Lindsay and I have been lifting and training and competing for years and while we have years of experience with the mental game, we are just beginning to really get into this with some of our lifters, but I thought I would take a few minutes and really put some thoughts up on the blog about this subject; the mental game. Some of you are just beginning your lifting journey and many of you have never competed, a few of you are thinking about entering your first competition next year and we as coaches are here to guide you through it and keep your nerves calm and keep your anxiety as low as possible and make sure you have fun at your first few meets and not take them too serious, and make sure you put up good numbers and don’t bomb out. I am writing today to really talk to the intermediate lifters who have already gotten past their first few meets. Some of our lifters have competed many times, and once you have been competing for a couple of years and get in half a dozen meets or so, after that your PR’s get smaller, and your numbers may start to plateau, and this is where the mental game REALLY comes into play.
Lindsay and I started off competing in boxing and Muay Thai, so for us, lifting competitions are easy because there is nobody punching us in the face trying to hospitalize us! But for most people, competing can be absolutely nerve racking, and the anxiety can be paralyzing. Once you get past your first couple of meets, it gets much easier, but this also where your numbers may plateau, and you may go a few meets without hitting a PR, you may have a meet that ends in a total quite a bit lower than your last meet, it happens. Once you get past your first few meets, unless you are close to 100% and been training like a beast, you can’t always go into a meet expecting a PR, yes it’s the goal, but it isn’t always the reality, so many factors go into meet day and your performance, and sometimes that performance just doesn’t go as planned. And if you’re not 100%, and your schedule or your weight or your diet or your job or your family has been causing you stress, you can’t really expect big PR’s at your upcoming meet. So you’ve got two choices, you can throw the white flag up, cry about it, and drop out of the meet, OR, you can go do the best you can, be confident, be strong, put up a decent number, and gain some more experience.
One of the biggest things Lindsay and I both try to take away from every meet is to learn something about ourselves, learn how to handle pressure, learn how to handle shitty judges calls, learn how to handle your food for meet day, learn how to handle being at a meet that takes 3 hours or a meet that takes 9 hours. Every time we are faced with an obstacle, we can either let it crush us, or we can learn how to rise up and conquer it. If all you have experienced as an athlete are great meets, every meet hitting a PR, I am telling you that will not last forever, and the first time you go to a meet and don’t crush it like you planned, it can be a real mind fuck and really effect your heart and love for the sport and it can effect your next training block and your plans for your next meet. And if you don’t have a spectacular meet, and then your next training block doesn’t go great and you don’t feel 100%, you could be going into your next meet already defeated, and you’re most likely going to have two shit meets in a row. This is the time your love for the sport, your dedication and your willingness to sacrifice comes into play. This is also when you’ve got to get your shit together mentally, you’ve got to be strong, you’ve got to be confident, you’ve got to go into this meet knowing you’re probably not going to hit a PR, but still go into the meet ready to do some of your best lifting. Not every day and not every training session and not every meet is going to be your best of all time, and that’s ok, but you have got to do your best FOR THAT DAY. Your big meet will come, where you hit that huge PR you’ve been chasing for two years, it just may not be this meet, and that’s ok, that is not a reason for you to give up and throw this meet away! You’ve still got to go out on the platform and do your best.
Something I have learned from Cal Strength and a couple of other Olympic Weightlifting coaches, is higher openers. This in itself can be a big win for you mentally, especially when it is doubtful you are going to hit a PR. If you can open higher than your last meet, that itself is a win. Think of your opener as a PR in itself. Over time this is what we want, higher openers. Maybe this meet is not your day to hit a big PR, but, if you can open higher than your last meet, and on your next meet you open higher than this meet, that PR will come eventually! Opening higher will increase your confidence, and that could be the mental boost you need to keep training hard and to think about getting that PR at your next meet.
I hope that this article helped you, and I really hope you get that PR you’ve been chasing. But please remember, Olifting and powerlifting and kettlebell sport, these sports aren’t all about hitting PR’s, these sports are about gaining confidence under the bar and under the kettlebell and gaining confidence being on the platform, these sports are about dedication and sacrifice, they are about getting stronger, mentally and physically. Remember all of this, remember to always do your best, and remember to always learn something from each meet and each training block, and always try to have fun in training and competing, every day and every session and every meet will not always be fun, but that’s ok, put in the work and do your best and that PR will come!