Learning to Hunt

Written by: Kevin Cann

I have been involved in competitive sports for 32 years now.  There has been a value system that has been embedded in me from all of these experiences.  I have learned that we can only control what we can control, and this is our attitude and our efforts.  Whether we were successful or unsuccessful on the previous attempt, we need to do the same thing moving forward.  We need to refocus our attitude and efforts to the next repetition.

Goal setting is a waste of fucking time.  Everyone wants to be successful at the sport that they are participating in.  I do not ask people their goals and I do not care.  The goal is to show up every single day to training and dominate every fucking repetition.  Try to get better each and every day in the gym.  This can be by adding 5lbs to a variation, but also in making better decisions, or improving speed and technique on a lift.

The ones who show up consistently and apply that effort, are the ones that stand as champions at the end. Not everyone will be an actual recognized champion in this sport.  However, who gives a flying fuck about a fake gold medal.  Makes a cool IG picture, I guess.  Real champions apply consistent effort over time, learn to overcome adversity, and pick up those around them.

This is not to knock down anyone’s achievements, but did anyone win a world championship and say “OK, did that, now I am done.”  Absolutely not.  There is something inside of them that makes them want more.  

Tom Brady was asked which was his favorite Super Bowl Victory.  This came after coming back from being down 28-3.  You know what he said?  “The next one.”  That is because the hunt is more thrilling then the kill.  That hunt is what is the addictive part of sports.

The difference between powerlifting and other sports is that powerlifting brings in all walks of life.  Anyone can sign up for a competition and participate.  This is one aspect that I love about this sport, but also one that can create some disconnect.

All lions need to be taught to hunt by the pack.  They watch and learn from their elders/coaches.  There are killers that come into this sport that have learned to hunt.  That is for sure.  There are also those that come in that think they know how to hunt or expect someone to drop off lunch for them.

The things about the hunt is, you only worry about the next one.  Lions are not concerned with the hunt next Tuesday, just the task in front of them and how to execute it.  Lions are only successful 25% of the time when they attempt a kill.  There is a lot of failure involved.  Failures that have very large consequences.

However, they strategize, refocus, and attempt the kill again.  They draw on experiences that they learned from the other members of the pride as well as from playing with the other cubs in the litter.  They also learn from their own experiences.  The lion does not become the king of the jungle on his or her own.  It takes the entire pride.  Being around other lifters can show us these different perspectives.  Sometimes you have an “aha moment” from teaching someone something, or you draw on an experience you witness.  None of this you get alone.  This is an individual sport but requires a team to truly be successful.

I learned how to hunt by being around high level coaches and athletes for the majority of my life.  A coach’s job is to pass down that value system to the next generation.  Not everyone is going to be a world champion, but if everyone follows these values, they will be a champion at in life. 

The difficult part of this job is that often the lifters do not want to listen to that message.  They think they know how to hunt.  I am shocked by the number of times that a lifter tells me how things are and that they know best.  

My fucking life is powerlifting.  Others reading it might think that their life is, but while they are at their day job, I am reading and improving my craft.  I have coached hundreds of lifters and athletes over 15 years in this field.  I have a band on my arm that says “squat, bench, deadlift” so that I am reminded to think of the sport every fucking minute.  I don’t coach anything else or have any other jobs.  I only do this and have for 6 years.

I also know how to fucking hunt.  I may not have the biggest total in this sport, but I started later in life, and I have more high level athletic experience than almost anyone else.  You don’t learn to hunt by paying a coach to pat you on the back or give in to your every demand.

I will push my lifters beyond their comfort zone.  Many do not last.  We have a small team acknowledgement for anyone that makes it to 100 training weeks.  That is typically the time it takes to start being comfortable being uncomfortable.  A huge part of our roster is at that point.

I will yell and I will challenge you, and I will expect you to carry yourself like a champion from day 1.  I don’t care about your input like some other coaches might.  We will discuss training, but at the end of the day, I am the coach.  This is a democracy until it is not.

I know this seems to go against the grain of the current culture of powerlifting.  One, I don’t give a fuck.  Two, outside of pain, I don’t really care for what a lifter thinks until they learn what they actually need.  Over time, we develop the relationship when they know what I want, and they can have valuable input to the training process.  This takes a couple of years.  This is why I like the 100 training weeks.  Once you understand the system, we can actually have very productive conversations about training.

In order to be successful you need have discipline.  This means having the discipline to show up with a positive attitude and to work hard, every single training day.  You must commit.  This piggybacks on discipline.  You need to commit to showing up, but it goes well beyond that.  You need to commit to the championship mindset.  You need to focus and dominate every repetition in training.  Commit to taking no reps off.

You need to be accountable for your actions.  You get the total that you earn.  If you skip days, or do not give 100% to every repetition, you get what you earned.  No one else is responsible for your total except for you.  Every repetition from 70% of 1RM and higher, should be fucking murdered in the gym.  Not just lifted to lift it and to check off a box.

You need to have perseverance.  This is the ability to handle adversity.  I will push my lifters.  There are two types of people in this world.  Those that when they get punched in the face they move forward, and those that get out.  Always move forward.  

The last one is respect.  This is respect for yourself, the team, the sport, the gym, and the equipment.  Plant seeds, not concrete.  It takes the whole pride to be successful in the hunt.  Everyone has a role.  Some are teachers and some are students.  This is how we build long term success for the team and surround ourselves by lions.  Some people enter this sport with less experience.  It is our job to show them the way.

These values build a stronger powerlifting community.  The stronger that everyone else gets, the harder that everyone will push, and the stronger we become collectively.  Everyone has their role in this community.  Some will push others by the weight lifted, some will bring the right mindset, some will bring the support, and some will be bringing the lessons to be learned.  Sometimes these lessons we learn are not taught on purpose, they are more a matter of consequence.  

Remember that this needs to be fun.  When we are having fun, is when we will see the best results.  Of course, there is a fine line here.  Enjoy the people you are around and the experiences that you have.  At the end of the day, these will be the things that you remember most.  The hard work and the camaraderie with friends.

We hunt together.

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