Counting the Board

Lesson Progress:

Coaching at competitions requires constant vigilance of the scoreboard even before the session commences. The objective is to ensure the timing of your athlete’s warm-up is precise i.e. not too early and not too late.
It is usually the case that information is not available until the scoreboard for your session become visible for the first time and this may only be 10-15 mins before the presentation for your athlete’s session. This is usually due to the progress of the previous session.

As soon as the scoreboard for your session becomes visible, the first task for the coach is to immediately count the number of attempts that are likely to occur prior to your athlete’s first attempt. After your first count, it is advisable to check 1-2 more times and see if you come up with the same answer each time. If you are working with another coach, cross reference your count with their count and see if you agree. Then write down this number of prior attempts. It is tempting just to do the count for the Snatch but also count for the Clean & Jerk as well as it likely you will be stressed for time later.

When counting attempts, start from the top of the board and work down.  All you need to know is the number of attempts prior to your lifter. In a state competition, competitors usually span multiple bodyweight categories and the task is easier as weights are spread far apart. In a national level competition, the task is a little harder as you will likely be dealing with only one or two categories and the range of weights selected is narrower. 

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If your lifter is Bill Shorten, how many snatch attempts will likely occur before? There is an element of guesswork as we cannot be sure that athletes will start as stated, or go up or even down in weight. Furthermore, we do not know what other competitors will choose for 2nd and 3rd attempts. Nevertheless, we can still make an educated guess!

Our athlete is starting at 85Kg, so probably:
Birmingham – 3 attempts
Farrell – 3 attempts
Butler – 3 attempts
Frydenburg – 3 attempts
Bowen – 1 attempt 
Burke – 3 attempts
McCormack – 1 attempt
Ciobo – 3 attempts
Morrison – 3 attempts
Albanese – 3 attempts
Porter – 1 attempt possibly 2 attempts
So a probably count is: 27 or 28 lifts
Don’t accidentally count your own lifter! 

So your initial count is 27 Р28 lifts  and hopefully you have been able to obtain this count before the presentation. 

Most athletes needs only 10-11 warm up sets before their first platform appearance. Sets on the empty bar are included in this warm-up because every set takes time. So if Bill Shorten is starting on 85 snatch, his warm-up will look something like the following:

Empty Bar – 2 sets
40Kg – 2 sets (an extra set to settle the athlete down)
50Kg – 1 set
60Kg – 1 set
65Kg – 1 set
70Kg – 1 set
75Kg – 1 set
79Kg – 1 set
82Kg – 1 set

Every experienced athlete has their own preferred warm-up but novice athletes will need some guidance. 

The situation above is that the athlete requires 11 sets and the usual rule is that the time taken for each warm-up set is equivalent to 2 competition platform attempts. Thus, 11 sets is 22 platform attempts and since there are 27 attempts before Bill Shorten, he should not start warming up with a bar until 5 competition attempts have passed. It is very common for athletes to want to get going with their warm-up as soon as the competition starts but this error often means the athlete warms-up 10-20 minutes early. This is a significant issue to be avoided.

However, if your athlete was Simon Birmingham, starting on 75, then there will be only 10 attempts before his first lift. Since he may also require 10-11 warm-up sets, he would need to start with an empty bar before the presentation of athletes and immediately after the presentation in the 10 minute period prior to start of competition, he would need to complete 5 warm-up sets. This would leave only 4 sets to do and this would need to be done before he is called.

Things don’t always go to plan. If you get behind with time, don’t panic. Just go a little quicker between warm-up sets. If things are going too slowly because the competition is very slow, put in an extra warm up set.