On Moving Powerlifting Forward
When we think of the term "Profile" we usually think it refers to a person. But a sport can have a profile too, and a continually evolving sport like powerlifting has an ever-changing profile. This month, we'll take a short look at the changing profile of our sport from a purely technical point of view, not a political one.
Equipment changes, rules change, and the technique and caliber of lifters changes. One of the things that is different over the years is the world's perspective on doping control. Whereas during our origins there was no effective doping control, doping control technology is improving all the time. This improvement is driven by the consciousness on the part of athletes, officials, and spectators that there is a sense of inherent unfairness when athletic performance is determined by who most effectively applies a given substance or group of substances. At the same time, for athletics to be accessible to everyone, and most importantly fun for everyone, the playing field must be as level as it can be. There will always be gifted athletes who will top the awards podium, but everyone must his or her chance to be as successful as they can be. That is the logic behind improving doping control.
Another area in which powerlifting is moving forward is in the quality and standard of meet production. Meet promoters continue to innovate in terms of competition conditions so that the meet is easier of the lifter and more understandable for the spectator. It has become the norm to have computer scoring. The more sophisticated competition venue includes real-time scoring so that each competitor knows where he or she stands based on the last completed lift. Spectators need this information as well so that they may follow the competition and be involved. Whereas it used to be the job of the announcer to let the crowd know where each lifter stood, the current technology allows the spectator to determine that for him or herself.
The organization of the competition has come a long way as well. It is unusual to see a competition scheduled where a lifter is obliged to spend many hours between first and last attempts. Rather, limits to flight and session size make for quick, efficient competition. Athletes who have completed their lifting may watch their peers and enjoy the meet from a spectator's standpoint.
Platform equipment has evolved as well, to include bars, discs and racks that maximize uniformity. The new combination squat and bench press stands speed the competition and make for an easier and safer competition. They also minimize the need for the lifter to adapt to different conditions at each competition. This makes for consistently quality lifting performances, benefiting the athlete and the sport. Use of approved bars and discs not only benefits the sponsors of powerlifting, who contribute a great deal to standard, high quality competition, but make any given lift recognizable. If a spectator or someone examining a lift in magazine know what the weights are, they can determine the amount of a lift. This makes for a more educated public, and greater recognition for athletes.
Rules have been put in place internationally to standardize powerlifting. The International Powerlifting Federation specifies how competitions must be conducted, which equipment may be used. The more uniform competition conditions are, including check in, weigh in, warm up facilities, and actual competition conditions the better it will be for the athletes, spectators, and organizers. Ultimately, this must increase the acceptance of our sport and its popularity.
For more information on how to conduct a powerlifting championships, please see the IPF Technical Rules, the IPF list of Approved Equipment, and contact those USA Powerlifting meet promoters who are on the cutting edge of development.