T Nation

Overcoming Pre-Contest Nerves?

Some background info about me: I’m 16, and never cared much about any athletic event until I started lifting. I did a bench only meet last year, and the whole week leading up to the contest, I was feeling kind of anxious, and my appetite was down. I performed just fine. Last week, I was preparing to break my school trap bar deadlift record, and experienced the same thing. In my training log I wrote that I was hoping to pull in the 440lbs-460lbs for one rep. The night before, I started telling my friends that I want to pull 455lbs to smash the current record. It was around this point that I started getting nervous. It was odd. I was never scared or anything (nothing at all like a panic attack from what I’ve read about them), but I kind of had the jitters the last few hours before I went to bed. I got a pretty terrible sleep that night, and woke up at around 4:00 am and fell back asleep around 4:45, and then woke up again at 6:30, and couldn’t fall back asleep (I normally wake up at 7:15, and often fall back asleep and need to be woken multiple times). Anyways, as those of you who read my log saw, I pulled 455lbs for 3 reps. I clearly had nothing to worry about, but I think I was doubting myself. In about a week I’m attempting a 500lbs trap bar deadlift, which seems astronomically high to me (I know, it’s a warm up for a bunch of you lol) , and I feel like I’ll get the same “pre-contest nerves”, except more so, because it just seems like such a big number to me. I’m also doing a full meet at the end of April that I’d like to be calm for.

That was a lot of specific stuff about me, but I’m wondering what methods, if any, do you guys use to relieve nerves pre-contest.

Dave Hoff pukes basically before every meet ( or used to ).

You just need to practice calm breathing and visualization to bring you down. Save the energy for the lifting.

Or say fuck it and go full ray williams and bring all the hype energy.

Having nerves is fine. Feeling like the weight is heavy before you even touch it is bad.

In a week you’re going to pull 500 on that trap bar. Get your head out your ass and visualize pulling that. Also, eat a burrito, it calms everyone down.


Josh Bryant has some videos on visualization and “mental movies”, check those out.

Just don’t stress too much and open light. You know you are going to make your openers so there is nothing to worry about. This is your first full meet so it’s just a learning experience, there is nothing at stake.

Turn nervousness into aggression and unleash it on the bar.


Ha - welcome to caring about competition.
Its a good thing. Remember - EVERYONE feels like this. If they don;t - you have the advantage.
Keep calm. And every time that voice in your head that says you can’t - remember all the hours you spent in the gym making sure you could.

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I think nerves are your body’s way of preparing.

I used to fight, so stuff like public speaking and powerlifting meets really pale in comparison to me.

I just focus on controlling variables that are actually within my control. Food, sleep, rest, training, etc, so that I feel well prepared the day of. I think for this reason, I’ve always woken up wide awake and alert on days that I have a major interview, first day on the job, or a powerlifting meet.

Both times I woke up after lots of nerves the night before, I had no trouble getting out of bed (very uncommon for me), and was more focussed than I ever am first thing in the morning. I felt ready to kill it later in the day. Maybe nerves is just my body‘s way of preparing itself, but last week it was so bad it interfered with my sleep quite a bit the night before performing

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I visualise myself hitting my third attempts as I lie in bed before going to sleep.

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I think as long as the lack of sleep doesnt mess with your performance that day or get in your head, it’s good

I’m also into weird shit like meditiation (not as weird) and attempting astral projection