What I learned at the Wheaton North Clinic

Daniel McQuaid Illinois HS Cross Country Leave a Comment


  1. Olympic Weight Lifting is a great way to train for athletes in all track events.

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That’s the fine lifting coach Tom Kraus above explaining his method of teaching the back squat. Tom is the inventor of a renowned “PE for athletes” program at West Aurora High School, and he shared some of the experience he has gained while training hundreds of athletes over the past decade. Below, he demonstrates how to teach the overhead squat.

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I’m used to training throwers, and have always taken for granted the fact that Olympic lifting was great for dudes and dudettes trying to throw things far. But a couple of the kids Tom brought along to demonstrate are excellent sprinters, and he pointed out that sprinters, jumpers, and distance runners can all benefit from increasing their ability to create ground reaction force, which is the main benefit of Olympic lifting. Take a look at these vids from the training hall at the recent World Weightlifting Championships, and you’ll see what Tom is talking about.

In order to move the bar as fast as these folks do, you have to create massive ground reaction force. That’s why Tom builds his training programs for athletes of all sports around the Olympic lifts.


2. Not everyone is as jacked as I am about “learn by doing.”

In October, I took a learn-by-doing seminar in the Olympic lifts sponsored by Eleiko Barbell. I’m not the most nimble of men these days so I felt a bit of trepidation going in, but once we started throwing weight around I had a great time!

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Doesn’t that look life fun?

Right away I decided that I wanted to use a similar approach with the throws sessions at our clinic.

But, when the moment of truth came last Saturday morning and I asked people to stand up and participate in some glide shot drills, everyone looked at me like I was speaking Swahili. I was this close to begging, when finally a young throws coach from Batavia High School took pity on me and jumped in. Her verve and generosity of spirit almost made me regret those fifty-seven references I had made to Batavia coaches being cake-eaters because they train in the Taj Mahal of field houses.


3. If people are afraid of you, they are more likely to participate in your drills.

Three of us ran the throws sessions. Me, Pat Trofimuk (our current girls coach), and Shawn Schleizer (an all-American putter at the University of Illinois in the 1990’s and currently a volunteer assistant at Glenbrook South).

You can tell from the photo above that nobody has any reason to be afraid of me. Those are ten-pounders on each end of that bar.

You can tell from the photo below, that nobody has any reason to be afraid of Trofimuk.

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Schleizer is a different story. He looks friendly enough in this picture…

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…but if you are in a confined space with him and see him snap off a few discus spins with the grace of an obscenely strong ballerina, and then he says in an irritated voice, “Okay, that’s it. Everybody up out of their chairs!”….next thing you know you are participating in learn-by-doing drills and doing your level best to pretend that you are enjoying yourself.


Anyway, it was a great day. Thanks to all of our presenters: Don Michelin on sprints, Don Helberg on hurdles, Brian Solerno on the long and triple jumps, Tom Roderick on the high jump, and Jim Westphal on the distances.

Hope to see you all there next year!




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