Listen to our chat with Coach Anthony Dove, also known as Dovey. How did Dovey get into coaching? How does Dovey cope with tantrums from athletes? What’s the difference between female and male athletes in terms of attitudes and characteristics? What’s more important – technique or strength? Find out what Dovey finds challenging in coaching on this episode!
I was lifting at a school league level to start with and discovered that I wasn’t very good as a lifter. And I discovered that I had an eye for technique and helping people so I decided to keep training the best I could but offer my specialties in coaching.
you’ve got to get to know your athlete more on a personal level when you’re coaching them, so you’ve got to monitor them quite from a visual perspective and watch their facial expressions, their body language, and then you start to learn things and what triggers them in advance so you can get in there before the deterioration happens early, that’s the key. Don’t let them spiral all the way down and then try and dig him out of the hole. Because that’s really hard.
There’s been a few come across in the sport nationally, other than a couple, most of them appear on the weightlifting stage and do very well in their first two or three competitions. And then they don’t seem to be able to improve much more past that point I think the reason for it is that they have tremendous amount of strength from the CrossFit background. But their technique lets them down. And what I’ve discovered over the years is if you don’t get the technique in early and the strength overtakes the technique, it’s very hard to reverse that and fix the technique issues. I think that’s what the crossfitters suffer from.
Anthony Dove’s coaching achievements include several Commonwealth Games, more than six Commonwealth Games in fact. He worked as an Australian coach at the Olympic games, World Championships, Oceania Championships, and most recently the Arafura Games. He is the coach of the Victorian team athletes from 2002. He coached Seen Lee at the Olympics and at the Commonwealth Games.
Episode 032 : The coach's lens Anthony Dove
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Hello guys, today we are interviewing coach Anthony Dove. His coaching achievements has its long and varied and has a depth of knowledge that any budding coach and also athlete should be encouraged, strongly encouraged to listen in on. These are golden nuggets that you will be taking with you in your stride and in your progress and in your journey to higher levels of competition. Mostly in weightlifting. This mostly applies in weightlifting however, the principles are transferable and across many different sports. Coach Anthony Dove's coaching achievements including several Commonwealth Games, more than six Commonwealth Games in fact, an Australian coach at the Olympic games at a World Championships, Oceania Championships, and most recently the Arafura Games. He is the coach of the Victorian team athletes from 2002 to present. He coached Seen Lee at the Olympics, at the Comm Games. 15 plus athletes, from minor to international representations from Junior Worlds to Oceanias and beyond. So thank you guys for lending your ear tonight, or whenever you're listening to it. I said tonight because I've interviewed here in the evening, and I hope that you guys will learn something from it. Because it's very rare to have someone so experienced and understand the history of weightlifting Australia, come on board to this interview. Alright, without further ado, I'll cue you in on this and have a listen to it. Thank you.
Hi there everyone. Thank you for listening in. We have got coach Anthony Dove. And he has been a coach for 35 years +++ a lot of experience right through the years. So I'm really grateful that he has agreed to say, to give us his expertise and his insights about weightlifting and the sport itself. Tonight is 8 pm and this is after training and he has been really kind and generous to donate his time for you guys to learn something about the history of the sport and coaching. So let's get on to it. So when and how did you get into coaching?
I was lifting at a school league level to start with and discovered that I wasn't very good as a lifter. And I discovered that I had an eye for technique and helping people so I decided to keep training the best I could but offer my specialties in coaching.
And that's a very long time. So that�s obviously is a very, very long time. What kept you going?
I was probably not doing a lot of coaching at the start was just helping fellow training partners, but towards 2000, I came across a couple of athletes that have had injuries.
And I could see them struggling. So I was helping them. Probably not the correct way behind another coach's back but they were desperate.
And we made large improvements very quickly. And first of its history and now became probably a full time coach, if you want to call it that, from 2000.
It is a huge commitment, because you're here all the time. How do you balance that? With work? You're in motorsport, right?
And how do you balance the both?
Luckily enough, I have my own business so I can dictate my hours. You've got to be passionate. You've got to enjoy what you do. And that's what I like seeing these people smiling.
enjoying their sport. So that makes me keep coming back.
That's true. When they lose their enthusiasm for the sport, or for their training, the process of training, it gets a bit hard to train. So as we know, coaching is more than simply prompting, programming and cueing. How do you work through the odd aspects such as managing tantrums, mental blocks, and coaching for 40 athletes?
you've got to get to know your athlete more on a personal level when you're coaching them, so you've got to monitor them quite from a visual perspective and watch their facial expressions, their body language, and then you start to learn things and what triggers them in advance so you can get in there before the deterioration happens early, that's the key. Don't let them spiral all the way down and then try and dig him out of the hole. Because that's really hard.
And that takes that can take months or years to recuperate. Is that?
Definitely, if I really get negative towards this sport and it gets, very hard to pull them out of it.
Sometimes do they play a mind game with you because sometimes athletes and coaches do they have this tug of war, mental tug of war with each other.
Girls not so much.
Oh, really well
Girls, I actually find are quite easy to coach because once they set their mind to doing something, and they're committed, they're committed. Boys is a different thing. Boys are always trying to negotiate the programs.
Trying to back the tiny Joffe cut rips.
Oh, that's funny
Boys are shocking for it.
Well, speaking of boys and girls, I know that you have a lot of females under your tutelage. And one of my questions was going to be - What was the difference apart from negotiation?
Well, my first elite athlete was obviously Seen Lee. And at the time, there wasn't a lot of information around with female strength training. So we experimented a lot with programming. And then we discovered through her training and also our interaction with the Chinese team and a couple of other teams that we went and trained with that everybody found the same thing that the women could train a lot harder and recover a lot quicker than the boys could. So my programming led towards a lot more women in my tutelage than boys did because I generally couldn't do the programming
for the boys
for the boys. Yes,
The boys are a different ballgame altogether. I think even in different sports well some of my experience are in. I don't coach them, but I help rehab them. If it is in team sports boys will react a little bit better than individual sports, but in individual sports the females seem to be better than the males. So it's quite interesting. From my perspective, the psyche of the athletes in CrossFit versus weightlifting is the same. Have you seen in your experience any have you experienced any crossfitters come over to weightlifting and have done really well.
There's been a few come across in the sport nationally, other than a couple, most of them appear on the weightlifting stage and do very well in their first two or three competitions. And then they don't seem to be able to improve much more past that point I think the reason for it is that they have tremendous amount of strength from the CrossFit background. But their technique lets them down. And what I've discovered over the years is if you don't get the technique in early and the strength overtakes the technique, it's very hard to reverse that and fix the technique issues. I think that's what the crossfitters suffer from.
Is that a mentality thing or a habit thing? or?
Yeah, I think it's a learned thing. I think if people had the time to strip it back, and go back to technical work, you could probably fix it. But the problem is most of the crossfitters tend to be in their mid 20s to late 20s. So they feel they don't have the time to do that. So they just think I'll just get stronger.
and that doesn't work.
It only works to a certain level. And it will definitely hit a brick wall over really, really soon. The next question would be becoming more technical here. What key indicators do you see for athletes when they are jumping up a level from let's say intermediate to advanced and then advanced to elite? Do you have some kind of criteria gauge around that?
As in what do I use?
What do you use? Yeah
Probably, their back squat to front squat is the first indicator. In most cases, people generally can front squat very close to their back squat when they first start. When they start getting a moderate gap between the two squats, maybe a 20 to 30% gap in weights between a front squat and a back squat. Then the next one is the gap between your snatch and clean and jerk.
Once that gets to sort of 20% that's when you're starting to really move on. I think
Because for some people who are starting out or, they are strong. And they start out and there you see the snatch and the clean and jerks there. The range it's got quite similar when they� this I think that in my observation my very early stages observation it's as if they cannot seem to go past a particular percentage is only about 10 kg difference in the percentage when I see that there were about 10 kg difference in percentage usually something else is going on for them. Do you see that as well?
Yeah, the hard part with lifting is confidence onto the bar. The snatch improves quite quickly because it's technical. And if they've got a grasp of where their body is and how to move, the snatch improves quite quickly, which sort of gets dragged along with the clean and jerk. But then once for the clean and jerk to take off, they've got to have lots of confidence to dive under a big weight. There's a big difference between getting under a bodyweight snatch compared to trying to get under a double bodyweight clean and jerk.
for a boy and for a girl. For the female is as hard to get under one and a half times of bodyweight.
Going back to the other assessment tools that you can use. Boys tend to need to be out of front squat for three to four reps on the way that they're going to claim. Girls for some reason, it's only two.
I don't know why it's though I haven't been able to explain that. When we went and trained in China in 2007, the Chinese coach told us the same thing
They said that the boys generally do two to one squats to the girls.
I see. It could be a nervous system thing. It could be a neurobiological thing. I haven't wrapped my head around that yet. So I'll leave that for now. And for those of you who are coaches out there, this is a good nugget of gold for you guys. All right. So appreciate that. Okay. So given your years of experience in this industry, how has this industry become and is currently shaped? Do you think?
When I first started there was very few women in the sport. My first weightlifting camp as a schoolboy was in 1983, it was my age, and there were very few girls doing, it was frowned upon. There was at that age that you're going to hurt your back, or you're going to have bad knees from the sport? Well, I'm 52 or something now. My knees are fine. What I've seen changes the women coming into the sport and in great numbers now. It's fantastic to see. I always said to the powers to be in the sport if you want the sport to grow, get the women in the sport and the boys will follow.
Alright. Well, there you go. You know, that's the truth, isn't it?
Yes that is.
But I see a lot of girls coming into sport as well and girls, women of all ages. I think that well, as a chiropractor, I rehab a lot of people. I think that a lot of females have to have weight training and strength training, and one of my passions is about seeing them even if they're 90 years old, they can do some kind of squat with kettlebells. So seeing a lot of these women come in and doing their, and becoming better at what they do is quite heartening. Now on the next, well the following question will be this, when females older ages come in What would be your tips and tricks for them if they're coming in at more mature age and learning weightlifting?
I really don't have an age assessment for an athlete that comes, you know, I generally run most athletes through a sequence of exercises to visually assess their capability. And then I might personalize programs based on how they move, what I perceive as their weaknesses. I guess, as an older athlete comes in, you've just got to be a bit more aware of that they're not going to have the perception that a younger person has and they'll be slower picking up technique. So you've got to be cautious in that area, but I can't think of any
barriers to entry.
I've had women come in that I've coached have been in their late 60s and I've got some young girls coming in at around year 12 there's pluses and minuses on both sides. The older athletes are a little bit apprehensive about moving heavyweights, whereas the younger athletes, you've got to keep them under control because all they want to do is lift heavy weights.
So it's a bit of a balance act
balancing act. Yeah, you just got to be on the ball.
That's right. Being on the ball, and being so close to the ground and industry for such a long time. What would you like to see more of and what would you like to see less of?
I'd like to see more information regarding the different cultures or body types, at the moment from what I've read, everything is Caucasian-based. And there's not a lot of information about African physiology, Asian physiology, Eastern European seems to be very middle Europe-based. So from a coach, it's frustrating because the diversity in Australia. When different people come in, they move differently so there's not a lot of new information around this. What I struggled with Seen in the early years was, they kept telling us where her feet should be and where everything should be, but it didn't match your physiology, and we had to fumble across it ourselves. Things I'd like to see change would probably be less athletes, video analyzing themselves and less coaches putting stuff on the internet that is clearly wrong, which is very frustrating.
It's frustrating as well as because it's a double edged sword. I think. On one hand, they get people get more educated in a way they are also educated wrongly, and also rightly, the thing is that they don't know which is the wrong one and which is the right one. I don't unfortunately and I also don't see that that is going to come off anytime soon off the internet. How then does one? How should one determine what is useful for them?
That's a hard one. Because, in weightlifting, there's a perceived perfect technique for both lifts. But that doesn't take into account physiology and the way a person moves so going forward on that, you'll see some lifters on the internet with what appears to be horrendous technique, but they're able to move big weights. Well, that's because the technique suits their physiology. And if a coach gets too caught up on promoting someone like that, that's how everyone else should move or then that's when the injuries will start occurring.
That's right. So yeah, fitting the person into the tank, as compared to making the lift work for the person?
Yes, exactly. So that's what I said earlier, when you are analyzing beginners when they're coming in Yeah, you have a basic technique you want them to, to lift. But when you watch them, then you've got to make adjustments for their limb links and backlinks and how they move. So when you're watching the internet, you've got to be a bit careful because that person might be moving big weights, but that might be because of their physiology. And that doesn't apply to you.
I completely agree with that. Because people come in when they come in and say, I need to do this rehab and, for example, fumble myself to death. And I'm like, no, don't do that. It's a little bit like that. So, I understand where you are coming from, just on that note of an analysis and self analysis. What are the drawbacks of that?
Probably, too much self analysis is that you start doubting your own technique, even if it's a sound structural movement because what you've seen and how you perceive your move can be totally different.
And I have a couple of athletes at the moment that I'm trying to undo video, self teaching, because they lift quite well. But all they do is keep doubting themselves because they what they perceive is how they should move is not how they feel.
That is true.
And I keep telling them, you need to stop analyzing this.
Yes self analysis is the most difficult kind of analysis to do. Because when we start rehabbing someone from our end, and they go like, are you sure I'm straight now? I'm like, standing straight and all the lines say yes, you are. I feel so crooked. And I think that applies across all different sports, I think. And it's really hard for it. And that shouldn't be the case. They do need an expert eye on it. And that's crucial. I think for them. However, I think a lot of people, as you said now and I completely agree a lot of them are overly critical, overly analyzing or just putting a lot of videos of themselves is almost like a need for validation of some sort do you think?
I agree with that. I mean, the big problem is a lot of people don't recognize that we're human.
We're not mirrors, and even of your own body, your left side is not the same as your right side. So, and they expect themselves to be this perfection in how you move well, that's not always going to be the case.
And we had a couple of lifters migrate to Australia in the late 80s. And they are Armenians and all the time they trained by themselves with no coach because there wasn't any coaches in Australia that will be up to the standard in my opinion to give them a lot of advice. And what they used to do is they used to bring their neighbors in and sit them in front of them. Just so they thought they had a coach coaching them.
Right? Did it work?
And it worked.
And they used to because I didn't understand it at the time. This is 20 plus years ago. And now I look back, I understand what they were doing was because we know they are training on their own. Yes, they didn't feel like they were being watched. So they felt their technique was deteriorating. So they'd been the next door neighbors in their neighborhood or whoever just sit them in a chair. They knew nothing about weightlifting, but just purely so that they felt that they were being observed.
Fantastic. It's very close to psychology it's like, there are many research out there showing that if they spoke to a radio or a recorder every day, that person will feel much better, regardless of whether they have had a professional psychologist or not.
and I mean, no offense to the psychologists and counselors out there. But this is part of research and that has shown to be proven real is there's almost like, there's this movie. I can't remember what's its name, but Tom Hanks was talking to Mr. Wilson the little volleyball.
And I was wondering why there was so many in my mind. And now I understand say, hey, you just need that external feedback.
And trust yourself a bit more. I've got two more questions for you. Do you have any broad stroke plans in the works?
Not really. I've always thought of myself as a coach as a grassroots coach. I never, ever expected to be a national coach. That was never my plan. I never. I just wanted to help people. And just through time, or attrition. I've become one of the national coaches. I guess. I just like to see the sport grow. I'd like to try and help it in that direction if I can. It's pretty hard for me because my expertise is the technical side of it not the administration side of it. I like to see even more women getting involved in the sport I believe that they can benefit more from it than what the boys can, boys are naturally aggressive. And powerful people or powerful women have been over the years held back. And the women that I've coached over the years have benefited extraordinarily from lifting because it gives them confidence. They've got strength and they stand up proud. So I like to see women in the sport.
Fantastic. And I think that Seen Lee being the president now of VWA I think that she is trying to expand and grow the sport quite exponentially so I wish her luck with that. I wish you luck with that too. Lastly, how are you philosophically different or alike to other coaches.
I've always been inquisitive because of my motorsport background, I always want to know why how things work, why they don't work, how I can fix it. So I've applied the same to lifting. I've also believed in not being ashamed, I don't just because everyone else does it this way, I don't accept it. That's the right way of doing things. And I try and read as much as I can on subjects and make my own assumptions. And I, and you've got to try things. The same we have in motorsport is that nothing ventured, nothing gained. And I apply the same thing to weightlifting, you've got to try things. And sometimes I'll write programs and I'll watch them evolve and go two weeks, I'll stop the program because I go, well, this didn't work, or they are struggling or whatever. So you've got to keep trying things. And you've got to go back and try things just because something didn't work five years ago. Maybe your athletes evolved more since then, and you connect and that was too advanced for them at the time. And they can improve it.
They can do it now. Yeah, sometimes it's tiring.
You don't know. You just got to keep trying things.
It's funny how you are in motor sport. I was speaking to one of my clients or patients last night. And we were talking about how athletes need to understand their body, your bodies better, but not every athletes understand their bodies. And he said to him, he replied, he said, yeah I understand what he was trying to say, because in motorsport in Formula One, the racecar driver has got to know what's happening the ins and outs of their equipment.
Is that true?
Yeah, drivers have got to be out to give feedback back to their head engineer. So their head engineer can direct the mechanics to make the changes required to make the car go faster, and that is very close to Olympic lifters is that they need to be able to give feedback to the coaches on what they're feeling. And vice versa. The coaches need to give the visual feedback back to the athlete. So if they don't have that rapport
It doesn't work.
It's not gonna work.
Yeah. So they have motorcars that are not going to work.
Not exactly same things, the same thing. It's got to have the engineers, got to be able to talk to the driver and the drivers got to be able to talk to the engineer.
Well, I promised you two last questions about what to throw in one last, really last one. All right, because I got you here I don't get you here often. So I'm going to make the most of it. How much of it is a mental game?
That's a hard one to put a percentage to. You can train anyone to be strong. Well, not anyone but you can try and most people if they do the tonnage, they'll get strong. They won't have, not everyone has the ability to dive under big weights and as I said earlier. I could do my big squats and big pulls, but I didn't have the confidence to dive under big weights. That was a psychological side of things.
I don't know, we refer a lot to Seen here, but Seen would dive under anything. If she gets back to that athlete coach trust, if I told her a load of weight on it, she wouldn't question it. And she would try and try to get under it.
So that's probably the psychological side of it. I guess, if you're wanting a percentage, I would say 60 to 65% of it is mental
That is high
That is very high.
That's very high.
I mean and you can't teach that.
If the athlete themselves have just got to develop that confidence
is a bit more is a bit innate. And as I saw a little bit lent.
Yes. I agree. And that's the difference between when you see, beginners come in, you can spot someone who has the determination and the self confidence when they first come in, they'll dive under anything, you just go, wow.
If they're confident, but they're not hungry enough.
I guess that's the terminology cocky isn't it?
And that tends to be in the male gender. The boys tend to believe they all tend to write themselves checks they can't pay for.
Yeah, they'll talk a lot of talk and
yeah, chest thumping.
Yeah, exactly. Whereas, and this is why so in my opinion, the girls are easier to coach because their lifting will be determined by their confidence in their coach and trust. And they'll do what their coach says where the boys well you turn your back on a boy and they will have loaded 10 kilos extra on having a go at it.
Oh, no. And then they break something
Well they get hurt. That's right. They overtrain,
And there's lots of little things that happened that are detrimental to boys training.
Excellent. Thank you so much for tonight.
Alright guys. I hope you have learned something new or something really useful from this interview and I will see you guys next time. Bye.
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