"It’s ok. I was nervous my first time, too….."

That’s what she said.

“I’m not ready.”  Been hearing that a lot lately. 

This is a post about competing if you are confused.

Sweet lift, bro.

When it comes to getting up in front of a bunch of people and attempting to lift heavy weight, many will balk.  They feel they aren’t ready.  That they won’t be competitive.  Or that they will be laughed off the stage.  These are irrational fears, but real none-the-less.

You will never be ready for a meet.  What does that even mean?  You aren’t ready because you’re not big enough, strong enough or fast enough.  You’ll never be big enough, strong enough or fast enough.  And if you feel you are, you need to leave whatever sport you are competing in because you’ve lost your passion for it.  You’re never ready because you could always be better.

How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never competed?

I’ve always been a fan of the underdog.  “Against all odds, one man would challenge it all…(as spoken in a deep, movie trailer-esque voice over).”  What kind of asshole only fights battles he knows he can win?  You’ll never be competitive if you don’t compete.  That is how you become competitive.  If you train day-in and day-out at your gym or box waiting for the magical day when you become “competitive,” it’ll never happen.  You’re better off reading Kafka.  You just got to jump in it.  Prepping for a competition will take your training to the next level like you wouldn’t believe.  It is the ultimate motivating factor.

I’ve been to many meets and competitions of a variety of strength sports both as a competitor and as a spectator.  I’ve never seen an athlete be received poorly by the audience, meet staff or fellow competitors.  It’s a very positive environment.

Pandas don’t even have thumbs and they can lift.

On that last note, I’d like to leave you guys with a couple personal anecdotes for my own experiences in meets.  The first being my first ever Highland Games meet.  It was the Iron Thistle Highland Games in Yukon.  It was my first time, I was nervous.  I hadn’t had much experience throwing.  But I was with a good group.  The older guys among us were quick to give us new guys tips and pointers.  On more than one occasion I fell flat on my face in the middle of a throw.  Everybody within eyesight had a good laugh each time.  But someone was always there to help me up and pat me on the back.  It’s good fun.

The most memorable part of the Games was the caber toss.  It was my second attempt after a failed first.  I was able to “rack” it (if that is the term) on my shoulder but I couldn’t get my hands underneath.  I must have struggled with that pole for only a couple minutes but it felt like forever.  All the while everybody is freaking out.  The people in the stands were on their feet, everyone was shouting words of encouragement…..it was awesome.  Everybody was behind me and they truly and sincerely wanted to see me succeed.  And I did.  It was almost a perfect 12:00 flip.  Google caber toss rules if you don’t get the 12:00.

The second story I’d like to share was my first Oly meet in Van Alstyne.  Met a lot of good people there.  Chad Vaughn was there.  A couple guys who will be at Exile Open were also there.  It was a decent first meet for me.  I went 5/6 after missing my first snatch due to nerves.  Nobody laughed at that first miss even as it was baby weight.  In fact I lifted as a 105kg with 3 or 4 other guys.  It is embarrassing to say how much more weight they were lifting compared to me.  But I was the only one worried about it.  No one else cared.

The most memorable part of the meet was my last clean & jerk.  I think it was 129kgs.  The the lifter that would place first and second hadn’t even opened yet.  So I step up to the platform.  This was a PR attempt for me at the time.  I was nervous, but I felt I could do it.  Scratch that, I knew I could do it.  The adrenaline and competition atmosphere had helped give me a few more kilos.

So I clean the weight and struggle to stand up.  It was a bit of a battle and I kind of roared on the way up.  Nobody laughed at me for being a douche.  So I finally stand up and prepare for the jerk.  I focus, take a deep breath, dip and……nothing.  I just dipped and can back up (which constitutes a failed attempt).  I knew what happened and I just kind of shook my head in that “I’m a dumbass” kind of way.  But all of a sudden the crowd got behind me.  People stood up, everyone started clapping and cheering and encouraging me to finish the lift.  And I did.

Go somewhere and compete.  It will be the best thing that has ever happened to your athletic career.

Ryan S.

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