No one goes 6 for 6 or 9 for 9 in every meet. A missed lift, especially on a first or second attempt, is a potential turning point for you in the meet. Do you have the mental strength to bounce back, crush the lift, and still put together a good total? Or is that the moment when all the hard work you put in comes crumbling down?
Third attempt misses (especially when aiming for PRs) can be even more daunting or empowering. They set the tone for your next training cycle. Do they make you doubt yourself, or light a fire that inspires you to push yourself harder in your next training cycle to make up for it?
Here’s how some of Juggernaut’s top competitors dealt with key missed lifts:
Coming back after a close miss can be one of the hardest things in weightlifting, but only if you let it. On my second attempt at the Arnold, I pulled a new American record, put it overhead, and stood up. A little wiggle in my shoulder caused it to shift backwards, I saw a white light, and I dropped it. One white light, two red lights. No lift. Even with the down signal, it is still left up to the lifter to make sure the weight is under control and motionless before put down. One judge felt I stopped for a moment, the other two didn’t. That’s on me. You can’t leave it up to the judges.
The meet wasn’t a success, but getting back in the game isn’t just about training again. You look back, and you learn. A close miss can be powerful fuel. It was right there! The lift was as good as done, so you know what that means? It’s there. The capability is there. Use this knowledge to your advantage. Chalk it up as a win and know you are good for more. This can fuel your training into your next meet where you put it on the platform and make everyone forget about the time you missed because you have overshadowed that with an undisputed make. It’s a game in your own mind over which you have total control.
Make a lift. Miss a lift. Either should not change the way you approach your next lift. Obviously, making a lift gives you a boost in confidence and motivates you to make your next attempt. What happens when you miss a lift? Do you get mad and parade around the gym or competition hall like a banshee? Do you feel sorry for yourself and beat yourself down mentally? If either of these sounds like you, then consider a new perspective.
At the 2015 Arnold Weightlifting Championships, I was in the running to make the 2015 Pan Am Game Team. I opened with a near max attempt clean and jerk (115kg). I needed a 122kg clean and jerk to seal my spot on the team at that point in the competition. My coaches and I decided to go for it. Before this moment, my best clean was 123kg and my best jerk was 118kg. However, these were not the thoughts that were going through my mind. All I could think about was that I was capable of making this lift and that I owed it to my hard work in and out of the gym to make this lift. So, jumping 7 kg for my second attempt didn’t go well. I didn’t even rack the clean. Instantly, I knew that I lost my low back off the floor and pulled too slow. I didn’t freak out or tell myself that it was impossible. I kept calm, knowing that most people were thinking that I had made too big of a jump. I composed myself, took a deep breath, and told my coaches that I knew I could make the lift.
[quote]You look back, and you learn. A close miss can be powerful fuel.[/quote]
As I walked out for my third attempt and heard the whole crowd cheering for me, I smiled. I smiled because I was proud of how far I’ve come. I smiled because of the support I had. I smiled because I was confident. I smiled because I knew I had missed lifts a million times before, only to come back and make them. I smiled because I knew I was going to make this lift. On my third attempt, I easily cleaned the weight, locked the jerk out overhead and barely lost it in front, resulting in 3 red lights. Of course I was disappointed that I didn’t make this lift, but in this moment, I understood that this was only the beginning of much more.
Next time you miss a lift and are upset, belittled, or frustrated, know that none of those feelings are going to help you move onto your next attempt. Every attempt is separate from the last. Whether it’s a routine training session or the biggest competition of the year, believe in the work you’ve been doing and have confidence in every step you take toward the bar.”
Of course I didn’t want to miss or plan to miss, but it happens and it doesn’t shake me. If you have a missed lift, you need to step back and analyze why. Was it a technical problem? Did you not eat well that day? Did you not sleep well the night before? Were you not smart in your weight selection, aka you aren’t that strong yet? It is one thing to look at these things and treat them as excuses – don’t do that. You need to be honest with yourself and figure out why you missed and then create a plan to fix that problem.
During my last two meet training cycles, I missed my two heaviest training squats, missing 815/835 in training before making 937 in the meet and missing 875/930 in training before making 959 in the meet. Also, in both of those meets, I missed my second attempt squats before coming back and making them on my third attempts for PRs. When you miss a lift, you can panic, scrap your plan, and go into a tailspin, or you can compose yourself, correct your flaws, and come back and smash it the next time.”