Guidance for a Young Weightlifter’s Parents at their First Competition

Guidance for Parents bringing their Child to a Weightlifting Meet.

Congratulations, your child has already won!
They’ve demonstrated to their coaches that they are coachable, disciplined, able to follow safety rules, respect their fellow athletes and they have shown their coaches that they are technically competent in doing the lifts and at failing the lifts safely.

If they had not already demonstrated these skills, they would not have been chosen by their coaches and this means that whatever happens on the day you should be very proud of them.

The sport of Weightlifting demands of your child to perform 6 solo acts (the lifts) on a stage in front of judges (the referees), and a supportive audience. Imagine yourself on stage performing on Ireland’s Got Talent, or even your local talent show, and you’ll get the idea of the significance of this.

There is always a small chance that your child might not be ready for this yet and on the day decide not to lift and this is absolutely ok. As I said earlier they’ve already won by being chosen but they aren’t just ready yet. Tell them that you love them and that it’s absolutely normal and ok to feel nervous and afraid of standing out there in front of all these people but that you are proud of them and that they’ll get plenty more opportunities to compete if they want to in the future.

They’ll go back training with their friends gain more confidence, practice competition routines with their coaches and then when they are ready, and they choose to, they can compete again. Remember though that the competitions are not the ‘be all and end all’. It is the training, getting strong and healthy having fun with friends that is the most important thing.

On the Day…

Before you leave the house…
Make sure that they’ve eaten well a couple of hours before the meet and have been sipping away on water.
Have your child dressed in their competition outfit with a tracksuit on top so that there is no worries about them getting changed to compete. For first competitions a pair of shorts, a tee-shirt, and runners that they are used to training in will be ok follow the advice of their coaches. More experienced lifters will have to have Weightlifting Shoes and a weightlifting singlet to compete in. Give them a water bottle and a small snack for the time they are there, small sandwich, banana/raisins etc. The excitement can deplete their energy so it’s important to make sure they have sufficient food to keep them fuelled
Dress yourself up warm. Weightlifting gyms can be freezing if you are just sitting down waiting and bring a book etc. to pass some time while they are warming up with some change for a coffee/tea.
Get there on time i.e., the time your coach has told you to turn up with your child so that they can get properly warmed up, check out the competition area, etc.
Hand over your child to the coach in the warm up area, this will be a marked off area where only coaches and athletes are allowed. Your coach will be responsible for your child during the warm up and competition.
Before the competition starts:-

As you’ll want to take a photo of your child lifting please register yourself with the organisers so that they know who you are taking photos and please only photograph/video your own child. Some competitions will have an official photographer there and if you do not want your child photographed then please let the the organisers know asap so they can advise the photographer.
Silence and put your phone in flight mode as you don’t want to be the one with the ringing phone just as an athlete is going for a personal best lift!

The Competition

The competition is divided up into 2 parts: the Snatch competition followed by the Clean and Jerk. Each lifter gets 3 attempts in each lift. The Snatch is where the weights are taken from the ground directly overhead in in one smooth accelerated movement, and received in a full or partial squat position. The lifter must then stand up with the weight steady overhead and their feet in line until they get the down signal from the centre referee. All athletes in the group do their snatch attempts and then they are followed by the 2nd part of the competition, The Clean and Jerk.
In the Clean the weight is taken from the ground to the athlete’s shoulders in one smooth movement and then when they have stood up with the weight and are steady they “Jerk” the weight overhead to fully extended arms and then stabilise themselves with their feet in line until they get the down signal.

As mentioned, each athlete gets to lift 6 times, 3 attempts at the Snatch and three attempts with the Clean & Jerk. Who goes when is based on the ascending bar system, where the weight on the bar either remains the same or continues to go up. This means that depending on the weight selection your child may either be following themselves or another athlete or several athletes between their attempts
Cheer/clap for the athletes as they come onto the platform. Stay quiet as they lift and give a great cheer with a successful lift and a consolation clap with a missed lift.
Respect the Referees decision at all times. They are watching carefully that the lifts are executed within the rules of the sport. It is not just about getting the lift overhead but about doing it in the allowed manner. The athletes are aware of the rules and the rules are there to make it fair and safe for everyone.
If your child misses a lift or is ruled not to have made the lift correctly that’s part of the sport. They’ll discuss with their coach what happened and learn from it, the important thing to emphasise is that missing is all just part of the sport and nothing to get down about!

Overall enjoy watching your child perform on the platform and let them know afterwards that you loved watching them.

Tom Brady