Your first Competition
(Olympic) Weightlifting is a competitive sport. Most of the time you train day in and day out over multiple weeks without a single competition in sight, yet it is the competition performance which measures our efforts in the sport.
Hundreds and thousands repetitions of snatching, cleaning and jerking in training build the base, nevertheless, a competition, especially the first one, is a nerve-wracking experience. We want to give you a couple of tips for your first competitions, to avoid the stress getting the better of you, so you can enjoy the moment.
Approximately an hour before the competition the athletes get weighed and their weights written down. Depending on the competition you will be assigned into a weight class, or your performance will be rated ipoints relative to your bodyweight.
For the first competition you should not worry about the bodyweight. The ability to perform and avoid bringing your body needlessly under stress is much more important.
Also, you should eat something rich in energy and easily digestible for your body.
The Initial Weight
Generally during the weighing, the athletes will be required to decide upon the weights they want for their first attempts in the respective categories. Here the general recommendation is to be conservative and opt for a weight lower than the actually intended start. For as long as you don’t get called onto the stage, you can always correct you weights upwards. This way you reduce mental pressure and maintain flexibility to assess your level of performance on that particular day.
Keep close communication with your coach and consult regularly.
Your goal for your first competition should be to have as many valid attempts as possible, ideally 6/6. If you want to attempt personal bests in snatching or cleaning and jerking, it is best to keep those for the last attempts respectively, and focus on weights you can move with certainty in your first attempts.
The Warm Up
Other than in training, during competitions you have to bring readiness to perform with high weights at specific points in time. Here on one hand you have to warm yourself up well, but also avoid exaggerating in regard to timing. Make sure to find out when your first attempt is supposed to take place, and start warming up half an hour prior to that. With the empty bar or at low weights you can go on making repetitions until you get the feeling that the movement sits. Increase load and decrease repetitions. Having reached about 80% of your starting weight, you should only do singular repetitions. If you for example plan on starting at 80kg, here is a suggested plan of action:
Attempting the starting weight during warm up already, is a thing of preference and performance state of the day. Some athletes need it for their mind, and since weightlifting is predominantly a thing of mind, this can be a good strategy to approach your first attempt with confidence.
At some point you will get called and now is your time to perform your first attempt. As previously mentioned, weightlifting has a mental aspect not to be neglected. The adrenaline rush during the moment can not be suppressed. Try staying as calm as possible and direct the energy of the stress into energy of action. Take a deep breath, go to the barbell and do everything the way you have been, during the past weeks day in day out and during the warm up just now. Trust in your ability to execute and savour the moment.
After each attempt you decide which weight you want next. You can look at the previous attempt and in consideration of your performance decide for the next weight, the weight you trust yourself in lifting. Your coach will be helping you here, and after the decision has been made, communicate the upcoming weight to the competition organisation.
Between attempts you have a couple of minutes for a breather. Use the time to focus, drink some water. Sit down and find your calm.
As usual in between disciplines there are a good couple of minutes, here we recommend for you to snack a little something and once again find to your calm. Then you start over with the warm up phase for the second part.
Competitions and weightlifting belong together, and despite or rather because of the stress and pressure, they are fun. Especially if you have prepared well and are taking a structured approach. Feel free to have some thoughts about it beforehand. And it is even better, if your coach is by your side during competition to relieve you of the thinking, because then your sole task for the competition becomes to be physically and mentally strong and call up the best of your performance.
Most important of all is of course to have fun and enjoy it. You should not perceive competitions as something negative, but rather as opportunity, to bring the best of you under ideal conditions.
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