IPF Cat I Referee
Member, IPF Tech.Comm.
Technical Report -- Powerlines #32
Dear Members of USA Powerlifting:
Greetings! While preparing this message, I find it very hard to believe that we are nearing the end of another remarkable and great year of lifting here in the USA. It also has been another year of some very hard work by all of volunteers that makes our organization, clearly overall, the number one federation in the country!
Notably, our meet directors and officials, largely, have carried the load and produced some truly great championships not only at the international and national level, but at the local and state level. Moreover, it has been a real privilege to work with such dedicated professionals and I would like to personally commend and thank each of you for you for your time and efforts. Without them, our organization would not exist!
Particularly, I would like to extend my congratulations to Jennifer and Donovan Thompson who produced and directed their first national championship and did a tremendous job! Their addition of this year's Bench Press Nationals was a masterfully produced event and a great deal of fun! Also, our congratulations should go out to Johnny Graham and the Phantom Corps Powerlifitng Team of Ft. Hood, Texas on directly what probably was one of the best ever Masters World Powerlifting Championships in the history of the sport!
During this time of year, we find ourselves now in the midst of preparing for our last major competition -- the 2006 IPF Men/Women's World Open Powerlifting Championships. Our teams have really prepared well this year and we are on the verge of stepping forward and capturing dual open world team titles. The first for our organization!
At the IPF World Championships, the annual IPF Congress is held. Notably however, this year will be especially important; as it is a year when proposed and technical rules will be voted on by the IPF Member Federations.
On this note, along with this newly proposed IPF rule changes, in this issue of Powerlines, I plan to address the following other matters. They are: IPF Doping Rule 10.11; Bench Press Shirts; Bench Press Safety Racks; USAPL Coaching Certification Course; Gear Check and Equipment Check Sheets.
IPF Rule Changes
As I mentioned in my introduction, this year will be a pivotal and important in terms of potential rule changes that are being proposed at the IPF Congress. At the IPF World Masters in Killeen, the USAPL Technical Committee met to discuss these potential changes. John Stephenson, the Chairman of the IPF Technical Committee was invited to join and was most helpful in clarifying the IPF's position on a number of these rule changes/proposals. A constructive dialogue took place over rules we, as a committee, clearly disagreed with. One of those is allowing the IPF EC in conjunction with the IPF TC, and not the IPF Member Federations, to make the rules - This is clearly improper ad unacceptable! USA Powerlifting prides itself on being a democratic organization and some of our international colleagues have lost sight of these principles that the organization [IPF] was originally founded upon when it was originated in Texas [USA] some 36 years ago! Nonetheless, the committee went through each of the changes and will provide our feedback, taking into the account the members wishes and desires, to our voting delegate at the congress. I must say your CONSTRUCTIVE feedback on the Unofficial USAPL Forum, as well as our discussions with numerous state chairman and lifters, was instrumental in our outlining our recommendations. Regardless of the outcome, the voice of the members of USA Powerlifting will be heard.
IPF Doping Rule 10.11
This rule is clearly one of the most controversial and discussed by our members within USA Powerlifting, or for that matter the sport of Powerlifting as whole. Often times, these discussions lead to highly polarizing positions. I have witnessed officials resign from their posts within the IPF due in large part, over their disagreement of this rule. Recently, over the past year, there have been witnesses to numerous high profile athletes and referees that have been suspended for not adhering to this rule -- Some knowingly and some mistakenly. In short, whether you agree or disagree with the rule, it is a rule and the IPF has now moved to enforce it after being somewhat lenient over the past couple of years. So, how does this affect the ordinary member of USA Powerlifting? Currently, our federal laws prohibit USA Powerlifting from enforcing this particular IPF rule; however, this does not mean the IPF will not enforce it. Therefore, to the ordinary member, if you decide to enter, or for that matter officiate, at a championship outside of USA Powerlifting, which has a suspended lifter competing, and it is discovered that you have taken part in this championship; you may be subject to an IPF suspension -- I can not say it any more plainly than this! Therefore, again, prior to venturing outside of USA Powerlifitng, it is highly recommended that you contact both the meet director and the administration [if there is one] of the sanctioning federation that you plan to lift in, to ensure there are no suspended lifters taking part. If there is, I would select and locate another event or take a pass. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.
Sizing of Bench Press Shirts
In speaking to our major manufacturers and distributors of bench press shirts, as well as our referees and athletes, I am going to request that when purchasing your next piece of gear that you use the manufacturers specified and recommended sizing guidelines At a lot of our championships, we are discovering that the majority of the times, besides opening too heavy, lifters are missing their attempts in the bench press, due mainly to not having their shirt correctly fitted. Not having it correctly fitted then leads to incorrectly chosen attempts. Missed or incorrectly selected attempts, our course often times, lead to bomb outs.
Therefore, I must comment, "Tighter is not always necessarily better." On this note, my recommendations are to start with a basic model shirt, and slowly increase the tightness of the shirt over a period of time, both training and competition, so that you can maintain both comfort and most importantly the control of the weight at all times when you're lifting. Maintaining control of a weight while lying in a horizontal position requires skill. This skill and control can only be acquired and maintained through practice with your shirt during your training sessions. If your shirt does not fit correctly during training, you are not going to acquire the necessary skill to perform on the platform come contest day.
Key and significant, if you find yourself out of control with the weight in training, tightening the shirt may only increase your inability to control both the eccentric and concentric movements, which often times leads to injury. If this is the case, then it may be time to move to a lager shirt. Our US manufacturers are the best in the world and have skilled customer service professionals that can assist you in the sizing of your shirt. Some are world record holders in the bench press. Please, call and take the time to speak with them and allow them to guide you in the purchase and selection of the correct shirt.
Not only will you set more PR's along the way; but your shirt will last longer and prevent injury, which is what the shirt was originally designed to do. So, the next time you and your training partners are slipping on your shirts for another training session, take a few extra minutes to ensure that it is correctly fitted and comfortable. On a final note, I am going to ask that if you're an experienced coach or lifter and see a young lifter not fitted correctly, stop and take a couple of minutes to offer constructive feedback to ensure a best fit possible taking into account what I have discussed here today - Thank you!
ER Rack Safety Bars
Erik Rasmussen of ER Equipment has developed a set of safety bars that attach easily to set of the ER Racks for the bench press. Recently, they have proved invaluable. The picture below provides to you a nice look at them. This year, we have used them at the IPF World Masters Bench Press in Miami, the USAPL National Bench Press Championships in Charlotte, and most recently in Killeen at the IPF World Masters Powerlifting Championships.
Figure 1: ER Safety Bars for the Bench Press
Figure 2: ER Safety Bars for the Bench Press
On this note, I would encourage all contest directors to either purchase or acquire a set of these for their ER/Combo racks. Those meet directors directing national meets next year, please look into having a set for your platform. As the picture indicates, they are adjustable and easy to use and for the matter build. Additionally, as an athlete or platform staff personnel, I would suggest using the following rule of thumb, when taking a safety bar rack height. It is important to take into account that when you take out the empty bar from the rack that this will not be an accurate measurement of your safety bar rack height. This is due to the fact that when you place your bench press shirt on, and place the opening weight into your hands on your first attempt, both are going to compress you down onto the bench, thereby changing your safety bar rack height.
So, my suggestion is to adjust the safety rack height an addition pin space down if you are using an empty bar to determine your safety bar rack height. The reason for this is to avoid hitting the weight against the safety racks when lowering the bar to your chest once the bar is loaded up for one of your contest attempts. During the competition, if you in fact hit the bar against the safety racks, due to having it set to high, the lift will be automatically disqualified. Finally, take a little extra time to ensure the racks are set correctly taking into the account what I have discussed in the section of my report, may possibly save you from losing attempt at your next competition.
(Editor's Note: at the CPU nationals this year, one of our lifters dropped 550 lbs on his mouth, breaking 6 teeth and tearing open his face. These safety bars would have prevented any injury)
Elbows at the Start of the Bench Press
Another concern that has been brought to my attention is the concern that lifters are not being able to lock their elbows out at the commencement and completion of the bench press. For those that are unclear on this rule, here goes -- If you are an athlete that suffers from some form of elbow injury, which prevents you from being able to fully lock your elbows out, please ensure that you present the your injured elbow[s] to all three of the seated referees, prior to mounting the competition platform. Key and important, the elbow position that you start and end with, should, for the most part, resemble the elbow position that you presented to the three  referees on the platform prior to seating yourself onto the bench press and taking the attempt.
As a jury member, often times at contests, I see lifters not being able to receive the start command or rack command due to their elbow lockout being different from what they have presented to the referees or their lockout is lower than their original starting position, which frequently and commonly leads to a red light. If you have a question on this, at your next meet, take a few extra minutes prior to the start of the contest and meet with the referees and discuss the correct starting position that shall enable you to get the necessarily signals. This will allow you to make the necessary adjustments prior to the start of the competition.
USAPL Coaching Certification Course
Dan Gaudreau under the direction of Larry Maile and Johnny Graham has produced a coaching certification program for USA Powerlifting. The first such course/class will be given at the USAPL Northeastern USA Regional Bench Press and Powerlifting Championships on December 9 & 10, 2006, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If interested in this certification program, please contact Dan Gaudreau. Special thanks to Dan for all of his hard work!
Gear check is a tedious and time consuming task. The gear check, at national and international championships is supposed to start 30 minutes prior to the weigh-in. During gear check it is recommended that lifters bring with them all of the gear they are going to use at the championship. To expedite the procedure, when going through the line, please have all of your wraps unrolled and have all of shirts, suits, etc together in separate piles. This expedites the process. More importantly, please ensure that what you are presenting to the referees is both clean and sanitary. All shoes that you are going to wear at the championship and on the platform should be clean of mud and other debris. Recently, we have seen a rash - no pun intended - of soiled and strongly scented clothing at gear that has caused some officials some discomfort. So, please as a courteous to others at the contest, please do your best to provide the cleanest possible gear and clothing to the officials at gear check. Officials, we are now moving away from annotating all gear that has been checked in, to a sheet having only the printed names and signatures of the athletes attending equipment check.
IPF Certification 2008
As a kind and gentle reminder, if you are an IPF Category I or II referee and have not achieved the necessary four  National or International Powerlifting Championships as of the end of this year, 2007 will be an important year for you. So, please review the calendar of events on the USA Powerlifting homepage and make arrangements to come and referee at one or several of our National Powerlifting Championships. Please contact either Bill Clayton or myself, if you have any questions regarding recertification of your credentials.
IPF Masters Worlds - Referees
I want to point out that our platform officiating by our referees at the IPF World Masters Powerlifting Championships was outstanding! On this note, I would like to extend my sincere thanks and congratulations to Jack Marcus, Ben Brent, Larry Maile, Dennis Burke, Regina Hackney, Joe Marksteiner, and Robb Grisham for a super job! Kathy Marksteiner was steadfast in our position as the technical controller and marshal. We used the Joe M's scoring program and it was simply flawless. Our referees are at the point that some are the best in the world and I salute them for their tireless efforts with ensuring that the high standards of officiating are met and/or exceeded. On a final note, it was my pleasure, once again, to serve as technical secretary for another world championship here in the USA and to work with the "Iron Icon" himself John Stephenson!
This year's American Open Powerlifting Championship has moved to west, and will be held in Palm Springs, California on December 2 & 3, 2006. This year's event will be under the direction of Mr. Lance Slaughter. I would encourage all of our west coast members to take part in this championship - It is a super time and Lance is an excellent competition promoter! Referees on the west coast looking to become certified as either a national and/or international official, please let me know.
In closing, if there are ever any questions, please feel free to contact me or one of my colleagues on their USAPL Technical Committee. We are always available to answer your questions. Thank you and much success to everyone!
USA Powerlifting Technical Committee