Just yesterday I competed at a weightlifting meet held at Synergy Sports and Performance in Toledo, OH. This was nothing new for me, having competed for the last 3+ years. I did my own thing, listening to my ipod, relaxing, and waiting to start my warm-ups. I realized, watching the lifters that were new to the sport, just how important the psychological aspect of the sport of weightlifting comes into play. It takes a lot to clear your mind before/during a lift. This is especially true in competition. Nerves and adrenalin are set on high as friends, family, coaches, and teammates may be there to watch.
I watched as one younger, very strong lifter muscled through his lifts with raw strength and aggression. This is, by no means, a bad approach to lift, but only if it can be controlled. This control must be shown with technical application. If aggression is not controlled, technique fades very quickly. When attempting maximum weights for the Snatch and Clean and Jerk, strength, power, and technique are all relied on heavily. If one of these components takes a back seat, the attempt will most likely be missed.
Having said that, each lifter will have his/her own superstitions or nuances in their preparation before an attempt. Some may say a specific cue, while others may just give a grunt or keep a calm face. Whatever it may be, they must feel as though they are set and ready for the attempt. In my opinion, this is where the psychological state of the lifter is the most important. If they miss something in their normal preparation for an attempt, this alone may ruin their chances of completing the lift. Most likely because they will immediately know they skipped a part of their ritual and cannot redo it. This also is the time that the mind must be cleared of all thoughts and environmental stimuli.
Back to the younger lifter I mentioned. He did well in the meet, but nearly dropped a jerk on his head. His approach to the bar is simple...the more anger, the better the attempt. However, this angry approach was not controlled. Again, if he can learn to control his approach to the bar and keep his mind right, his technique will stay consistent and his lifts will improve markedly.
In essence, this post is just to inform those who are not aware of how much PSYCHOLOGICAL STRENGTH is involved in weightlifting. It is not always the strongest, most powerful lifter who wins their weight class. Some may fold under the pressure, while the lifters with the 'controlled mind' will come out on top.
Here are my Snatch and Clean and Jerk 3rd attempts from the meet...