Improving Concentration & Attention In Olympic Weightlifting

World Championships 2015 Houston

My reason for making this topic for Weightlifters is because it is my main sport and although the points I will be giving are weightlifting examples, they can be transferred into any sport, daily life or even your career. There hasn’t been a lot of research I have found where they direct sport psychology to weightlifting so I will talk about my own experiences as an athlete and a coach as well as the weightlifting community I have worked with when it comes to Mental Skills Training/Sport Psychology.

As you all know walking onto that platform, may it be training or competition, it is YOU and the BAR. Your full concentration and attention goes into that lift and blocking any negative thinking or problems has to be done at this point in order to make a successful lift. That is it! You cannot walk up to the bar and have a million other thoughts going through your mind, especially when it comes to those heavy weights.

I have had many athletes ask me over the years how I go into training and not let my outside problems bother me. Well it is something you have to train. You have to train your mind like you train your muscles to leave those thoughts at the door and come into training with the goal of just focusing on your session.  Having a lot on your mind is a daily struggle most of us battle with, but if we want to make the best of our training or get to the top, we have to make a conscious decision to block out the negative thoughts. I am not saying do not ever worry about things that are going on don’t get me wrong. I am saying that for that hour you are working towards you goal, focus on YOUR GOAL!

I have been listening to meditations for a while now and I often do this before my session to help clear my mind. Firstly this is to put me in the right frame of mind when I go into my session and secondly I am a person that likes worrying about too many things so this is a good way for me to break away from those thoughts and make my session count.

One of the first things you should learn to do and this will take time, is NOTING. Noting is when you realize as soon as a thought pops into your mind that it is a thought that is distracting you from focusing on your training. Secondly when you note this thought, is it a positive thought? Or a negative thought? Then let the thought go and get back to your goal of your session that day.

Another thing to think of when you train is not to worry about your very last exercise and your very last set. Focus on the now! Whatever lift you are doing right now, focus on it. Even if it is just the bar. Your warm-up is what sets you up for the rest of your session. So make sure every rep and every set counts and that you think of that set you are doing RIGHT NOW!

Another great exercise I have given my athletes to do even if it sounds lame is to write down on a piece of paper what is bothering them and when you go into your session you put it in your bag and you ZIP IT UP! You zip up your problem or worry for the next 90 minutes and you go in full focus on your lifts.

There are a lot more you can do to get your focus and concentration better in a session which I will be covering in future blogs but for now, practice the following exercises and see what a difference it can make in your session.

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

For more information on how to improve your mental skills you can contact me at or visit my Instagram page @powerfulpretorius to follow my journey 🙂

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