Indoor season has started, and you have your first meet around the corner. You aspire to do well; training has been going well, but the nerves start rising as you get closer to game time. You start questioning yourself, wondering if you will do well or not. Today's blog will discuss strategies to prepare for competition and compete like an absolute savage!
Before we discuss about competing, I wanted to start the conversation with a topic I believe to be just as important, the preparation. When I competed at Worcester State, I had a training notebook where I would keep my goals and focuses in. I would have my long- and short-term goals written as a reminder to where I wanted to be. Alongside that, I would have one or two process goals, goals where my focus was on executing a certain part of my throw to give me the result I wanted. Having those written down, held me accountable and served as fuel to the fire of my motivation.
Just recently, I went to one of my athletes season opener. As we were talking before the competition started, he realized that he forgot his shorts at home. I asked him quotation don't you put out all your clothes before hand?", and he said "no". I believe that packing your bag, making sure that your uniform is there, and just having everything prepared is another layer of preparation for competition. Once you have everything that will limit one distraction during competition time. The more distractions we can limit, the more focus we can put into performing.
The next level of competing like a savage would be warming up. I am a big advocate of performing a dynamic warm-up before competition begins, priming the central nervous system (CNS). I personally like to get a sweat going, as that is an indicator that my body is primed for high intensity bouts. I'm not saying you have to sweat to feel ready but that was one indicator for me. Some athletes just want to feel loose and elastic during their warm ups. That's their indicator for being ready. Each athlete is going to have to figure out what works best for them but we want to prime the system.
My Dynamic Warm Up:
50 yd jog
Forward Skips + CW Arm Circles
Backwards Skips + CCW Arm Circles
Lateral Shuffle + Overhead (Left + Right)
High Knee Carioca (Left + Right)
Knee to Chest
Lunge with Twist
While I'm performing my dynamic warm up, I'll throw on my headphones and put on some music that's going to get me hype for competition. I try to establish a flow like state as I'm warming up, visualizing the task at hand. As I'm listening to my music, I try not to get too hyped, as that can hinder the performance. I try to find the optimal level of getting physically and mentally prepared to compete.
This concept is called the Inverted U of Arousal. When performance is low, arousal (hype) is typically low, causing under arousal. When performance is high, arousal can be too high, causing over arousal. Both can cause low levels of performance. We want to find the optimal level of arousal for the highest level of performance.
Imagine a competition where everyone but you is performing a stand throw. That competition would be boring with little to no hype at all. Do you think you would compete well? Now imagine a competition where everyone is throwing 10 feet further than you. That competition would be hype, but are you at the level to keep your cool and compete with the "top dogs"? It's all about finding that optimal zone, where you can be hyped but still execute, competing like a savage.
Warming Up In the Circle
You have your goals. You know what the task at hand is. You just finished hitting a dynamic warm up. Now it's time to warm up in the circle. What do you do?
We get asked frequently, how many throws should I take during warm ups? My answer is, as many as you need to feel prepared. I like having a plan going into competition, it allows me to eliminate distractions of what to do. If I was competing in shot put, I would take one power, one non reverse glide, and one reverse glide matching the intensity of my first attempt. That warm up felt best to me, prepping me to be a savage when it mattered most. Everyone has different needs, so what works for me might not work for you. Each athlete will have to figure out what works best, a case of trial and error.
For my young athletes, I would say try to limit your warm up throws to no more than five tosses. Three to four is optimal but you can have that fifth toss as insurance in case the fourth attempt was off. We don't need to be warm up heroes, the athlete who does too much during the warm up but not during the actual competition.
Warm ups in the circle have gone well, you feel primed, you know your vision, now it's time to go savage mode and compete!
As I previously mentioned, during my warm ups I take my full glide at the intensity of my first attempt. I do that so I establish a decent mark on my first attempt. After I get that first mark out of the way I can get after it a little more. Some athletes don't need to do this but I've always believe this is a good stratergy going into competition, as it allows the athlete to get the ball rolling and puts the athlete in a position where they don't need to think as much because they have a mark. I've seen so many athletes crack under pressure because they fouled their first attempt, doing the same on their second, and putting all the pressure on the third attempt. Very few athletes dig themselves out of that hole, so if we get established early, we won't have to think later.
Have a plan. Know the task at hand. Execute the task at hand. Communicate with your coach. Most importantly, go have fun. These are the simple keys to competing like a savage!
Competing like a savage is all about preparation. The best of the best have a plan and execute that plan at high efficiency. Figuring out what works best for you is all about trial and error but once you find it, that's where new levels of savage mode are established!
Jobs not finished, FIREMEUP - Sam Weeks
"Our aim is to provide concise and concrete education and training on the throws, helping coaches and athletes learn what they need to do to succeed and become champions."
- Dane, Trevor, and Sam