The Competitors Card

Lesson Progress:

You many not have seen the Competitor’ Card in use before if you have only competed in local competitions.

Managing the competitors card is a crucial task of any personnel who are supporting the athlete. It is not a task that the athlete does themselves, Normally the team coach is responsible for the competitor’s card but he/she can delegate this task to another athlete support person if they have too many athlete’s to manage in the session.

In the warm-up room you will see all the competitors card neatly aligned and stuck down with sticky tape on the marshal’s desk. The number of cards on the marshal’s desk can be many, up to 18 in fact, and therefore it is useful to locate your athlete’s card before the competition starts and remember its location. You will find that other coaches will mark their athlete’s card with colour texters to aid quick identification.

During the progress of the competition, the marshal will stand by the desk wearing a head set and call through any changes that are made as quickly as possible to the competition management desk in the arena. You will often find the marshal looking over your shoulder as you make any change so that he/she can act as quickly as possible.

Here is what the card looks like when you first see it on the marshal’s desk.

Signatures on the competitor’s card are very important. If you walk away without signing a change, the marshal will call you back. You can see that the opening weights of 74 and 93 have been signed for and this was done at the weigh-in.

Let’s get down to business on how to use the competitor’s card!

In the above example, you will see that a start weight of 74 has been declared. You will also see two boxes underneath marked “1st change” and “2nd change”. This means that TWO changes can be made to the athlete’s start weight.

Any and all changes can be made up to the moment 30 seconds AFTER the athlete has been called to the platform. People who are inexperienced in competition coaching are advised to make changes BEFORE the athlete is called to the platform rather than wait to the 30 second period after the athlete has been called. You will find though that experienced coaches may do this for tactical reasons, i.e. making their mind up what the athlete should attempt. 

It is usual for athletes to declare a lighter start weight in the warm-up than they intend to take. So making a change to increase the start weight is a common tactic.

Remember you can change the start weight TWICE.

When the athlete has completed their first attempt on the platform, irrespective of whether it is a success or a failure, they have the right to go to a higher weight. Generally though if they athlete misses their first attempt, they take the same weight again.

A soon as the athlete’s first attempt on the platform is over, the marshal back at the marshals desk will write down the “automatic increment”. You can see these words in the example below. If the athlete succeeds, the marshal will write down 1Kg more than the athlete’s last attempt. In the example below, the Marshal has written in 76.  If you want 78 for your athlete, then you write this down in the box called “Declared Weight”. Your athlete will be called to the platform at 76 until you make this change. Make this change quickly before your  athlete is called if you can but there is a period of 30 seconds after your athlete has been called on 76 for you to change to 78.

You can choose to increase the weight of this second attempt if there is a tactical reason. You may be trying to match another competitor or simply that you have a high degree of confidence that the athlete should go higher. You can see that you have TWO more changes available to you.

As soon as the athlete’s second attempt is over, the marshal will again write down the automatic increment. In the example below this is 80. If you need time to make a decision, you can simply declare the same weight, as per the example below. But then you have two more changes available to you and in the example below both these possible changes are used and no more are available.

If you are the coach or athlete support person delegated, keep a close eye on the marshal’s table in the last 6 lifts before your athlete is due to be called. It happens that you thought you had 6 attempts but other coaches have gone over to the marshal’s tables and made significant changes and now you have on 3 lifts to go!

Managing the competitor’s card is a critical task.