Go into their first meet blindly:
Experience and wisdom are far more precious than strength. In powerlifting, experience and wisdom often translate to smarter training, fewer injuries, bigger lifts, and a better overall competitive experience. Contrary to popular belief, the USAPL and most other powerlifting federations are built upon the membership and success of their local, grassroots lifters. The elite level lifters are rare and precious commodities. Consequently, it is vitally important for novice lifters to be successful in their first few outings. A positive first experience will encourage lifters to stay active in their organization and continue to compete for years to come. Unfortunately, many lifters have a terrible first competition experience. They walk away from powerlifting disappointed and discouraged and left wondering what went wrong. Missed attempts and bad experiences often dissuade competitors from competing again.
Use gear to soon:
This is the root of most novice powerliftersâ€™ problems. Most people only think they know what powerlifting is, but I canâ€™t count how many times Iâ€™ve been asked, â€œIs that what they do in the Olympics?â€ Even more fail to realize that a competition squat must be taken to proper depth (crease of the hip joint below the top of the knee), a competition bench press must be paused (held motionless on the chest), and a deadlift must be lifted to a fully erect position (knees locked, shoulders back, hips through). Consequently, the rules of performance for the competitive lifts are often misunderstood completely. Additionally, novices donâ€™t know what to wear and what constitutes proper lifting attire. Iâ€™ve actually seen lifters bend over for their deadlift wearing gloves and using lifting straps. People fail to realize what the round system is and how itâ€™s used to organize a meet.
Don't understand the structure of competitions:
People automatically take an economic principle like â€œmore disposable income is betterâ€ and apply it to powerlifting as in â€œlifting more weight is better.â€ Lifting more weight is every powerlifterâ€™s goal. However, it shouldnâ€™t be done at the expense of learning proper form and technique, and becoming stronger overall without those aids.
Rush their setup:
Many people who are new to powerlifting donâ€™t understand the organization and flow of a competition. This starts immediately after getting weighed. Novices often donâ€™t pay attention to when their flight starts or where they are within their flight. This is vitally important for your warm up and mental preparation.
Open too heavy:
Many novice lifters run to the bar and have it out of the rack before you can blink. This puts the lifter in an unfavorable position. It also creates a dangerous situation for both the lifter and the spotters. Lifting heavy weights requires precision and focus. Approaching the bar and taking control of the weight too quickly can make the attempt much harder because youâ€™ve now placed additional forces on the bar that weren't there before.
This mistake is listed last, but itâ€™s certainly not the least important. Many lifters, especially novices, select an opening attempt that is too heavy. You donâ€™t win with your opening attempts unless youâ€™re Ed Coan. Opening up too heavy requires too much energy and leaves less room for improvement on subsequent attempts. Your opening attempt in each lift, particularly the squat because itâ€™s the very first lift of the day, is the most important lift of all three attempts. Your opener is like the first pitch in a baseball game, the first hit in a football game, or your first shot in basketball. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. More importantly, your opening attempt not only gets you into the meet and builds confidence, but it serves as a stepping stone for the next attempt. Missing your opener only creates uncertainty and stress, and immediately puts you in a hole.