2013 Pan American Weightlifting Championships -Coaches Comments from Head Coach Joe Micela 48 & 53 kilo classes
Kelly Rexroad Williams Team USA’s 48 kilo Lifters
Unfortunately, I was not able to coach Kelly at this competition. USA Weightlifting did not book my ticket to arrive in time for her session. To my knowledge this has never happened where a Head Coach was not present for the lifting of one of the athletes. I questioned High Performance Director Peter Roselli on this one and he told me that it was not in the budget to fly me down there early that National Coach Zygmunt Smalcerz and himself would take care of it. She only made her openers.
Breanne Bassler Team USA’s 53 kilo Lifter
This is the first time I had worked with Breanne. She is a Tim Swords trained athlete, so that means, she is very strong and will come prepared to lift. I have known Tim for many years and have always respected him and the athletes he has been able to produce out of his garage in Houston, Texas. Breanne was coming off a solid performance at the University Nationals. However, her last major international competition was the Junior World Weightlifting Championships in Malaisa where she bombed out. After that meet she stepped away from the sport for a little while. I arrived late Monday night and Breanne was scheduled to lift Tuesday mid-day. Breanne and I just briefly saw each other before bedtime. I never saw her train in person until the day of the meet. As a Head Coach this is not ideal conditions for a successful performance. The Coach should be there early enough to see how the athlete does in training leading up to the competition. Our national federation should understand this otherwise we are jeopardizing the performances of our athletes. The day of the competition Breanne’s bodyweight was good 52.5 kilos. We left at 12:15 pm for a 1 pm Weigh In. The Venue from the Hotel was about 25-30 minutes away give or take traffic. Conditions in Margarita where hot and humid. The only place that had Air Conditioning was our Hotel Rooms. The Training Hall was a series of Tents set up in the Parking Lot of the Hotel. The parking lot was slanted so the bars would role off the platform if you weren’t careful. It through our athletes off but it is a situation that you have to deal with real quick because every other country had to deal with the same conditions. The Venue was in a Basketball Arena that was said to house their local Professional Basketball Team. The Venue reminded me of a smaller version of the venue from the 2003 Junior World Championships in Hermosillo, Mexico. A big domed arena with no AC. It did however have plenty of bottled water which was very important.
Breanne made weight very easily. We had a little of a wait before the start of her session because a 69 & 77 B Group Session was running late. This gave her more time to rest up. However, for some athletes the sense of anticipation can be too much and they worry and burn too much energy waiting around. I don’t believe we were in this situation with Breanne. This did push our start time back about one hour.
Warm Ups for the Snatch
Breanne warmed up without taking the bar. I am not a fan of this practice. I believe every athlete regardless of level needs to take the bar. It speeds up the warm up and establish a good technical groove. But I will not start changing what an athlete is accustom to at this stage of the game. In my opinion of Breanne as well as with all the athletes on the Team when it comes to the Snatch especially they haven’t been lifting that long where their technique is perfect and they can get away with it. We started her warm ups according to the game plane she suggested 35×2, 35×2, (She took her first 35 a little early because she was getting a little nervous from sitting so long. We then went 45×1, 50×1, 55×1 up to this point she was rushing the movement a little. She was just racing under the bar. It was not until 55 did it look solid from a timing stand point. 60 looked extremely well and I was confident she was getting into a good groove. On 65, her second to last warm up attempt, she over pulled it just a little and had to take a step back. No big deal in my opinion, I rather have my athletes over pull a wait then under pull a lift in the Snatch. 68 kilos was our last warm up lift. She cut it a little short, made the lift but you could see it bothered her a little. In my opinion she was trying to over correct from the 65 that was a little over pulled. She didn’t need to cut it short. We stuck with the Opener of 70 kilos. I was confident Breanne would make this lift easy. She and her Coach had ensured in me that she hits 70 kilos fairly regularly. She went out there and over pulled it. She pulled it like she was pulling 75 kilos. We regrouped and she repeated the weight she cut this one short similarly to the 68 in the warm up room but worse, No Lift. We had a little talk about blocking out the negative thoughts from Malaysia and only focusing on the positive. I told her of an expression I use with my athletes in my gym of having “Bar Dominance” and owning that barbell. I instilled in her only positive cues. She went out there and nailed her Third Attempt at 70 kilos to stay in the competition. She came off the platform crying and worrying that she let the Team down. She didn’t want to let anyone down. I told her you didn’t and only lift for herself and not the added pressure of Team Points. I told her to go to the bathroom and regroup. I meet her outside before we went into the Warm Up Room and told her to block out any and all negative thoughts. She must focus on “Dominating” the Bar. Breanne recently switched from Split Jerk to Push Jerk. She has modified it to a wide grip no foot movement. This is very, very difficult to do. It requires a tremendous degree of flexibility and upper back strength. She is built for this movement however she needs more upper back flexibility to be more successful in this movement. Hopefully, with specialized training she will be able to perfect this technique.
Warm Ups for the Clean & Jerk
45×2, 65×2, 65×2, 70×1, 75×1, 80×1, Open with 85 kilos. Breanne is very strong in the Clean. She has cleaned over 95 kilos and I believe it. She cleaned 85 like a feather, on the Jerk she hit her position but on the recover she tucked her hips a bit and the bar drifted behind and over her head. No Lift. We repeated. We talked about the proper correction and she went out there and made 85 on her Second Attempt. For the Third Attempt, I personally debated between 88 & 90 kilos. We stayed with 88 kilos because it would allow us to move up a couple of Team Points. She nailed it and came off the platform with a lot of emotions. She was very happy but very emotional it was a long session. Breanne totaled 158 kilos and finished in 8th place. She is very strong girl who needs more technical work and a lot of positive reenforcement . She is very talented and is she can put it all together be a top girl in her weight class for a long time.