Move Forward! A Strongman Athlete’s Guide to Not Beating Yourself Up with Past Mistakes

Pick yourself up and move beyond your weaker moments.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes we go too hard on a first event and burn ourselves out for the rest of the contest. Other times we attempt to go too fast on a medley causing our grip to give and costs us valuable seconds. Far too many times we allow these mistakes to take up valuable space in our heads and it can hold us back in the contest and even in future events. By having a game plan to deal with loss, you will do more to improve your performance than by ruminating on it.

Step one: Handle your reactions

Let’s say for example you can log press 250 pounds for a single with ease every time you train your max. At the event, you can’t lock it out and miss 250 three times in a minute and get knocked out of the event early. The first thing you should do is handle the miss appropriately. While you may want to yell, storm off, cry or yell at the judge, the best thing to do is wave it off, smile and exit gracefully. Staying calm is going to stop you from having an adrenaline dump that can tire you out in the immediate future. Realize that by acting like a child you will only make matters worse and the response that “seems” natural will go against your best interests in the long run.

Strongman Celebration

Step two: Begin to immediately move past it

After you have handled your miss like a pro, continue to move beyond it by not talking about it with other competitors or coming up with excuses for why it happened. It would be easy to say that “The handles were too far apart,” or “My knee is acting up,” and then go on for 10 minutes about how it wasn’t really your fault. If your coach is there, get feedback from them and then begin to see yourself having success on the next event. By wasting valuable energy overthinking something you cannot change now, you program your mind for the negative. When we look to future achievements, we help ourselves hold a positive mindset and will have a better chance at success.

Step three: Create time between you and the error

After the contest accept your place and the rest of your performance. When you get back to training, take the proper steps to make sure you don’t repeat your mistakes. Have a new game plan in place to ensure that you do not repeat the same mistake again. You would probably do well by taking a few weeks away from that specific event and let the memory of it fade a bit. This is important for a very costly mistake. If the log miss cost you an invite to the Arnold Sports Festival it may try and haunt you longer than if it only cost you a place and you still hit the podium. Get some space between you and the past so you are not trying “too hard” to fix it.

Step four: Prevent a recurrence

Strongman Stone Load

When you step back to the log after a few weeks figure out what actually happened. Since you don’t have any excuses to cling to you won’t be as tempted to brush it off as a freak occurrence or judging mistake. Was the mistake mental? Mental mistakes include:

  • Overestimating an opener by not accounting for jitters
  • Getting too psyched up causing an adrenaline dump
  • Being distracted before you are called and not ready to go or not following instructions
  • Paying too little attention to the judge and not waiting for a down signal

For example, you may have psyched yourself out of making the press with too much expectation. If 250 is an easy opener again, that was most likely the case and you need to work on being mentally calm before making your lifts. While it seems like an easy fix you need to examine you pre lift routine and make it a habit.If the problem was a physical one, what do you need to do to fix it?

Physical issues would be:

  • A sudden injury or the reappearance of an old one
  • Moving too quickly and not getting your hands or feet in the proper position
  • Having a lack of technique

Sit with your coach once you determine the problem. Anything can be fixed if you set your mind to it. Plan better for it the next time and account for it come contest day. Above all else, have honesty and don’t beat yourself up over it. This step will be the key to making future progress on the event.

All in all, this can also be a blessing in disguise. This mistake and how you deal with it can set the tone for future problems and help you progress faster. Not being obsessed with the mistake and dealing with it head on can lead to new PR’s and make you a better competitor. The sooner you learn this, the more likely you will find happiness and success in your athletic career.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Michael Gill

Michael Gill

Weight training is in the blood of BarBend contributor Mike Gill. Learning how to lift as part of his conditioning for Jr. High School wrestling fueled a passion that has lasted now for 35 years. He has a background in all weight disciplines and has competed in Bodybuilding, Powerlifting and Weightlifting eventually finding his niche and turning professional in the sport of Strongman. Retired from competition, he now focuses on coaching and applying events from the most versatile weight discipline to other sports. His vast knowledge of Strongman has been highlighted in his work as a color commentator for live broadcasts of the Arnold World Championships, National Amateur Championships, World’s Strongest Man Over 40 and World’s Strongest Woman.Not limiting himself to just working with weights, Mike has used his decades of discipline to work as a life coach and speaker. Additionally he can often be seen in New York City as a stand up comic.He can be reached for coaching at Michaelgill100 [at] gmail.com, @prostrongman on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, and on Facebook.

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