Power and Grace Performance Standard #2:
Back in 2018 when Jourdan Delacruz made her first senior world team, Team USA decided to do a training camp prior to the competition in Germany. I was unable to attend the training camp and had planned to catch up with the team in Turkmenistan. Jourdan and I decided it was a good idea for her to go to the training camp ahead of competition. This meant much of Jourdan’s final preparation would be completed in Germany without me. We arranged training so that this would be a good thing and set it up such that I was able to keep up remotely. Mike Gattone and Pyrros Dimas were at the camp to oversee training and both of them did a great job keeping me in the loop on how Jourdan was doing.
Our second key standard to the weightlifting team comes from that correspondence. I texted Pyrros and Mike one afternoon to find out how Jourdan was doing. Pyrros’ response was perfect. He said, “she’s boring coach. All of her lifts are the same.“ I smiled. Perfect.
I wrote a blog a couple weeks ago on our first key standard for our team. Make Lifts.
Our second key standard is “Be More Boring.” Succinctly, this standard is not a lot of things but is one specific idea. It’s not a suppression of your personality or suppression of an athlete’s self-expression. I don’t want robots. That is not what this standard is about. Further, it is also not about taking away camaraderie and energy and joy from the sport. The monotony and placidity of training for the sport can do that on its own I don’t need to add a standard
to encourage it.
This standard has less to do with personality and expression of excitement and more to do with lifestyle and approach to training.
Dr. Ramsey Nijem, The strength and conditioning director for the Sacramento Kings, recently stated on a podcast that his teams will excel at the boring work. We hear all the time in this sport to master the monotony and the mundane. I think for the elite athlete this involves two specific considerationss.
Firstly, a great athlete approaches every part of their training day in an attempt to make every lift look the same. From the first bar warmup to the final repetition, every good coach knows consistency is vastly important. We chase this prize at Power and Grace performance. We chase the prize of the compliment of our lifts looking boring. From 50 kg to 150 kg, my hope is that every lift, every time, looks exactly the same. We chase boring. Boring equals consistency, consistency equals reliability and reliability equals elite performances. A lifter who is boring for the technician to watch is the same lifter who will be exciting on competition day.
The second facet of this standard comes in our lifestyle choices. Let me reiterate, it is not a requirement to dumb down self-expression and dumb down joy to be a part of our team. In fact, those facets of one’s life are a requirement in order to succeed in the day to day doldrums of the sport. However, there are sacrifices to be made in our lifestyles If we want to be elite. Many of the luxuries and the privileges of the general population are precluded from the elite athlete. The elite athlete arranges vacations and food choices and sleep schedules and outside stressors around competition results. An innocent bystander can always tell the difference between an athlete chasing greatness and an athlete who’s just pretending, take a look at their life outside the gym. Great athletes sacrifice unnecessary and unhelpful privileges for the greater gain of competition advantage.
I had planned to write more on this facet of a weightlifters “boring“ life but I believe Alyssa Ritchey says it best. I heard her on a podcast this week and in her final thoughts she was asked if she had anything else to say to the listeners. She reiterated a conversation she had at a seminar in which an athlete asked her how they could get to be as good as her. I will leave you with her answer:
“Question: How Do I get to the level you are at?
“Do you have a job?
Do you go out on the weekends? Do you party? Do you have beer? Do you get drunk?
Gotta stop. Gotta stay home.
What time you go to bed?
Get to bed at 9pm
What time you get up?
Get up when your body is ready to get up
How much time do you spend recovering?
Spend your extra time doing that (not walking, hiking, playing)
It’s never glamorous. It’s actually pretty boring.
You have to sacrifice a lot to do this.
How do you get to elite?
You sacrifice everything.”
– Alyssa Ritchey
Be. More. Boring.