If you have been competing for a while, you probably know the value of working with a good coach. An experienced powerlifting coach can help you in ways that no one else can.
The main reason for this is that doing competition legal power lifts at or near your maximum biological potential requires that you be able to mobilize every last ounce of strength you have in a given lift. Vanishingly few people are able to do this.
When you started lifting, gains were easy because you started out using a small percentage of your physical potential. As your lifts got heavier, progress slowed because you were getting closer and closer to your biological maximum. (That is, the most you could ever lift).
When powerlifters (or any athlete) reaches a certain level of performance, the value of an experienced coach increases dramatically. For example, when you played Little League baseball, any well-meaning parent could help you with elementary hitting and fielding. If you advanced to playing professional baseball, the advice of novice coaches became useless or counterproductive.
The same is true in powerlifting. Serious lifters can only realize the last 10-20% of their potential if they have a coach with deep knowledge of how to help someone reach their limits.
Why is this true?
One of the biggest reasons is that the great coach can see the smallest nuances in the way a lifter does a lift. Powerlifting is like platform diving in that execution of an attempt with flawless precision is mandatory if a lifter is going to realize their full potential.
Inexperienced coaches (or trainers) usually have no idea of how to instruct a lifter to achieve their maximum power output. The advice they give will generally be useless or have a negative impact.
Another compelling reason to seek out an experienced coach is that as a lifter gets more experience, the type of program they need becomes more unique to them. One size no longer fits all. Each lifter will have certain strengths and certain deficits. The experienced coach will be able to make a knowledgeable evaluation of what Lifter X need now, as well as next week, and next month.
While these are compelling reasons for having a top notch coach, many lifters will not be able to train at a location where a great coach is available. What can they do?
The first option is to arrange to train with a super coach once every few weeks or even once a month. If the lifter takes careful notes, and works diligently on following the coaches instructions, even this small amount of contact can be a huge help.
A second option is to have someone take videos of the three power lifts, and ask for a critique.
If you use video, be aware that you have to shoot the scenes from a location that will capture the necessary details. For example, video of a squat must be done exactly at the level of the lifters hips. If the cameraman is standing, it will be impossible to see whether the lifter reaches proper depth, and their first moves out of the “bottom”.
It is a good idea to shoot multiple videos of the same lift, with different weights on the bar, and with the camera at different positions. This will give the viewer (coach) multiple opportunities to see how the lifter is executing the movement.
I coach lifters using video. This means that they can be anywhere on earth, and I am able to “see” them lift on my laptop.
Another way to get good coaching is to train with a group of lifters who are really accomplished. Training with lifters who are better than you are will really help you improve.
Men and women who have been lifting competitively for a long time can be a coaching gold mine. Getting advice from veterans of many lifting contests can dramatically elevate your game.
If you want to find a coach, most lifting associations (eg. USA Powerlifting, AAU Powerlifting) have a directory of coaches in each state who have established themselves. This is a good place to start.
Bottom line: every lifter can benefit from getting advice from a good coach. They can be the difference between you reaching 80% of your potential, or getting close to 100%.
Lift big: Richard Schuller