Things Learned at a meet as a Coach

Things Learned at a meet as a Coach

In powerlifting, you should learn something every training cycle, especially from the competition. You cross-reference your failures with your training program to find the “top takeaways” that inform the areas of focus for the next training cycle. Identify the weak points, hammer them in the next program. This is a solid plan for becoming a better lifter, but what about the coach? Here are my thoughts 24hrs after a recent meet in Arkansas, which was attended by several lifters I program for and coach.


I am terrible when it comes to a poker face. I wear my emotions openly, even down to how I stand and breathe. If I am frustrated with a judge’s call, lifter missing a lift, or nervous for an upcoming attempt, it shows. It doesn’t just show, it radiates off my whole body. All of these mannerisms can be picked up by the people I’m coaching. They do not need that in their lives when they have a potential max effort attempt coming up. When someone is looking to you for guidance and support, this body language isn’t helpful.

There were several things that occurred over the weekend that were not planned, and I think my emotions rang out more than those competing. I had a hand in one of our lifters bombing out on squats. (For non-powerlifters, this means he didn’t complete a squat that was “passed” by the judges, so he did not get to complete the competition.) Although I know he does not blame me, it is something I won’t easily forget.

In a stressful situation, I did not play it conservative with my advice to try and keep the lifter in the meet, (regardless if it was a PR or not).  Problem Solving Under Stress will be something I focus on improving next time I help lifters at a meet.

Sticking to my Guns

Over the years I have seen people hit lifts that I have not expected them to, due to how their warm-ups or prior attempts went. The majority of the time, I am accurate in my call. More so with individuals I work with, as I see their training during peak phases. At a powerlifting meet, you are given three chances to complete a lift. The highest weight of the completed lift gets added to your “total”. This total is accumulated over three lifts: the squat, bench, and deadlift. So the highest weight lifted in each movement gets added together. Now, as mentioned, you get three chances to increase the weight you attempt. Usually if an attempt is missed, you take that weight again. There are times where going up is ok, but this is usually at a pro level when you are trying to beat a competitor or set some type of record.  I made poor calls this weekend due to wanting the “highest numbers” for the athletes I was helping. I failed to speak up and be brutally honest with the jumps that were “allowed.”  I am usually conservative with attempts when coaching, but I did not speak up this past weekend. Although all the lifters got PRs, smaller increases could have been made to grasp a slightly better total, which is the goal.

These are two variables as a coach (air traffic controller) that I would have liked to better serve the athletes (pilots) I was instructing this past weekend. I get to build on these qualities day in and day out with clients and members here at NBS Fitness. Every day striving to be 1% better as a coach, just as lifters move from shit to suck. This is what I am attempting to do as a coach in the strength realm. Live, Learn, Pass On.

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