The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give.
Why compete? Why put yourself in a situation where you only have a set amount of opportunities to get it right? Why test the last couple weeks, months, and sometimes years of preparation when you are already happy with your current situation?
Think about it. This is the ultimate analogy to life. You prepare, prepare, and prepare some more for the “opportunity of a lifetime” and when that time comes, you are tested on all the preparation up to that point. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. If you succeed, there is no greater feeling than achieving what you knew you could and basking in your accomplishment with friends and family. If you fail (which in life, at some point, is inevitable) you start by looking at what more you could have done, where your preparation went wrong, and how you can be better prepared for the next opportunity (believe me, there is always another one, you just have to be prepared for it).
This is how I think about competition and this is what it has taught me.
There are no do-overs
Remember when you were a kid and you could just reset the game if things went south? Not in the real world. In the grown adult world, we have to live with the choices we make. While this might sound grim, at least the way I worded it, experiences are the only thing in the world we get to hold on to that make us who we are. Whether good or bad, these experiences shape us and make us the unique person we continually grow to be.
Just like in life, in competition, once you go up to attempt your weight, whether you make it or not, there is no going back. Maybe you miss and think “I should have started 2-3kg lower, I could have made that”, and maybe you could have, but there is no reset. Again, this sounds negative, but this is how you learn. Little by little, this is how you learn about yourself and your athletes. Some athletes can open with a near max attempt, feeding off the pressure it puts on them. Some athletes need an easy opener in order to get the nerves out and gain confidence. Whatever type of athlete you might be, you will never know until you put yourself to the test!
The end result of a process
My response to my clients and athletes that train but don’t want to compete is this:
Why come in 5-6 days a week and put yourself through the aches and pains of training (different from just exercising) and not step on the platform and see the end result?
Sure, you can see the body transformation and the increase in weights, these are things you can see in your everyday training. However, to see how your confidence and mental game has changed, you have to put yourself under the pressure of those 3 attempts, those 3 attempts to show off your months of preparation.
If you look back through the blog, you will find a video about how lobsters grow. I come back to this quite often. In order to adapt and grow, the lobster must first under go the stress and pressure of a small shell. Once it feels it has “outgrown its shell,” it finds a space and molts, growing a larger shell so it can continue its journey.
In order to grow and become more, you must put yourself under stress and pressure. Got to be the lobster!
Doing well is all relative
Maybe you don’t get 1st, hell, you might place 56/57. Competition is not always about trying to beat the top dog. Take this example:
You have 10 people in your weight class. Your best snatch is 80kg and your opening at 75kg, to give yourself some room and because you are feeling good that day. You look at the card table and see someone opening at 103kg. Now, even if you PR your snatch, there is no way you are going to jump 22kg over your personal best to try and beat that guy.
The point is, if you go on to hit 80,82 or hell even 85 kg, this is a huge accomplishment. Under pressure, in a different setting, and in front of a crowd of people, you managed to lift more that you ever had in a setting of familiarity with friends around to encourage. This is fantastic, and even if you place second to last, you came in and did better than you ever had before and I can guarantee you won’t care about the place you finished, a PR in competition is the best feeling!
How to overcome failure
The one downside (I don’t consider this a downside, but we will address that further down the page) is that if you compete, at some point, you will fail. You will fail to do as well as you want to, you will miss a lift, or you will have an all out poor performance. Just like in the rest of our lives, shit happens, and we move past. We come up with a plan–a plan to make sure the same failure does not happen again. We take what we learn from competition and we come up with a training plan to strengthen our weaknesses and keep are strengths strong.
Failure should not be looked at as something to avoid, but rather embraced as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Have fun training and put that training to the test on the platform (whether at an in-house competition or at local sanctioned meets). Don’t let the fear of failure be the reason you avoid taking that extra leap to compete. Get a good coach or friend to help you in competition, and you might surprise yourself with how well you do and how much you enjoy the competition itself!