I believe the act of competing is different from person to person. With many of my lifters I ask them to tell me WHY, why are they competing? What is more important to them on competition day: Is it the win? The PR? The completed lift? Each lifter answer differs because we all prioritize things differently. Even when my opinion does not align with their goals, I let them know that it's their meet and they get to decide how they want to play the game. At the end of the day, they are the ones who have to be satisfied with the final result.
How the first time competitor view competition day will be different than the seasoned vet who's main goal may be to WIN at all cost or to set a new American/World record. Those individuals will approach attempt selection in completely different ways and neither way is right nor wrong.
Regardless of where you are in your lifting career, I think we can all agree that the goal is to always perform the best we possibly can on that given day.
I believe it's also safe to say that as powerlifters we all have a commonality: we love lifting heavy shit. We love testing our limits, and we love the feeling of being able to load more weight on the bar. I haven’t met a single person who intentionally wants to under perform. That's ridiculous.
To say someone is going 9/9 is a reflection of him or her being TOO conservative/sandbagging is silly. There is an art and skill for going 9/9 (completing all of your attempted lifts) while also capitalizing on everything you have in you on that given day.
When I started looking at the bigger picture (building a total) versus individual lift PRs, I went from a mediocre lifter with ‘potential to be great’ but the inability to express that strength on the platform to a nationally ranked lifter. How did I become a nationally ranked lifter? I started making my freakin lifts. Instead of going 6/9, I begin to go 8/9 and 9/9. The only way you can build a total is to MAKE LIFTS. It's not rocket science but somehow people miss the point.
The only way you can build the highest possible total you can on a given day, is to come in with an effective game plan and execute it and not be afraid to adjust accordingly to how you feel.
Once again, always know your WHY. My goal is to always win if that win is within my striking distance, my secondary goal is to always place if that placing is within my striking distance, my tertiary goal is to hit a PR if that PR is within my striking distance. At my level of competition, I cannot be conservative and reach those goals nor can I miss lifts and meet those goals.
Third attempt deadlift at 2017 Raw Nationals revealed a few cross roads. I could pull for second place (Match Kris D total and win off body weight), I could yolo a first place pull (500lbs+), or I could even take a shot at Kimberly Walford’s deadlift record (490lbs).
Matt Gary and Sioux-Z told me the scenario and asked me if I thought I had 490lbs in me on the day. Naturally, I responded "whatever you guys think, put it on the bar" he said "No, I'm asking what does Samantha Calhoun think she has left in her"
Well, Samantha Calhoun was once an arrogant, reckless lifter. One who thought there was no limits to what she could do. Well that person died when I bombed out of a meet summer 2016.
Samantha Calhoun is now a smart lifter who’s objective, and has the ability to internalize exactly what she is capable of on any given day. I confidently responded back to Matt "No, I do not have 490lbs in me today based on how 463 moved.”
Am I a failure for realizing my limitations and going for the number that I felt was within me on that day?
I went 9/9. I PRed all 3 lifts and total. I placed second in the most competitive female weight class in Usapl. I'm currently ranked number 5 across all weight classes for 2017 competition year. All because I went 9/9 and I took everything that was in me on that given day and displayed it on the platform.
What kind of lifter are you?
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