safe zone around the jumping area, and do not allow spectators or other athletes into this area for safety reasons.

Triple Jump Score = Distance of Best Jump (cm) x 0.2

Star Sprints:

  1. A sprint course is set up as follows:
    * One medicine ball (Ball 1) is positioned on the start line.
    * One medicine ball (Ball 3) is positioned in a straight line,10 meters from Ball 1.
    * Two medicine balls (Balls 2 and 4) are positioned 7 meters from the start line, and 2 meters from the direct line between Balls 1 and 3.
  2. An athlete begins either to the left or the right of Ball 1, with his hand on the ball and his feet behind the start line.
  3. At the command of “On Your Mark, Get Set, Go,” the athlete touches the balls in the following order: 1-2-1-3-1-4-1 or 1-4-1-3-1-2-1.
  4. The athlete’s hand must touch each ball.
  5. False starts are not allowed.
  6. The sprint is completed when the athlete touches Ball 1 for the final time.
  7. If Ball 1 is pushed out of position at any time, the athlete must return the ball to its original position before proceeding.
  8. Before each athlete begins, all balls should be aligned to their original positions.
  9. If an athlete trips or falls during the sprint, he may still complete the sprint.
  10. An attempt is invalid if an athlete does not touch all of the balls or does not otherwise complete the sprint.
  11. Up to 3 timekeepers may be used to record the time of the sprint. If multiple timekeepers are used, the middle time is used for scoring.
  12. Use of spikes or adhesive material on the shoes is not allowed.

Ball Sprint Score = 400 – (Sprint Time in Seconds x 20)

SCORING

An athlete receives two scores for the competition:

(1) A score for the weightlifting portion and

(2) A score for the athletic portion.

The athlete’s final score is the sum of the two scores.

Weightlifting Score = Best Snatch + Best Clean & Jerk

Athletics Score = Ball Throw Score + Triple Jump Score + Sprint Score

FINAL SCORE = WEIGHTLIFTING SCORE + ATHLETICS SCORE

 

 

The Gift of Coaching: An Interview with Dennis Espinosa

Coach Dennis Espinosa, of Salina, Kansas is a well-known name in U.S. weightlifting.  Espinosa has been a weightlifting coach for over 20 years, is an International Weightlifting Federation Category I Referee and has coached numerous athletes to the national and international levels.  In this interview, Espinosa talks about the benefits of youth weightlifting, the challenges of coaching and the transformation of the sport over the past 20 years.

Q: When did you first become involved in weightlifting?

A: My mother was a fan of weightlifting in the Olympic Games.  I remember watching the 1976 Games with her on TV and sharing her excitement for the sport.  There were no Olympic weightlifting opportunities available to me at the time, but I was very interested in the sport.  In my late teens, I got involved in powerlifting and bodybuilding.  I continued these sports when I opened my own gym in 1988.  In 1997, I turned my attention to Olympic weightlifting and became a sanctioned club with USA weightlifting.

Q: Tell me about your weightlifting program.

A: I currently coach 16 youth athletes in two separate programs.  My competitive program is called Reps and Sets Team Salina.  Right now, I train eight competitive weightlifters in this program.  I also run a strength and conditioning program through the Parks & Rec department.  The athletes in this program receive general strength training.  I use the strength and conditioning program as a feeder program for my competitive team.  It helps me identify athletes with the interest and talent to succeed in competitive weightlifting.  Also, involvement with the Parks and Rec department gives me a free place to train my competitive team!

Q: What does your typical training session look like?

A: I begin with Coaching Corner, where I gather all of my athletes together and give them an overview of what we will be doing that day.  Then, we perform a General Warm Up and a Specific Warm Up, which includes core and stability exercises as well as skill transfer drills. Finally, we proceed into the Olympic lifts.

Q: What benefits does weightlifting offer to youth?

A: Weightlifting requires a tremendous amount of discipline.  Kids who stick with the sport learn to organize themselves, become self-reliant, and control their minds and bodies.

Q: Why do you like working with youth athletes?

A: Training a new weightlifter is like unwrapping a gift.  You don’t know what talent a child holds until you begin working with him.  I enjoy training all types of weightlifters—high energy ones, quiet ones—it is always an adventure figuring out how to motivate and get the best out of each lifter.

Q: What is the hardest thing about being a coach?

A: When lifters leave.  A good coach invests himself in each of his athletes.  He learns their personalities, what motivates them, and how to develop them into the best versions of themselves.  When athletes leave—for whatever reason—it is heartbreaking.

Q: You’ve spent 20 years coaching Olympic weightlifting.  In this time, the sport has completely transformed.  To what do you attribute this?

A: Olympians always increase awareness and interest for a sport.  So, having weightlifters from the U.S. in the Olympic Games has brought more attention to the sport.  CrossFit has also had a huge influence by introducing athletes to the Olympic lifts.  In fact, CrossFit is probably the best thing that has happened to the sport of weightlifting!

Q: What is different about the sport of weightlifting now than when you started?

A: Young coaches are able to develop their athletes much more successfully now than when I started.  This has put the sport in a better position.  There are now more talented youth weightlifters than ever before in the U.S.

 

Q: Why is this?

A: USA Weightlifting’s coaching curriculum is better developed in recent days.  Coaches better understand how to motivate athletes, program, and deal with the mental aspects of coaching.  Also, information on weightlifting is more readily available and shared.

 

Q: What advice would you give to new weightlifting coaches?

A: Become a referee.  As a coach, it is absolutely essential to know the rules of the sport.  The information you gain in the referee courses will benefit your athletes and give you a better understanding of the sport.  Soon after becoming a weightlifting coach, I became a referee.  The information I gained in the referee courses has made me a better coach.

Also, compliment your lifters regularly.  Don’t tear them down; always build them up.

In the Shoes of an Olympian

Youth Weightlifting Abby Flickner Interview

Abby Flickner, of Shawnee Kansas is your typical 13-year old girl. She loves to read, play the trumpet, and train in weightlifting shoes given to her by Olympian Morghan King. Ok, Abby is not so typical. She has been weightlifting since she was six-years old, has her own athletic clothing line, and holds three Youth American Records. Here is a glimpse into her life . . .

Q: How did you get started in weightlifting?

A: My older brother had been weightlifting for a while, and I thought it would help me get stronger for gymnastics. Eventually, I gave up my other sports—gymnastics, softball, and volleyball to focus exclusively on weightlifting.

Q: What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

A: Weightlifting offers some good life lessons. If you don’t focus on your lift, it won’t be very good. Similarly, if you don’t focus on homework, you won’t get a good grade. And if you don’t focus on the task at hand, you won’t succeed.

Q: What does your training schedule look like?

A: I train two hours per day, six days a week with my coach, Boris Urman, at Bootcamp Fitness.

Q: What one or two things do you do in training that are particularly impactful?

A: Squats and lower back training! It’s easy to get a heavy barbell off the floor, but you have to have strong legs and a strong core to stand up with it.

Q: What do you carry around in your gym bag that has nothing to do with weightlifting?

A: Candy

Q: What is your diet like?

A: I try to eat as much as I can to move up a weight class. I eat lots of protein, fruit and veggies. I usually eat two suppers, one before gym and one after. I also like to eat candy!

Q: Who do you look up to in the sport?

A: Morghan King. She accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time, and she has been supportive of my lifting. She gave me the shoes I wear in training!

Q: What qualities does a great coach possess?

A: A great coach isn’t afraid to tell you what you’ve done wrong. Weight-lifting can be a dangerous sport if you don’t do it correctly.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

A: Don’t worry about what weight is on the bar . . . just lift it.

Q: Did you take this advice?

A: I try, but it’s hard not to think about the weight.

Q: When you are not weightlifting, how do you spend your free time?

A: I like to read, ride my bike and play the trumpet. I would also like to learn how to cook.

Q: When was the last time you were knocked down and how did you get back up?

A: Youth Nationals in 2016. It was the first time I had been beaten in three years. I’m still in the process of recovering, but I’ve made progress.

Q: What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

A: Anything you want to achieve requires hard work and a good mindset.

Q: Where does your strength come from?

A: Some of it comes naturally, but mostly it comes from training hard.