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While winning a competition of any kind may be the ultimate goal, the journey before it and all the elements that go into that
win are the main focus. Certain fundamentals stand out as common denominators in the arsenals of the world's most successful
athletes. In most cases being gifted isn't enough to win and remain on top of the game. Achieving longevity in a sport requires
many more elements than just talent. Talent is a raw material. Though it is at the center of most success, it is a material that
will wither without care and attention. It can become nothing without a symbiotic relationship with other essential elements.
In my opinion, there are five major requirements for becoming a successful competitor. You have to do more than merely sign an entry form and show up on the day of the event. Preparation is most important. Lacking preparedness will disable any otherwise capable and qualified athlete, rendering him or her ineffective.
Preparation in bodybuilding is daily workouts and weekly routines, but it includes far more than that. It means starting a diet two weeks earlier than last time just to give yourself a cushion. It means attention to details like having two posing suits in your bag on the day of competition in case one gets soiled, having not only oil in your bag but also a towel to dab off the excess, and ensuring your music tape is wound properly. It's having a choreographed stage routine completed four months in advance instead of one week out.
Being prepared can make the difference between an angst-filled day of competition, and smooth, confident sailing. Preparing for battle requires strategy, and no matter what your strategy is, you must leave time for preparations to carry that out. Without it you don't have the second most important element in place - a confident attitude. Once you are prepared, you have all the confidence in the world. No matter how tough the field, you are able to go in believing you stand a good chance of winning.
True confidence comes from having done the work necessary to be ready on the day of an event. Even then the most prepared athlete sometimes has difficulty summoning the ability to project confidence. In these cases I like to recommend the fake it till you make it" approach. This by no means indicates faking preparation. In bodybuilding, lack of preparation is immediately apparent - much more so than in other sports. You're either lean and muscular or you're not. But for those folks who are prepared, yet don't have their confidence intact, initially faking the confidence outwardly can pave the way for genuine self-assurance to take root.
Maintaining a balance between a positive attitude and an air of confidence can be difficult. Too much attention to how your fellow competitors look can often shake that delicate balance. You may feel confident because of your personal preparation, but you also have to keep a positive attitude about the outcome of the contest. This is where visualization can come in handy. Visualization can help move you through competition smoothly because mentally you have already competed, you know the steps you'll take during your event. Picturing each phase of competition in advance helps to ease precontest jitters.
Developing skills of visualization should be easy for the bodybuilder who uses these techniques while training in the gym. For a person who has a strong mind/muscle connection, using these skills backstage will be a cinch. To properly visualize corning events and place yourself in the midst of a positive outcome, you must be able to concentrate.
While the ability to concentrate on mental imagery before an event is important, as well as focusing on the actual athletic act itself, you must be able to concentrate on yourself rather than getting caught up in what everyone else looks like. A track athlete or a football player couldn't possibly think about the mistakes of his fellow competitors ahead of time, but a bodybuilder, viewing his opponents backstage, gets a fairly good read on how the competition will go. The actual sport of bodybuilding is mostly carried out in the gym, but concerning yourself with others at the event is unwise because additional variables can influence an outcome. Will the other competitors hold their condition onstage and throughout prejudging? Will they present themselves poorly? These are circumstances that cannot possibly be predicted, so worrying about them beforehand can hurt you once you are there. Focusing strictly on yourself is the best path to take.
You may need to isolate yourself from the din of activity backstage and sit in the back of the auditorium. Even though some people say a bodybuilding contest is won once an athlete steps onstage, that isn't necessarily so. If there are four exceptional bodybuilders in one class, any one of whom would be a fitting victor, something more than a good physique is required for a win. Concentrating on your plan of attack before stepping onstage could be what takes you from mediocre to best on the score sheets in short order, It's all about your individual performance.
Bodybuilding is a unique sport. In what other activity does athletic performance impact outcome so heavily on a daily basis? Sure, every athlete practices, and in that sense performance is a daily meter of future success, but the performance necessary in bodybuilding has more to do with creating success every day in the gym. Winning those small competitions with yourself day in and day out prepares you for performing well before a panel of judges.
Performing on the stage is a different matter. Though it doesn't require you to have trained with thc world's top dancers or gymnasts, it does require that you be at the top of your game, ready to demonstrate physical perfection and detail. How you show yourself onstage can mean the difference between first and fourth place, and that's huge. Unlike most other sports where performance occurs in a specific play or maneuver, bodybuilding competition demands continuous performance. From the walk onto the stage, to the walk off the stage between classes, the necessity to perform is present. The judges and the audience are always watching. But remember, your performance must not be at the expense of other competitors, for this is poor sportsmanship.
Good sportsmanship is crucial to becoming the competitor you want to be. It comes from confidence and a position of personal power. When you focus only on yourself, and are prepared, confident and concentrated, you can free your mind of resentment, internal competition, and those seething feelings of having to beat the pants off your fellow athletes. If you are ready, are the best you can be, and have taken every step to ensure your own success, that success will follow. Being pleasant, friendly and accommodating becomes easy. You are able to reach out to other competitors because your focus is on yourself and is in perspective to the event at hand. This perspective allows you to fight the good fight, yet still remain human in doing so. Provided you've done your homework and have properly prepared yourself for competition, good sportsmanship is the ultimate finishing touch.
Preparation, confident attitude, concentration, performance, sportsmanship. These elements of competition can drastically alter your final result. If you feel some of them have been missing in the past, take the time to determine how you can better yourself in those areas where you were lacking. Going to the gym, attending practice, or planning the bare necessities of your next competition are important, but they by no means constitute the whole picture.