General feedback on 15-16 May 2021 competition

There were several instances where athletes lifted with improved form as result of excellent work done over the last training cycle to improve receiving positions.  It is a principle of greatest importance that receiving positions must be constantly nurtured as this aspect of the lift is the final arbiter of whether you succeed or fail. This is a reminder to all that performance improvement is not simply a matter of pushing hard to develop strength but more especially working frequently and consistently on technical weaknesses, often at quite modest intensities.

In the last training cycle, there were several instances of athletes who worked their way back from injury and/or illness and who competed well, looked good on the platform and posted near-best results.  Form can be recovered as quickly as it is lost when well-being improves. This is why well-being is so important.

There was also one instance of an athlete recovering from physical and psychological depletion after significantly heavy training early-to-mid cycle and posting new bests on both lifts on the competition platform. Actually, this is how it should be.  To improve, the training stimulus early-to-mid cycle needs to be high, and this usually results in perturbing levels of fatigue about 3-4 weeks out from the competition. The athlete will often suffer negative feelings and loss of confidence as a result. Then, as the training volume falls in the last 3-4 weeks, the athlete’s condition miraculously improves, confidence returns, and the athlete’s form reaches new levels. It is fair to say that, in this last training cycle, several athletes gained greater respect for the “taper”. Athletes are often scared of losing strength during the taper but in fact the taper restores your body and gives you strength.

Athletes often love to do personal bests in training to give them courage and confidence to attempt personal bests on the platform, but this is not correct thinking.  There is nothing wrong with achieving new personal bests in training but on the competition platform, you should expect to lift more than you achieved in training, especially when you taper.

Although athletes will naturally hope that all lifts in the competition warmup will be strong and easy, this is an unrealistic hope even when you are in good form. The truth of the matter is that your last warm-up, usually around 90% of your personal best, will often be uncomfortably difficult. All athletes in Weightlifting need to appreciate that each weight attempted on the platform is a “separate occasion” and not dependant on how easy the previous lift was perceived to be. So even if your last warm up weight, or indeed your previous platform attempt was uncomfortably hard, you should go out on the platform in the knowledge that you can make the lift and make the lift well. I do frequently observe this, and it is always pleasing. There is never a situation where you are asked to go out on the platform and attempt a weight beyond your capabilities.

Lastly, it is also pleasing to see athlete beginning to master the mental skills required by the sport. There is no doubt in my mind that this aspect of Weightlifting is the ultimate goal. Mental skills are developed not by accident but through a training process, just like learning technique. Athletes cannot expect to demonstrate mastery on the platform if they do not practise mastery in the training hall.

Leo Isaac, 19 May 2021