From Playground to Platform: Perspectives on Olympic Lifting for Athletes with Elisabeth Oehler

Why You Should Always Check Your Supplements Are Third-Party Batch Tested: Siobhan Milner's Minis Total Performance with Siobhan Milner

Those of us who’ve tried Olympic lifting as a sport or as a supplement to our training know that it’s very technical. But did you know that the technique used can vary based on your body?

In today’s episode, I am speaking with Elisabeth Oehler of EO Performance. She is a weightlifting and strength & conditioning coach and consultant who helps organizations to evolve and develop their athletic development programs and improve strength & conditioning support. She also coaches elite athletes from different sports on a remote basis and works as the Head of Strength & Conditioning in a multi-sports academy in Saudi Arabia focusing on martial arts, handball, and athletics.

Today’s episode is split into two parts. In the beginning, we focus more on Olympic lifting technique and how that might be variable according to your body type, and also how you might be able to self-correct your Olympic lifting technique if you don’t have constant access to a coach. This will be really helpful for so you if you have been training for a while and want to either begin Olympic lifting as part of your strength program or if you’ve been working on Olympic lifting for a little while and wanna hear more about how some aspects of the technique might be a little bit variable.

In the second part of the podcast, Elisabeth and I particularly talk about Olympic weightlifting for children. We talk about why Elisabeth believes in teaching Olympic weightlifting to children, and how teaching Olympic lifts to children is different from teaching Olympic lifts to adults. And also what Elisabeth thinks is most important for parents and coaches to focus on to set up their children for better physical literacy later in life.

We discuss a myriad of topics in this episode but our main focus is on Olympic lifting for all ages. Elisabeth gives some amazing insights into the differences in training for adults and children and the importance of starting early if you want to pursue weightlifting as a sport versus a component of your strength and conditioning work to support your sport.

If you are already into Olympic lifting and want to improve, or if you’re a coach or parent who wants to start your children or youth athletes with lifting, then this episode is definitely for you.

What are your thoughts on today’s topic? Let me know over on IG or send me an email!

About Elisabeth Oehler:

Elisabeth Oehler is a weightlifting and strength & conditioning coach and consultant who helps organizations to evolve and develop their athletic development programs and improve strength & conditioning support. She also coaches elite athletes from different sports (e.g., weightlifting, rugby, athletics, and martial arts) on a remote basis.

Currently, Elisabeth works as the Head of Strength & Conditioning in a multi-sports academy in Saudi Arabia focusing on martial arts, handball, and athletics. Elisabeth studied Sports Science and holds an MSc in Sports Coaching from the University of Birmingham. She is pursuing a Professional Doctorate in Elite Sports Performance at Dublin City University. From 2017 through the end of 2020, she worked as a full-time coach for the German Weightlifting Federation, first as a manager of the youth department and later as head of talent identification and national coach.

She has experience in several high-performance environments including national teams and professional clubs. Elisabeth is a licensed weightlifting coach (DOSB A-Licence High Performance) and specialized Youth Coach by the German Olympic Sports Confederation and has further qualifications in strength & conditioning.

Featured on the show:

Connect with Elisabeth on her website

Follow Elisabeth on Instagram | Twitter

Important Links:

    • Stay up to date on the Total Performance podcast where you can join Siobhan Milner and guests as we explore the many aspects that come together to build our total performance.

    • Get the full show notes and transcript over on the episode page.

From Playground to Platform: Perspectives on Olympic Lifting for Athletes with Elisabeth Oehler

Siobhan Milner: Hey everyone. My guest today is Elisabeth Oehler. Elisabeth is a weightlifting and strength and conditioning coach, currently working as the head of strength and conditioning in a multi-sport academy in Saudi Arabia, focusing on martial arts, handball, and athletics. Elisabeth has a background in sport science and also holds an MSC in sports coaching from the University of Birmingham.

She’s currently pursuing her professional doctorate, an elite sports performance at Dublin City. One of the reasons I was really interested in speaking to Elisabeth today is because of her background in Olympic weightlifting from 2017 through the end of 2020, she worked as a full-time coach for the German weightlifting Federation.

First as a manager of the youth department, and later as head of talent identification and a national coach. Elisabeth has a wealth of knowledge regarding not only Olympic weightlifting but also long-term athlete development and coaching for children. So today’s episode is kind of split into two parts.

In the beginning, we’re talking a little bit more about Olympic lifting technique and how that might be variable according to your body type, and also how you might be able to self-correct your Olympic lifting technique if you don’t have constant access to a coach. So this is really helpful for some of you who have been training for a while and want to either begin Olympic lifting as part of your strengths program, or those of you who’ve been working on Olympic lifting for a little while and wanna hear more about how some aspects of the technique might be a little bit variable.

But in the second part of the podcast, Elisabeth and I particularly talk about Olympic weightlifting for children. We talk about why Elisabeth believes in teaching Olympic weightlifting to children, and how teaching Olympic lifts to children is different from teaching Olympic lifts to adults. And also what Elisabeth thinks is most important for parents and coaches to focus on to set up their children for better physical literacy later in life.

As usual, we cover a lot of topics, but I think you’re gonna enjoy it. Welcome, Elisabeth. How are you doing?

Elisabeth Oehler: Hi. Thanks for the invitation. I’m doing all right.

Siobhan Milner: I’m super excited that you’re joining. I’ve followed you on social media for a long time, so it’s really nice to actually be able to talk to you live.

Elisabeth Oehler: Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s quite nice to meet people finally, like even though we, as. Still on, on Zoom now, but it’s quite nice to follow people to meet up with people. Now, besides social media or Twitter, I’m mainly active on Twitter, so, uh, it’s, it’s very nice to do this podcast with you.

Siobhan Milner: The thing that I’m finding at the moment, actually was meeting people on Zoom, especially the last couple of years, is that I kind of forget that I’ve only met people virtually once I’ve seen someone’s face and have talked to them, and then when I might eventually meet them at a conference. Oh wait, we, we actually haven’t seen each other in real life before, and then it kind of clicks.

Elisabeth Oehler: No, no. I had to, I had the same, and I actually had, like, over through Covid, uh, I think a, a lot of us built, quite even built like friendships to people that you just met virtually and, and not really, not never, like really in person. That’s maybe one positive aspect of Covid.

Siobhan Milner: So I wanted to talk to you today about Olympic weightlifting in particular. So I’m curious as to what drew you to Olympic weightlifting in the beginning and how you got started in it.

Elisabeth Oehler: So, I’ve always been someone who was very invested in the Olympics. Even as a kid, I. Grew up watching, uh, watching the Olympics, even when I was still in, in, in elementary school. And I remember in 2000,  the Olympics in Sydney that I was sneaking out of because of the time difference between Germany to Sydney. I was sneaking out of my bed and watching every competition that I could, and 2000 was the first time women’s weightlifting was an.

Sport. So before that, it was only for men and 2000 was basically the first time women were able to compete in an Olympic creative thing. I remember watching and at that time, or in the year 2000, I was nine years old. I remember watching it and I thought that was so cool, but it was never really sport-like.

I, I really got, I got into as a kid, so, because, especially not as a girl, and there was nothing really happening for, for girls in that sport. I only found weightlifting. Then later, again, like when I started studying when I was 18, or 19, I tried to find something to do during the weightlifting club and I kind of got very obsessed with it.

Yeah. Then I competed, later on, at a national level, and then I became a coach. I started, I really like coaching the Olympic lifts. I’m, I’m a very, like, analytical person, I would say. I really like how simple, but how difficult Olympic weightlifting is. Yeah, that’s why, why, how I got into it, and why I like it.

Siobhan Milner: I’m curious because of your specific background in Olympic weightlifting, cuz I know you are, you’re working as a sports performance coach while you’re not just teaching weightlifting. In my own experience, when we’re going through S and C style courses really directed just for s and c coaches, the Olympic lifts sometimes even get taught slightly differently or have a slightly different focus than they would if you went to an actual Olympic lifting course.

So I’m wondering do you feel…you look at this as, kind of, an either-or, and both question. If you look at programming weightlifting differently to perhaps a traditional S and C coach would, and perhaps if you look at, uh, the technique elements differently.

Elisabeth Oehler: So I always say, uh, when, when people, or when people ask me like, how much influence my weightlifting or Olympic weightlifting background has on me being s and c coach, I would say, It’s actually two different coaching philosophies, or it’s even two different coaching identities, I would say, because when I was coaching or when I’m still, sometimes I still coach Olympic weightlifting.

I’m a sports coach. I’m not an SC coach at that moment, so I’m a sports coach so not my responsibility. The physical preparation of the athlete, like in an SS C or sports performance role. It’s like the performance or the physical as mainly the physical aspect. When I’m coaching weightlifting, I have the technical side.

I think that’s obvious. I have the physical side, but I’m also, I’m also responsible for the mental side. So  I’m more of a holistic coach, like I’m a sports coach. When I coach the Olympic lift, obviously from like a, from from all these different aspects, it is very different how I act as a weightlifting coach than how I act as a S S C coach.

When I program some Olympic lifts, I don’t even use all of them because, uh, weightlifting is an Olympic sport for a reason. When I program Olympic lifts for, for example, a rugby player or a football player in the US, we say soccer, then it’s obviously with a completely different intention than. Plan it obviously for a weightlifter, and even the technical aspect and, and the technical detail is much, much different.

So for example, when we are in Olympic weightlifting, we are looking for a max lift. So I’m way, way, way more focused on, on really this. The tiniest technical detail in order to get better in sports performance or in ssc. Very often I’m just chasing adaptations. Then I don’t, certain technical aspects that are very important, very important for a weightlifter are not that important.

For example, for a rugby player or football player or a sprinter, it’s way more detailed and way more focused, uh, in weightlifting, in sports, before or in SC education, it’s not really that helpful to go with technical models that we use in weightlifting and just applied in a sports performance setting.

As I said, it’s like the majority of technical models in weightlifting are for specific body types and we don’t have these body types in other sports, for example. The technical model that I learned at German weightlifting, for example, would never be applicable for basketball, such as short arms, or short legs.

 You don’t really have that in with football or basketball players. So these technical models and these things that I look for, um, in a weightlifter, they don’t really apply, are not really applicable in sports performance, but, There are a lot of principles that you can apply in, in sports performance, and I think if you wanna really teach the Olympic lifts properly, you should find like a hybrid course where someone who has worked as a weightlifting coach, but also as a coach who kind of, understands that how it’s applicable my experience with weightlifting.

Offering sports performance or, or Olympic lifts for sports performance coaches are not really that good because most of the time, they don’t understand sports performance. And I think it’s better to have someone who has done both and understands both.

Siobhan Milner: Yeah, it’s really interesting.

Actually, the basketball example, because I don’t, I don’t work with Basketballers, but I work with Dutch athletes and so many of them are so tall and so there is often a lot of things that we’ve gotta adjust just because of their height, but I’m, I’m curious then, one of the things that we sometimes see in the literature is about fixed components or these variable components of Olympic lifts.

So I wonder if, even for just one example if you, kind of describe what this means and maybe whether or not actually these fixed components are all that fixed. Is it, does it vary between body types? I, I’m curious about your thoughts on that.

Elisabeth Oehler: Yeah, so for example, I know that there are certain technical models.

For example, let, let’s take the snatch or the clean doesn’t really matter. Let’s take the snatch. So we stick with one. There are certain technical models and if you rather to Asia, but also they kind of teach it in the US as well. A bit like this, they have a starting position with lower hips and the shoulder over the bar.

I personally found that this is not really, not really suitable or doable for the majority of athletes that I have in other sports because of how long their legs are. So what I try to do is like, or what I changed. And what we have also changed, um, a bit at, in the German weightlifting technical model was, okay, we don’t wanna have the shoulder over the bar.

We will actually want to have it in front of the bar. And we start, we, we have a higher, we have the hips are in a higher position and the starting position. And very often I see that. Actually, very often when lifts are getting tore to other athletes, they say, ‘oh, you need to lower your hips or you need to pull more out’, whatever that means, like with your legs.

But I actually.  Actually think that most body types, uh, that we deal with in team sports or track and field or other sports, they are not able to have this deep hip position with the shoulder over the bar. So they rather shift a bit forward, have the shoulder in front of the bar, and then the hips a bit higher.

Some things that I think remain in the same are the bubble in the snatch. For example, I wanna have body contact in the upper third of the thigh. So I, that’s what I’m aiming for. So if you put three parts on your thigh in the upper third, this is where the bubble touches the body for the first time in the pool.

When I look at the clean, I always say it’s in the lower third. Off the thigh, then that’s, that’s something that, that’s quite optimal. And then triple extension remains the same. And then we have obviously where we have huge differences in the catching position because weightlifters obviously are able to catch in an extremely deep squat position.

A majority of other athletes are not able to do that. And this is why like this, the whole catching position is, is completely different between weightlifters and others. And also in combination with that, if you catch deeper, you don’t need to pull that high and you also don’t need to pull that much, actually.

So we are aiming for high V max as the weightlifters, but it’s not. As high as possible, when I’m looking at sports performance, I wanna have a high Vmax because I’m chasing an adaptation. When I look at, um, the weight of this, I wanna have an optimal or a good, uh, VMAX so that they can pull, um, that they can pull.

Under the bar, not, for example, if they’re pulled too much or too high and then they go into a deep squat position, and usually the bubble, uh, crashes down on them. I don’t want dabs, so I’m not looking for as highs or for a Vmax as high as possible. I’d rather look for an optimal one.

Siobhan Milner: One of the things I’m wondering, because the athletes that work with you and the athletes that have funding and are at certain levels in clubs, they usually have someone who’s working with them and, and has an eye on them during these sorts of Olympic lifts in their derivatives.

But of course, throughout sports, there are different levels of funding and different levels of resources. I wonder if you have any tips for athletes who might be working with Olympic lifts or their derivatives but might not have that same coaching resource all the time On ways that they can either self-correct or improve technique because I find that these are some of the lifts as well.

Certain people don’t feel comfortable working by themselves or, or would you just say, you know what, you really need to go and find a really good coach for this?

Elisabeth Oehler: So I, I think. obviously in the, if, if you’re a good mover. So this, this one thing, if you’re a good mover, it’s, and you, you have like a lot of body awareness and you are in, you, you don’t have mobility issues and you’re, you’re just a good year athletic.

I think you’re able to teach. Uh, the Olympic lifts to yourself, like on your own, and I think you can do, you can really, uh, achieve a lot by watching videos recording yourself and then comparing you to, to other. Um, there are great resources out there, English-speaking. For example, Greg Everett does a lot of free, or it has a lot of free, free content for weightlifting.

I think it’s possible to train on your own if you are a good athlete or if you’re g if you are athletic when you are not like this, or when you come from a sport or usually a team sport like football or, or basketball. Usually, you are athletic obviously, but uh, it’s something completely the Olympic lifts, like something completely different.

So for example, I found it was always very easy for gymnasts to learn the Olympic techniques. Super easy or, or figure skaters or very high, very, very high tech, technical sports. All these athletes always had no issue learning them. But with team sports, for example, um, I always found it super hard to teach them the Olympic lifts.

When you are. Rather on that side, then I would invest rather into a coach, at least in the beginning. And then there’s a lot of technology. It’s not particularly cheap, but I think in the long run it’s cheap. It’s at least cheaper than having a constant coach. I would invest in to a tracking device, for example, VMX Pro or there’s Output Sports as well.

Are there. I don’t wanna make any, uh, ads here. Um, but there are a lot of different sensors for our capturing video, capturing apps that you can use for yourself and to evaluate yourself and just find a way, maybe every now and then to discuss what you’ve done in your videos and, and your analysis with, with a coach.

I’ve actually, I’ve person. Done that a couple of times with athletes that worked on their own. So they had their own lifting program and also, uh, used the Vmax Pro for example, and recorded everything. And then every two to three months we did like an update call. And then we, uh, they booked an hour and we, we went through the videos and I said, okay, this is what we, in the next block, you can work on this and this and this technical aspect.

If you analyze it through this software that you have or if you analyze it with. Technology that you have then look for this and this and this aspect of the lift. So this is a cheaper, in my opinion, a cheaper version than, than um, going to a coach all the time. And I think if you are very disciplined and if you are, uh, able to do that in your setting, then that’s quite helpful.

Siobhan Milner: You’ve taught weightlifting to a variety of ages. And I know you’re also teaching other coaches how to teach weightlifting, especially to children as well. So when you’re teaching these lifts or their derivatives to younger versus older athletes, do you approach this differently, and I’m curious as well, especially if there are athletes that are coming to Olympic lifting in their derivatives later in life.

Are there certain things that you might shy away from or just different ways you might teach them, or would you focus on something else for them? If. Chasing adaptation.

Elisabeth Oehler: So, uh, I think I’m pretty outspoken, uh, about me preferring to teach the Olympic lifts before puberty or as early as possible. I usually have kids, or I usually teach the Olympic lifts to kids.

I think it’s also a bit, because of my background, I mean, I, I Olympic creative thing as a sport or if it, or it’s an Olympic sport where. Start pretty early if they wanna succeed in that sport. That’s not a sport that you just start at a later age, even though some people think they can still make it even though they just started at the age of 20.

But I don’t think that’s realistic. You look like internationally what level you need to have at a very early age. You have to start early and it’s, it, it is technically very, very difficult. And also building strength takes a long time. So, because of this and basically being in the sport, I prefer teaching it to young kids because they are, uh, they can learn it.

They learn it pretty quickly. There are many, many issues that you find at a later stage, like mobility or in gen, general physical literacy. If, for example, you have a kid that hasn’t moved for two or three years in a certain development, uh, stage, then you can really feel how, how that affected their physical literacy.

Something that I find particularly, uh, interesting now with Covid, because the kids that I get now,  they have a completely different set of motor skill levels than the kids that I used to have before covid. So I, I prefer teaching it to, at a, at a very young age. And also my teaching progressions are much different.

Something that, or, or some of the main differences is with youth athletes or young athletes. I spend a lot of time with, uh, positions and especially starting position, I teach the, uh, Olympic. Into, into a deep squat from the beginning. So for example, we never do a power. I I I’ve, I’ve never done a power snatch, power clean, or anything with a kid.

I teach them, like, I break down the clean into, into the different phases, and then I teach it from there. When I’m working with older, um, athletes. Then usually we do, which we usually, I skip, uh, they, they usually don’t, don’t clean or snatch into a, a, a deep squat. So I’d rather, we rather do a power position and also the whole teaching progression than changes.

Also, something that I found particularly interesting with the difference between older athletes and younger athletes is how kids can’t. They, they don’t really understand if you, if you have different exercises that you like, they, you progress. For example, your progress over a certain exercise, and teach them first a push press and then a push jerk, and then a split check.

Kids never. Stand the connection. I, I never found that kids understand the connection, so I’d rather say okay, from the beginning, we just teach them a split jerk. So I, I just leave this whole push press push jerk out because they don’t, they don’t understand the connection between that. The same with like a power clean for a kid is.

Something completely different than I clean into the deep squat. So I teach them a deep, uh, they clean into a deep squat from the beginning and don’t go that route over. Power, power clean. And then obviously I was very lucky. Um, and, and that’s something I thought about a lot in the last year, I would say in the last year.

I was always very lucky to have very talented kids. I don’t think I ever, I haven’t worked much with kids that had, for example, mobility problems or have a very low level of physical literacy. So usually when I taught Olympic lifts, I always had. Quite talented or quite skilled kids I would say so.

Which makes it a lot different than, um, with all the athletes and kids are, they’re usually, they don’t think over, they don’t overthink, they just go un When you tell them to go under, like to pull themselves under the bar, they just do it. They are not scared. So with older athletes you usually have that they are super scared with their arms and then they, then they do a press out and kids.

They just, um, always say like, they just pull themselves under it without, with, with no fear, which makes it a lot easier. And I, I never had this issue with being scared to go under a snatch or to pull yourself under a heavy snatch or something. So for me, with older athletes, it’s kind of difficult to understand why they feel that.

Siobhan Milner: Yeah. With kids, it’s like they’re not scared unless you tell them to be scared.

Elisabeth Oehler: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Like, like when I, I remember the first time we did like, uh, snap with the kids snatches from the hang, like there was not a single kid who, like, they, they look, they, they, they, they look at them and look at the demonstration.

Um, and then you just do it. Or they just imitate it and then they, they, they don’t think about it. And when you are with older athletes, they usually say, ‘oh, I don’t know, this is so heavy’. And then they, they overthinking it and then they usually have a press out or something else happens. And with kids they just, they just do it, which is, which is quite, uh, quite nice actually to work with, with such.

Siobhan Milner: One of the things that you mentioned is that you’re seeing kind of potentially a decline in physical literacy, but also maybe sometimes some of these older athletes coming to you aren’t necessarily physically literate. So is there something that you would recommend to coaches or parents to kind of focus on when these athletes are younger or, or different methods to improve?

Elisabeth Oehler: Probably what is most important. Um, and I, I know it’s, it, it always sounds like a mantra when I say that, but like, kids just need to play a lot and a lot in, in unstructured environments, but there’s nothing bad about structured environments. So I’m, I’m not like one of these people like, okay, we wanna do now a training session and we just let them figure out everything on their own.

Like they need, there can be some sort of structure. I. I think also from an organized sports perspective, we can’t do as much as we would like to, so we have to kind of introduce sports-specific skills at a certain age, even though we know and kind of know that their fundamental skills are not really that good or we have like deficits and other areas like strengths or feed or power.

Still have to kind of teach them already for specific skills. But I think, or the advice I would give to parents is let kids like play a lot outside, uh, even if it’s just inside and let them play a certain kind of, sports like I try to have a big diversity of sport.

I should, should experience a big diversity of sports, but it doesn’t have to be competitive. I think you can’t do much wrong if you let your kids go to one of the fighting sports. Usually something I fix. Experience in now Very, in a lot of different countries actually, and in general, wrestling or judo or even TaeKwonDo.

These coaches usually have a very, very well-balanced sports program, so, A lot of those, especially wrestling, I don’t know, I’ve, I’ve seen it now in four different countries or our wrestling programs, four different countries where sync coaches, they usually know they need a lot of different fundamental movement skills and they have to develop it, running, skipping, galloping, rolling, pulling, climbing, usually these kinds of sports, they cover a lot of fundamental movement skills much more than, for example, team sports.

But this is like, now just my really personal and subjective opinion. I think it’s quite helpful to be in a sport where there’s awareness for, first of all, fundamental movement skills. The importance of it is when you have a variety of it. Fundamental movement skills and where you have some sort of decision-making component as well.

The majority of team sports programs, unfortunately, focus on a certain, very limited number of, uh, fundamental movement skills, even in the early ages. So I, I, I don’t think, I’ve never, I’ve ever seen a, a youth football, like youth soccer program that did like rolling or climbing or these kinds of things.

And in middle sports, however, um, you, you, you quite often have that.

Siobhan Milner: Yeah, that’s actually really interesting, particularly about the kind of fighting sports. Yeah. I know nothing about wrestling, but I’m, I’m wondering because, you know, there are some sports where it’s like there is multiple avenues.

To have success in other sports where in general, it’s the same technique that gets you towards success. I wonder is wrestling a bit more freeform? Is that why they’re, they’re referencing a lot of these, these movements.

Elisabeth Oehler: So, and this is, again, this is just opinion and I have no study to back that up. That’s just my personal impression of working in youth sports.

I feel. When you are, when you look at the, um, especially at the team sports models that we have, like the youth sports models, so you can get quite successful in, in soccer like football when you play already at an early age when you play already systems and structures, when you really teach kids to do certain or when you do certain drills and, and when you really already prepare them tactically for the opponent, you always play the same.

And you always know exactly what, who, which kids there are, how they’re gonna play, who the coaches are. So there’s not really a lot of phases or there’s not really the demand or the need to improve creativity, improve decision making because you can be quite successful on youth level with like playing structures and.

You don’t particularly have that in the fighting sports because you, you, most of the time you have so many different, you have one, uh, opponent. Uh, everything is very unpredictable. You don’t really know how they are, what they do. Then in fighting sports, you need a lot of body awareness. You need a lot of coordination, and they kind of, I think a lot of those coaches have kind of figured out that you can only.

Uh, develop that by having a huge, huge variation in your training design on a youth level and not just teaching them techniques. And there will probably also be a lot of coaches in the fighting sports that just take teach techniques, but techniques themselves will not really make you. Win, uh, fights, but playing systems and structures in football will make you win, maybe leaked.

It’s something that I think in the individual sports is like, uh, um, a bit different. So they are, there’s a bigger need of teaching them a, a bigger variety, having more decision making components, et cetera. In the, in, in the, in the training design, what is quite, quite a good, uh, and this is like now a, um, an example from Germany and football, like soccer.

So they, they kind of figured out that a lot of in on youth level, um, um, especially with children that a lot of coaches play the same teams, uh, over several, throughout several age groups. And there’s not really much creative creativity in the way they play and the playing style is what changed, they changed the youth sports model for under tens and under, I think under 10.

Um, and, and I’m not quite sure if under 12 is still in it, but I’m a hundred percent sure it’s under 10 and below. They get away from leagues, so they would learn to play leagues anymore. and uh, if you are part of a football club and you wanna play games, you play short, small-sided games in like more like a festival or a weekend tournament, and all teams have to rotate.

So you’re not in your team, but you have to rotate between, rotate between other teams that are on on the festival as well. So basically what they’re trying to do is now while we send players to this festival and we give them different team teammates for every game they play. So the score doesn’t really count.

There will be no winner at the end, which is, which is fine, but they have to adapt every game. They play to different teammates basically. So we have a bigger league that requires the kids to make more decisions to adapt to these new environments. And you as a coach, you don’t get away with like teaching them.

Okay. Did we play this system now? So, which is, I think this is gonna improve team sports a bit. This is, uh, just, just an example of how to improve this, this decision-making component. And then also, I think coaches will always do what is, what are the game demands? Even in the younger age groups, a lot of coaches don’t really have that development mindset, but they really wanna win.

Little League that they play or with their local competition or whatever, if you change the competition format and then you, you basically force coaches to adapt to these different, uh, game demands. And now it’s not really helpful for an or at, at under 10 level. Now in football, it’s not really helpful for the under-10 coach to teach them any tactical stuff because the other kids will not know it.

So they, they’re really trying to have more bold touches and. Playing more freely, more, more creative. And because the new game format requires it. So this is quite, uh, quite something where we can improve in, in new sports. Yeah. And then it’s really play. Yeah. And that’s how kids should play. Um, I don’t think you need to teach, uh, uh, kids any tactics when they are like eight, nine years old.

let them get the, let them play with the ball, and figure things out themselves. Um, there’s still so much time where you can teach them tactics, so focus on skill development and decision-making and these age groups.

Siobhan Milner: Okay. Of course, there are always parents who, like some of these coaches just want the kids to win, but I feel like play is something, and the idea of overall physical development is something that a lot of parents can easily get behind.

Yeah. But one thing that I feel like some parents are still quite scared of is, Resistance training or weightlifting for younger athletes. And I wonder if there’s, I, I feel like this probably kind of has to be a sound bite in a way, , but is there something that you usually communicate to coaches or parents who are worried about that?

Elisabeth Oehler: I’ve actually, so I, I’m doing this now for five years full-time, and I’m at a point where I’m like, I’m, I’m almost annoyed of, of parents or other coaches that still, that still follow those old, uh, like these old views or these old opinions. We know that. And, and then I, I sometimes think like there are studies where they found like, or where they actually try to, to explain the benefits of resistance training for kids even before like 20 or 25 years ago.

Yeah, these issues, a lot of, uh, parents or other, even other sports coaches have been debunked like already 20 years ago. So it, it kind of, at some point it gets a bit annoying, but it’s my job as a, as a youth coach or someone who coaches, uh, a lot of different age groups, it’s kind of my job to educate parents even though it’s like saying the same old thing again.

I did a presentation for parents like two weeks ago and I was like, I can’t. Presentation in my sleep, I can, like, I can wake up at, at, at 3:00 AM in the morning, I will be able to do this presentation of our resistance training with kids for parents. I think I will, I always try to explain studies and findings to them, and I usually also try to explain a bit around what athletic development is.

I shy away a bit from the term strength training, even though I have a course that’s called Strength. But I shy away from saying that it’s a strength training, but rather like it’s athletic development. And I try to explain also a few things that happen developmentally when kids grow and mature.

So it was so, um, parents understand a bit better what is actually going on, because something that I figured out is a lot of par, a lot of pressure in sports from parents and a lot of like fears and, uh, or other, other, emotions simply arise because a lot of parents don’t really know how kids actually develop and grow and mature.

One of the biggest misconceptions is the growth plate or, or, or weight training stunting a child’s growth. So I usually ex. Explain what e what a growth plate even is, because the majority of people don’t really know what it is. And even if you ask some s and cs what, what, what the growth plate is and, and what it actually does and, and what a growth plate fracture is, because growth, growth pair fractures happen.

Actually, they happen and they happen quite. Quite, not quite often, but they happen. And even a growth plate fracture doesn’t mean that the kid is not gonna grow. I, I, I try to explain those developmental changes. The same with something that I think is important. Where we need to do a lot more education for parents is, is around, okay, what effects actually puberty, what effects that has on physical quality.

And, and even sports coaches, I don’t like, even sports coaches don’t, don’t really know a lot. It’s always, for me, it’s always an interesting, um, to see, or, or I, I’ve often got asked, oh, can we please do testing with the under 14? Um, or I’m the 15, so basically with under fourteens you have like 13-year-olds, 14 -year-olds, and then they wanna do speed testing.

And I was like, do you know that in this age group or, and, and when they’re 13, 14, like they’re, they’re most likely, a lot of them will be around just before around, uh, peak high velocity. So if you do speed testing now, and you do it probably in two weeks, Again, you will have such a, you have such a variance, uh, or such differences between, between the numbers.

What ha like are you aware of that? Like, are you aware that there’s a, that speed testing? Um, in certain age groups have like just an extreme variance, uh, around p h and even a lot of, a lot, a lot of like sports coaches. I’m not educated about that. And then I don’t wanna, I never wanna do selection or talent identification based on data that.

Put into, into a context of development, uh, growth and maturation. I mean, this is something I think we need to do a lot more education about, because especially in football, uh, like yeah, football is, is a, is a really good example. How often, like I hear from football coaches or even parents, oh, you all of a sudden got so slow, or all of a sudden he had, he doesn’t have.

He’s not that fast anymore in the field, and he’s so uncoordinated, and I’m like, well, that’s normal. He’s growing. You just wait a bit, like, uh, you don’t need to make a decision now. Or it just, it is normal that he’s a bit uncoordinated right now or that he’s not that fast anymore. Uh, probably his arms and his legs have grown a lot and the body doesn’t really cope with it very well.

You need to give them time and address the new bodies. You can’t expect progress throughout a time when a lot of the body changes so much. And um, that’s something where I think we have a huge, uh, lack of education in sports, uh, in general. And that’s something I think we shouldn’t. Put more focus on, because I’ve, I’ve experienced a couple of times that even parents put pressure on their kids said, why are you so slow?

All of a sudden you’re not working hard enough. You have to work harder. And you got like, yeah. Especially the thing of, yeah, you don’t have the skills anymore. You need to work more. And then the kid is dealing. Growth spirit. And then it gets from the parents, it gets home from the parents or the coach.

He got slower and needs to work harder. And then basically on the growing money, they put more volume because that’s usually what happens. Um, and then it’s, it’s just a huge mess up. And it’s, it’s simply because coaches and parents have no clue what is happening with their child during puberty. That’s something, um, I think.

Where we need to do a lot more work as s s C coaches, um, or I, sports performance coaches in general.

Siobhan Milner: Yeah. I’ve had it with certain athletes during their growth spurs. Like I, I remember one athlete in particular who it’s like, there was one phase where he just lost, lost all perception of where his body was like, The body awareness changes entirely and it’s like, oh really?

My back’s doing this. Oh really? My arm’s out here and it’s, yeah, it’s pretty crazy to see that transition sometimes.

Elisabeth Oehler: Yeah. I had it in weightlifting. I had it once. Um, there was, there was a four weeks summer break, which is like, not four weeks is not that long, but I had a kid coming back after four weeks and I think grew like this and we had to adjust, like for the snatch and the clean we.

We had to completely start over with how wide the grip should be. Yeah, And then I was like, actually, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea to adjust it now. Just like let him play some other sports. We gonna adjust it maybe in like a month or two because you might still grow, grow a bit more.

Yeah. It’s what growth and maturation does is, is, is crazy and what impact it has on, on, on skills.

Siobhan Milner: So I feel like we’ve gone on all sorts of tangents in our discussion today, but I wonder if there is anything that you would want listeners to take away from this if there’s anything you’d wanna share in particular.

Elisabeth Oehler: Yeah, I think the last point that I made was actually a good statement for, to finish, we need to do more education, first of all, educate ourselves. Um, and, and, uh, this also includes, uh, like, it took me a lot of time, um, to educate myself about these topics as well because it’s also not, you know, you don’t learn any coaching course.

And also in the majority of youth sports coaching coach courses, your student learner. So first of all, uh, never stop learning about what is, what is going on with your athletes, so about growth, maturation, um, et cetera. Um, I think that’s, even if you’re working with youth athletes, it’s even more important than knowing ex every training method and, and what adaptations you get out of it.

It’s more actually more important to, to, to know, uh, what is going on, uh, in the body of your athletes. The second thing is something that I. Say for quite a while, coaching kids is not really, something that is appreciated a lot. A lot of people think it’s cool, it’s so important, but not a lot of people actually wanna do it.

And we have this issue, especially when it comes to resistance training with kids. Everyone always thinks, oh, that’s so cool. And, and, and look at this kid when, whenever I. A video of one of my younger kids lifting. I, I always get, get a lot of social media attraction, but there are very little, uh, there’s a very, just a very little number of s c coaches or sports performance coaches in general that actually wanna put in the work and coaching kids.

And it’s difficult to make it a business model, I’ve experienced it myself. It might be because of the country I live in, but like, I never earned any money by coaching kids. But I always found it very, very valuable for me as a coach. And also if you wanna change something in the sports system, um, coaching kids, uh, in the right way, in a good way.

And then, and. Developmental mindset, I think you, you can really make a bigger impact. You can make quite a big impact on youth sports. And, I wish more sports performance coaches would do that. And I think, um, even if it’s just having like a smaller group, uh, as a volunteer coach or having one group some, somewhere, um, where you really coach the younger kids that’s so.

I think I would like to see more because it’s, it’s quite interesting that everyone thinks it’s so nice and so cool, but nobody really wants to do it. Yeah. I wish more coaches would spend time with, uh, coaching younger athletes. I do that also just like as a. Like part-time. And, uh, I work in pro, I make my money in pro sports or in the, in elite sports and not of coaching kids, but I always found that that’s actually how you make a change in the system by coaching kids.

Siobhan Milner: I love that. Thanks for sharing.

Elisabeth Oehler: Yeah, as I said, I have a strength training for kids online course, um, that I’ve. Particularly, uh, for youth coaches that wanna start resistance training with kids that don’t really know how to start it. So if someone wants to do a project that said, okay, I’m gonna start now resistance, or a strength training or athletic developments session for kids once or twice a week, then I try to help coaches to set it up and, uh, share a bit how I did it. Yeah, that is that, Yeah, you can find it on my website.

Siobhan Milner: Yeah. Would you tell people where they can find you?

Elisabeth Oehler: So, I have a website, it’s EO Same name for Twitter, and the same name for Instagram. So I try to keep it simple. I usually reply to messages, uh, on Instagram or on Twitter. Sometimes it takes a few days, but usually, if people have questions or I’ll send you an email, that’s also fine.

Siobhan Milner: Thank you so much. Great.

Elisabeth Oehler: Thank you for having me.