Written by Chad Wesley Smith
All the great training in the world can be squandered on competition day if you don’t have the mental fortitude to execute on the competition platform.
One of the things I pride myself on is being able to exceed my training results in competition. While a big part of this is properly designed training and an effective peaking strategy, the other part is my mental approach to competition.
Here are three simple, but powerful ideas to help you maximize your competition results.
Trust Your Preparation
Worry and doubt will enter your mind much more quickly if you do not feel confident and content in the way you prepared yourself for the meet. Success on the platform will start many weeks before the competition, so take care to create a well-thought out plan; once that plan is created, trust it and execute it with ferocity.
One place where people, even those who work hard within the context of a great plan, tend to falter is in the final week before competition. People tend to panic, thinking that they haven’t done enough or they need something special or extra for success. This leads them to introducing new and unknown stimuli on the body via a special exercise, food, or supplement; the days before a meet are the last time you want to do this.
Believe in your program, trust your effort, and know that the meet is the time for your hard work to come to fruition.
Control What You Can Control and Don’t Worry About What You Can’t
The only things about training and competition that you truly have control over are how good of a plan you create and how diligently you execute that plan. You don’t get to pick what song is on, you may not like the bar they’re using at the meet, the sun may be in your eyes, or your competitor may have done X, Y, or Z during his training. But your results are your results.
Things like equipment in competition and environment (music, weather, etc.) are largely out of your control, so you can do some things in training to help you avoid being negatively affected by them come meet day. From an equipment standpoint, take yourself out of your comfort zone on occasion by using a whippy squat bar or a stiff deadlift bar, walk it out if you use a mono, make things less than ideal for yourself so that when you arrive at competition, nothing can phase you. From an environmental standpoint, don’t let yourself get attached to always using the same rack, or facing the same way, or listening to your music; manipulate these variables in training so that when you get in competition, you are unshakeable.
Also, remember that many factors like equipment and weather are affecting all the competitors, so when you think a bar is whippy or slick or it’s hot out, save your complaints, because everyone is probably feeling that way. Only the weak-minded will acknowledge it.
The Weights Weigh the Same At Meets As They Do In Training
So many people are intimidated by competition, but for sports like powerlifting and weightlifting, the elements of the lifts are unchanged from training to meets – there are just judges and spectators watching. The weights in competition don’t weigh more than the weights in training, and they don’t require any extra effort to lift.
Competing should be fun and bring some anxiousness with it, but that anxiousness is only going to help adrenaline flow and enhance your performance if you think about competition correctly. If you let it enter your mind that it is in a way more challenging than training or requires you to do something above and beyond what you’ve prepared for, that anxiousness will likely turn to nervousness and have a negative effect on your performance.
Meets are the fun culmination of many weeks of training; set the expectation of yourself that you will have your best performance when it matters, on the platform.