Be Tactical-What to Do at a Meet

As a Powerlifting coach you need to manage your lifters and do the thinking for them.

All they should need to do the day of the meet is lift.

With this in mind, here are a few suggestions for you whether you are a lifter, a coach or are handling someone.

At the meet, your lifter or lifters will usually be either stressed out about how they will perform, zoned out and focused on the meet, a total basket case or somewhere in between. Your job is to make the meet successful for them.

I like to make sure they know that all they need to do is lift what’s on the bar.

This past weekend TPS ran the TPS/RPS 20th Annual Power Challenge and we had about 200 lifters over 2 days. I don’t know how many people lifted from TPS but it was a lot.
I also am not 100% sure how many people my team handled over the weekend.
I do know that we handled at least 15 lifters between me and the coaches.

I handled one, Jane Stabile, the World’s Strongest Granny.

Going into the meet, we had to think tactically about her performance as she has another meet coming up in about a month and this one was the big one.
I say this was the big one because Jane needed a qualifying total for the Arnold XPC.
The meet she is doing next month is just for fun, Jane likes to compete in WABDL, and even though I don’t like to have people do a meet back to back
in a month, she really likes WABDL and it’s just a Push/Pull, so whatever.

Thinking tactically, I had to choose her lifts so that she would get the total needed and not expend any extra effort.
While this may not apply to you, the concept will which I’ll illustrate later.

Jane needed a 955 total to qualify for the Arnold in her age group and class (148 Master Multi-Ply).

I set out a plan to do that with no extra effort, yet room to spare in case of a missed lift.
We decided on a 375 squat, a 165 bench and a 415 deadlift which would all be easy peasy for her.
She got her 375 squat and I passed on her third attempt.

Why you say?

Well, as a coach you must know your lifters strength and weakness.

Jane has been having a few issues with her squat lately and I felt that based on her performance in the other lifts we would be fine at 375.
Also, passing on the third attempt would mean that she is a lot more rested for her bench press and deadlift.

With her bench, we couldn’t open any lighter that 165 as she would have had too much trouble touching the shirt and may miss.

She hit her 165 bench and we were in good shape.
Jane had a 540 subtotal when we got to the deadlift. A 415 deadlift should be a walk in the park as she has hit this for doubles in the gym.
She nailed 415 and got the total.

So why did I do this?

These ideas will apply to raw lifters too so if you are not a geared lifter, don’t stop reading.

When going to a meet you must have a desired outcome, a goal.

Was her desire to put up a PR total or was it to get a qualifying total for a bigger meet?

Boom, you got it.

The goal was a qualifying total.

We’ll go for the PR total at the Arnold.

You need to decide what your objective is if you are a coach, a lifter or a handler.

You must be tactical.

Maybe you are not a lifter who is qualifying for a bigger meet, maybe you just want a PR total or to win the meet.
For us, there was no one in Janes division, so winning the meet was not an issue, but even if there were others in her class
I would not have deviated from the plan.

That would not have been being tactical.
The goal was a qualifying total.
So, figure out the goal.

If it is to win, you need to see who is in the same class as your lifter and watch them.
Be sneaky.
Hang out by the score table and see what they put in for attempts.
Adjust your lifters attempt if you need to.

I did exactly this at a different qualifying meet when handling Dave Kirschen.

Bloaty McBloatenstien TPS, Be Tactical-What to Do at a Meet
He needed a qualifying placing in a hot class and need to finish top three to get the invite to Worlds.
By being sneaky and watching attempts and lifters we figured out where Dave’s attempts needed to be and he got the placing he needed to go further.

He did not win the meet, but that was not the goal.

He was also so bloated that I thought he was going to die and drinking a half gallon of pickle juice before the meet only made it better.

But I digress.

So let’s review what to do for your lifters before and after the meet.

Before the meet.

Be tactical.

Ensure they know the rules and commands of the federation hey are competing in.

Many lifters lose a lift due to missing commands. As a coach, this is your fault if they miss commands, unless it is first meet jitters.

Use commands in the gym.

Practice like you play.

Review their performance in the gym as well as at prior meets to figure out openers and jumps.

I like to run the numbers a few ways ahead of time.
I make a sheet with as many outcomes as I can. What I mean is that I look at the total needed, or previous PR total and figure out attempts in advance if the miss lift.

EG:
We need a 375 squat for Jane and that was her opener. If she hit it and it was a smokeshow, we would have gone for 400. This is a 7% jump and would have allowed to her to take a lighter deadlift at the end.

When establishing openers, you need to base this off of real numbers and reasonable percentage jumps.

I like 7% jumps on the 2nd attempt, and a 5%-7% jump on the third. I have gone as high as 10% when we needed a total, but that was a doom and gloom, scorched scenario. If the 10% jump wasn’t achieved, the meet was for nothing.

Let’s say your lifters prior best squat was 365.

It’s a pretty good bet that they are better at 365 now than at their last meet, if they are not, that’s bad.

Anyway, we can assume they a want a bigger squat than 365 now right? Plan your attempts so they are making small jumps.

Here is an example:

Same lifter with a 365 squat at the last meet, and they are smashing 365 for triples in the gym like it’s not on their back.
Since no one cares what you open at how does a 335 opener sound?

Let’s run the numbers.

335 + 7% = 358. You’d jump to 355 for the 2nd attempt.
355 + 5%= 379. I’d suggest putting in 375. Boom, 10 pound PR on the squat.
You could open a little heavier or make a 7% jump on the 3rd, but why?
Be tactical.
There are 2 more lifts to add pounds with right?

What to Do at a Meet:

Handle them the way they prefer.

Some lifters need constant management.
Some need little to none.

Jane Knee Wrap TPS

I needed none.
I only needed someone to wrap my knees, help me with my gear and tell me when I was 5 out.
I don’t like to talk or have people talk to me at a meet. I needed to stay focused.

On the other hand, there are those who need more attention and cueing.
Figure out what they need and handle them as needed.

Watch the competition and make adjustments if you need for the win, if that is the goal.
This is where your 5%-7% jumps come into play.

If your goal is to win, you may need to adjust attempts to beat the other guy or girl.

Make sure they are hydrated and eating.
Make sure they know when it is time to warm up and make sure you have their warmups planned.

A lot of lifters go to meets and it becomes like a reunion with friends you only see at meets. While this is a great part of the sport, you’ll need to crack the whip and keep them focused and get them to the warmup room on time.

Know how to talk to your lifter too.

Everyone is different.
Some will fall apart if they miss a lift. If this is the case, see my post here.
Some can take you being pretty firm with them, some need to be handled a little softer.
As a coach, you need to find the proper motivation for your lifter.

Get them to the platform and cue them during the lifts.
If they miss, ask the judge, politely why they were red lighted.

A quick word on this.
Most judges do not get paid. They do it for the love of the sport. Don’t be a dick to them.

After they lift, ask them how it felt and put the next attempt in within a minute for them. Use your judgement here. If they said it was EASY, make that 7% jump.
If they said it was heavy, make a smaller jump.

Be tactical.

A 3% jump over the last attempt successfully made will add more to the total than a 5% miss.
I hope this helps you at your next meet.

Always be tactical.

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