Intensity on Meet Day

By Dain Soppelsa

When it comes to meet day, there are so many things to think about and address that something like your intensity could be overlooked. Meet day is going to be different from any of your training sessions and it has a different feeling altogether. You’re probably going to feel some emotions ranging from excitement, nervousness or a hundred other feelings all at the same time, especially if you haven’t done very many meets. It takes some planning and some strategy to harness all this energy and put it to positive use. You’re going to need to focus on executing all your lifts as close to perfection as possible. You will need to figure out what will work best for you and give you the best chance to lift the most weight possible on the platform because that’s the ultimate goal.


What I see most often is people will exert way too much energy and get way too excited to be able to fully focus on performing. They’ll approach the platform screaming and yelling and pounding their chest. They’ll yell at the crowd and jump up and down. They’ll run up and grab the bar and shake it all around and then…they lose their form and their technique goes to crap and they miss. I’ve seen it many times during the meets I’ve lifted in and attended over the years. It’s such a waste of energy to jump all around, scream and yell, when you think about it. You’re probably about to attempt a weight near or above anything you’ve ever lifted in the past and you’re going to need every ounce of energy and strength in your body in order to complete the lift. Why waste any energy that’s not absolutely necessary? I have always felt that there is a point where getting too excited can have a negative effect on performing a max lift. Some people do it successfully, but there is a fine line before it impacts your lifting negatively.

Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely come in too far towards the low end of the emotional spectrum and be too relaxed and not focused enough. You don’t need to put on a big show for everyone in attendance, but you do need to be ready physically and mentally to lift some of the heaviest weight you’ve ever lifted. You need to be able to flip the switch once it comes time to do so. You have to be able to harness your strength and unleash it on the bar when you get to the platform. There can’t be anything besides smashing the weight with perfect execution and form on your mind when approaching the bar. All your other stresses and cares have to take a backseat on this day.


You also want to conserve your energy leading up to competing. Don’t be the guy running around all day talking to all your buddies and taking pictures. You can socialize, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be on your feet all day. Find a place to put all your gear and a good chair and post up. The whole point of having people come with you to help is so you don’t have to do all the footwork for things you may need during the course of the day. Too much time and energy goes into meet prep in the weeks leading up to a meet to waste it running around the meet venue prior to your lifting.

When it comes to my meet day approach, I’m definitely on the more conservative side. I don’t make much noise or get super excited. I keep most of my emotion on the inside and use it when I lift. I have learned over the years to flip that mental switch once they call that the weight is loaded and the bar is ready. It wasn’t always that way. I have gotten too excited during some of my early competitions. I stressed myself out and also blew too much energy from being too nervous before lifting. I didn’t execute like I was capable of doing on those days. So over the years I have figured out a balance of excitement and focus that works for me.


Now I try to relax and conserve energy as much as possible the morning of meet day. I like to zone out and focus on what I need to do. I don’t mind talking with people, but I definitely like to take it easy and focus on the task in front of me. That’s my personality though too. I’ve always been more laid back and more quiet than most, so it suits me to stay on the calm side. I’m not saying people can’t do well if they yell and scream because I’ve seen people that do that and do very well. I’m just saying that most people can’t focus on technique and form when they’re bouncing off the walls. You always have to maintain focus on what needs to be done.


In the end you have to do what works best for you. Find a balance of being excited and focus. You can play around with different approaches in the gym on your training days. Practice a competition approach during one of your heavy sessions. See how you feel approaching the bar a certain way. Figure out how you do your best lifting. You’ll need to remember that you still need to focus on your technique and cues when you lift in a meet, especially if you are a multi-ply lifter. So however you do it, you still have to be able to focus when you get your hands on the bar. All your training will be a waste if you can’t put it all together on meet day, so you need to do everything possible to ensure that that happens.

Want to know more about the lifters IQ and psyche? Check out the 10/20/Life e book.

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