No they aren’t Derek, what the hell are you thinking? Well obviously the sports are incredibly different in many ways: one is a team sport the other is an individual sport, one requires athleticism one doesn't (you decide which is which). But amazingly, there is one way in which they are the exact same. Baseball has been and still is dominated by archaic coaches (except moneyball stat geeks) who only do what they were taught in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The same issue is prevalent in weightlifting in the U.S. with a wide range of coaches.
Not every coach falls prey to this. Recently Travis Mash, Tony Pica and a few others have shown how breaking from the norm can make athletes insanely strong. His willingness to put together many different training methodologies and principles from his unique background with both powerlifting and weightlifting have made him an enormous success. Okay, so I will stop pumping up Mash for a minute and get to the point.
In Russia, China, and DPR Korea coaches don't just coach movement off of a singular program someone made in 1970. They are tasked with being scientists, and to a degree philosophers. Experimenting with various new styles, ideas, and programs. I am certain many new ideas have failed, but some pieces work, and this gives them more information on how to make the most comprehensive and specific program to weightlifting success. This is their culture, to test ideas, evaluate results, and determine what parts were successful so they can build on the growth they have developed.
Unfortunately in the U.S. we are more concerned with ego than results. If your coach taught you something 10 years ago and that is the only information you’ve ever received you are missing a majority of the available information. Instead of experimenting most coaches simply follow what they have done before regardless of the amount of success or failure they have had. Their thought process seems to be, “because my coach was great, it will make me a great coach too.”
I want to challenge everyone to think, as Tim Ferriss often does, what rules or laws that govern weightlifting are simply culturally imposed. What previously existing thoughts and work can you improve on? Figure out what assumptions simply do not hold up under current situations around the world, or fail under the test of science. Then test them, or expand on them, or abandon bad ones completely.
If coaches around the world did not think on their own about how to improve the success of their athletes we wouldn't have the “bulgarian” method. When it was up to Abadjiev to determine what would help his athletes succeed, he turned to watching basketball practice for inspiration. The Russian’s started their learning with Medvedyev & Verkhoshansky and now have grown into the system we see producing incredible athletes, by building on what these great coaches did.
These coaches realized that what has been done before is not the “be all end all” of training, and because of this they have continued to improve their athletes and training systems. It is up to the people who read this article to take it upon themselves to test assumptions, and find new ways for the weightlifting population in the U.S. to accelerate its success. The answers cannot be found living in the past, but improving on it. So cowboy up, and break the mold.