Mental Mistakes Made in Competition

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Mental Mistakes Made in Competition

The USAW Junior Nationals was a memorable competition. The venue was amazing, and the performances were equally amazing. I was more proud of my team than ever before. We have worked on the mentality of the sport for the last year, and it has really paid off. There were a lot less mental mistakes made. We used any small slip ups as opportunities to teach.

The psychology of the sport is one of those elements that can give you a big advantage over your competition. We are lucky to work with an expert, Nathan Hansen, but there are a lot of small things that you can do on your own that will pay off massively. There are a lot of mistakes that are made at each competition, and this one was no different.

I want to point out some of those mistakes, so that all of you can avoid or work towards avoiding those mistakes. At the end of the day we are all working towards making weightlifting better in the U.S., so I want to help all of you. This article applies to weightlifting and powerlifting. Here are some common mistakes and ways to change:

1. Getting jacked up way too early- at every competition I see young men and women pacing in the back rooms with scowls on their face. Their breathing is more rapid, and their heart rate is increased. People think that they are getting psyched, but all they are doing is getting worked up and tired.

So what’s the approach that works the best? The best approach is to stay calm and focused on the movement of each warm up. The best athletes will be totally relaxed until it’s time to go out on the platform. Instead of getting jacked out of your mind during warm ups, try using visualization to incorporate all of your senses allowing the body to take over.

2. Changing your approach for a PR or Record attempt- I watch many athletes take a certain approach to the bar on opening attempts, and then change everything for record attempts. This is a major mistake. An approach to the bar should be practiced and rehearsed. It should be the same each time. The goal is to let the body take over, so the mind won’t cause mistakes. The goal is to let the body take over like being on cruise control. The mind can be crippling. The athlete wants to channel all the senses of the body allowing their training to take over.

3. Over coaching in the back- this one is for the coaches out there. All major technique coaching should be complete by competition day. The athletes are already anxious, so each cue that you give them adds to that anxiety. The best coaches are there to keep that athletes calm. If a cue is needed, you will want to keep that cue simple like “chest up”, “finish”, or “accelerate”.

I watched one coach actually giving multiple feedback while the athlete was warming up with the bar. That very athlete went on to bomb out. I wonder why? Coaches need to handle their athletes by keeping them relaxed. Sometime I will get my athletes laughing, just to keep them calm and present in the moment. I don’t want their minds wandering and thinking about future attempts or what others are doing. I want them present and focused on each and every warm up. That’s all.

4. Watching the performances of others- this is the worst mistake that an athlete can make. There is nothing that any athlete can do about what someone else is doing. It is up to the coaches to set them up to place as high as possible. Once again the athlete needs to focus on being completely present in the moment. You don’t want to let your mind get filled with outside thoughts.

5. Too psyched for an attempt- getting too psyched causes your heart rate to elevate and breathing to increase. This is an immediate loss of energy. Great athletes stay calm and focused. Of course you want to use the element of competition to bring out the best in your performance. It’s good to get excited, but you don’t want that excitement to take over. Keep that excitement in check by focusing on each and every attempt just like you focused on each and every warm up.

These five points are keys to success. The cream of the crop will rise by applying these points to their own competitions. I want strength sports in the United States to improve as a whole. Yeah I have a team that I love, but I love Team USA too. Team USA is the end goal for all of my athletes, so I want Team USA to be the best in the world. That will take all coaches coming together to work on this sport as a whole. I am definitely willing to be a part of this movement, and I hope all of you are as well.

See you guys and gals at the Arnold Classic this weekend. Please visit us at the Mash Elite Performance Booth in the Weightlifting section.

My latest E-Book “Mash Method” is live and it’s FREE! Check it out now at:
This book has several of the techniques that I used to set personal records and world records along with some of my latest techniques that I’m using to get my athletes and me hitting all-time numbers.
-wave training
-bands and chains contrasted with straight weight
-walk outs
-partials contrasted with full ROM
-Squats for vertical leap -Sled drags to set PR 40 yd dash times
And more!

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