Developing My Athletes' Competitive Fervor

Bob Takano


Woodland Hills, California, United States

Olympic Weightlifting


Part of my job as a coach is to prepare my athletes’ psyches for competition. All of my athletes are competitive, stubborn, and inclined to derive satisfaction from concluding whatever they start. It is my job to make use of these psychological traits to spur them on to greater performances. I made the following observations during the final two weeks of a pre-competition mesocycle leading up to our latest competition. 


snatch catch in competition

Part of what a coach must do is hone the competitive insticts of their athletes. [Photo credit: Jamie Jamieson | CC BY 2.0]



Building Desire Through Missed Attempts

After having gone through a demanding preparation cycle, their bodies are not yet restored to the point where they can successfully lift weights that they want to lift. As competitive beings, they cannot resist trying a little bit heavier weight, even if they've just lifted a personal record (PR). I watch them and realize there is a sense of incompleteness during these sessions. No matter that they may have lifted more than ever before, they are left wanting. For competitive lifters, succeeding with a PR in training only brings up the anticipation of lifting even more. 


Sometimes the misses are tantalizingly close. I enforce the training plan, which calls for no further attempts after a certain designated number has been reached. My training plan may call for 3 singles at 95%, and I know that most of them will not accomplish this prescription at this stage of their training. I do not allow them to take any further attempts beyond the three that are prescribed. This creates an even greater fervor for achieving some completeness in what they've started in these workouts.


This builds up tremendously over the last two weeks heading into the competition. Instead of the nervousness or trepidation that some competitors might feel, these athletes are anxious to get into the competition so that they can lift these weights that they feel they are capable of lifting and were denied the opportunity during the previous two weeks.


After my athletes have been through a few full macrocycles, they begin to realize that the peaking of their bodies and the psychological drive will manifest themselves in a competitive realization that is magical. I feel that this paradigm is the reason that my athletes experience steady and regular progress in their competitive results.


The Coach Trains Body and Mind

The overwhelming majority of material that I publish is about the physiological preparation of athletes, but I've always realized that one of the functions of a coach is to develop the ability to perform on demand. We talk about the upcoming meet during the final pre-competition mesocycle. It is a part of the culture of my team to expect top performances in the upcoming meet. We talk about them and create hopeful expectations.


This is an important reason for training weightlifters in groups. The development of winning culture is the best way to encourage optimal competitive efforts. This is the place for cultural leadership to develop, and the environment that I try to create is one in which these cultural leaders can emerge.


By the time we reach the competition, the lifters feel that they have trained as well as they can, and they are bolstered with that confidence. No braggadocio, just a calm, yet aggressive feeling that certain weights will be lifted. It's exciting to witness.


Prepare for your next meet with visualization:

How to Mentally Rehearse Your Weightlifting Competition


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