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When am I ready for my first (or next) competition?

When should you compete? This is a great question and it regularly comes up at the gym. I'll try to cut to the chase. You're ready to lift at your first or next competition RIGHT NOW. Its incredibly great to get used to competing and its very motivating to show your skills on stage!

Let me just say this... I have never had someone that regretted their first meet. In fact, everyone that competes really wants to do it again! Some folks get nervous to compete because they're afraid something will go wrong - but if you and your coach make smart decisions and set good goals, then you'll have a great time on meet day! Many athletes only want to compete if they feel like their numbers have gone up, but if you go into any meet with the expectation to lift more weight than you ever have then you're overdue for a rude awakening... Try to shoot for quality at local meets AND in training, the number on the bar DOES NOT MATTER unless you're actively trying to qualify for something... but even then if you start trying to force things or suddenly start doing anything differently once things get heavier - the bar is going to teach you a lesson. The barbell don't care. The barbell will humble you. So go back to step one, focus on achieving great quality and go with openers that you don't have to think twice about. This could be your best power snatch max or your best snatch double for your snatch opener - and then your best Clean & Jerk double for your Clean & Jerk opener. However, it might be appropriate to go lighter or heavier than these numbers for any multitude of reasons.

As a coach, it's important that I think logically when deciding on numbers and helping my lifters at meets. I almost always send out my suggested openers and attempts the weekend prior to competition for my lifters. Then we can talk about it and talk through things logically. Avoiding emotion and negative self-talk (like at every other time in lifting) is absolutely essential when choosing numbers. Stuff like "But last meet I opened at 103kg, I need to open with at least 105kg or I don't want to do it" or "I have to hit a PR at this meet or else I'm going to be really bummed" is setting yourself up for a potentially rough meet and builds too much emotional lifting. Instead, focus on logical options and make good "chess" moves. Everything is up in the air on meet day and your coach will be paying attention to how you're moving, thinking, and feeling. Sometimes the weather is right and we'll make a big push, but other times we need to be smart and listen to your body even if that means skipping a third attempt. Improve little by little! There are so many areas you could focus on in any given meet - quality of movement in competition, improving your competition total, improving your Competition Clean & Jerk, improving your Competition Snatch, improving your opener, improving your second attempt, improving your third attempt, playing things more conservative, aiming for 6 for 6, playing things more aggressively, playing chase with other lifters, staying relaxed, etc. In other words, there are an infinite number of goals you could set, and they can be easily selected specific to you. Perfect 6 for 6 meets are unusual and pretty unnecessary. Instead, make the goal having fun! Then, looking back you might be able to realize all of the gains you've made - whether it was in your technique, in your composure, in your enjoyment, or maybe even a PR!

At the end of the day, everybody is ready to compete. At every local competition, there's a wide array of lifters - some might have just started lifting a week ago and others who have lifted for years. If you're gearing up for your first meet, we'll choose numbers that are well within your scope of confidence and make the focus on fun. Once you do your first weightlifting meet, you'll be VERY glad you did. Talk to your coach and nail down a couple of competition days!

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