Here’s Some Free Powerlifting Promotional and Production Advice That’s Worth A Fortune If Carried Out En Masse.
About The Author: Sean “Zilla” Katterle has been a full time professional in the gym sport industry for the past twelve years. He served as an on-the-air color commentator and regional marketer for FOX Sports Net and Comcast Sports Net when those two cable networks nationally aired benchpress competitions from 2002 through 2005. Also working in the print media world, Katterle has functioned as either a freelance journalist, assistant editor, guest editorial columnist and/or advertising director for IRON MAN Magazine, Planet Muscle Magazine, Powerlifting USA, Monster Muscle Magazine, Southern Muscle Plus, Powermag and for BodyTalk Magazine. He’s also travelled from coast to coast, producing, promoting and announcing for competitions held at The Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, The Los Angeles Fit Expo, The Olympia Expo, The Emerald Cup Expo, The Ronnie Coleman Classic Expo, The Europa Super Show Dallas and for The Branch Warren Classic Expo. Sean’s work as an independent contractor for House of Pain IronWear and The Powerlifting Superstore has had him sponsoring and running vendor booths at amateur powerlifting competitions sanctioned by the APF, IPA, APA, WABDL, USAPL and by The 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation. His company, HardcorePowerlifting.com, currently produces and promotes professional, raw powerlifting competitions at The NPC Emerald Cup Expo in Seattle, at The NPC Branch Warren Classic in Houston and at The Hallmark Oceanfront Resort in Newport, Oregon. His company has also produced and directed Ryan Kennelly’s benchpress documentary, The Road To The Arnold and Sean was involved as the ghost writer for the same athlete’s training manual, The Kennelly Method.
The sport of powerlifting has serious, commercially debilitating, problems with its structure and presentation. Unlike many of the pro / am federation heads, I do not believe that the organizations will merge or come together under one primary administration or even under one, completely identical set of rules and guide lines. I also recognize that a free market will almost always produce new challengers to the current collection of businessmen and that only an overwhelming level of financial dominance or government intervention can keep this from happening. Since neither of these factors will likely come into play within our lifetime, The Hardcore Powerlifting Federation accepts that it’s going to be up to a string of independent, motivated and qualified event promoters to build the sport into the second tier success that it has the potential to become. So, rather than keep all of our cards held tight against our chests, HardcorePowerlifting.com recognizes that now is a good time for the # 1 classic powerlifting production in North America to share some of our most elemental insights with powerlifting’s athletes, sponsors and recruiters. And it’s my hope that the organizers and officials will read our words and heed at least some of what I think are the valuable insights contained within.
An event organizer should never book more than thirty full meet competitors into a single day’s time. On average, each powerlift attempt takes up two minutes of time on the clock. That is allowing time for the bar weight to be adjusted, for the lifting order to be announced, for the athlete to be introduced and for the lift attempt to take place. Any delays, unexpected or otherwise, will add to this time frame rule-of-thumb. If you have thirty lifters, then you are looking at a total of 270 powerlift attempts from the very first squat opener to the final deadlift of the afternoon. That’s a full nine hours of stage time. And when you add in the time it takes to prepare the stage for the next lifting discipline, you’re easily looking at a ten hour contest day, barring any unforeseen hold ups. So, if the very first squat of the day occurs at nine o’clock in the morning, the deadlifting won’t conclude until seven o’clock in the early evening. And you haven’t even tallied up the results and started the trophy and awards presentation. This daily schedule would require that the audience either come and go, missing out on a portion of the event, or to remain in their seats from the moment they arrive after having breakfast till it’s time for a late dinner (and lunch would have to be found somewhere inside the contest hall.)
The average NFL football game lasts just over three hours. According to Major League Baseball, their nine inning game concludes in two and a half hours. Even the leisurely sport of golf trumps the exhaustive scheduling of our sport, with the average, amateur golfer completing their 18 hole, PGA course in just under five hours. If you look at every successful sport in America, you will find that none of them require that an athlete be on site for more than six or seven hours in a day’s time. Almost every powerlifting competition runs passed that deadline by two or three HOURS, if not more. Any coincidence that powerlifting, as a whole, has failed to become a success with paying sports fans? It’s undeniable that a full powerlifting competition with thirty or more participants will carry on all day, all afternoon and possibly into the night. (In this discussion, we’re not taking bodybuilding into consideration as even the Weider brothers openly admitted that it’s a subjective beauty pageant, that requires the competitors to lift weights in order to achieve the “Winning look” and not an objectively judged, athletic competition.)
So scheduling more than that number of participants per day is a recipe for disaster. The fans get bored, even if they’re close friends and family members of the people on stage. The vendor booth sponsors leave with aching feet and with the frustration that comes from diminishing marginal returns in sales per hour as the show drags on but the crowd remains static. Your stage crew becomes exhausted and they begin to dread returning to work the second day and they make a mental note to avoid your calls the next time you ring them up, seeking their help for the next one. And the athletes performances suffer as it’s both unreasonable and unhealthy to require that a lifter get themselves into a state of extreme awareness (fight or flight syndrome) for a max squat in the morning, then for a max benchpress in the afternoon and then for a max deadlift in the early evening. How many times have you seen competitors drinking coffee in the morning before they squat, then downing energy drinks a few hours later prior to benching and, finally, searching the vendors tables for pre workout energy pill sample packs to pop before trying to get fired up that early evening for the deadlifts? This is not healthy for the heart, for the nervous system and it’s certain to reduce a human’s lifting capacity and to increase their chances of injury as the day progresses.
So, in summary, we strongly encourage all event organizers to limit their number of participants to thirty lifters, per powerlift, day. If you’ve got benchpress and deadlift, single lift specialists or push pullers, you’ll need to adjust your roster blueprint accordingly (i.e. if you have twenty people signed up to just benchpress, then you better reduce your number of full meet competitors to just twenty for that day, so you stay within the nine total flights parameter.) Please remember that you’re a stage manager and not a cattle herder. Your business goal should be creating a show that turns a profit via ticket sales and sponsorship dollars and not via ramrodding as many “$100 per entry” participants across your stage as possible, until fatigue overwhelms all involved. If your business model requires that you force as many lifters into the daily mix as possible, then you’re doing a disservice to your paying customers and you’re turning a lot of people off to the sport, which stifles almost every opportunity for positive growth and increased popularity.
If you’re absolutely set on continuing to book more than thirty powerlifters into a day’s time, then you’ll need to consider adding a second (or third) platform. This will require doubling or tripling your stage and warm up room equipment, your audience seating, your sound system, your event space and the number of stage crew members you hire. That will mean that your expenses will increase by a large margin and you’ll often find that it’s much easier and far more affordable to simply add another day to your contest weekend. Another improvement option is to restructure your day so as to not keep the first flight of squatters waiting till eight hours later to begin their deadlifting attempts. You can schedule an A / B morning session and then follow with a C / D session in the afternoon if you feel that you’ve got a show that can draw an evening audience on that given day. Here’s how that would look on a timeline:
8AM = All competitors weigh-in
9AM = FLIGHT A Squat Warm UP
10AM = FLIGHT A Squats On Stage
FLIGHT B Squat Warm Up
11AM = FLIGHT B Squats On Stage
FLIGHT A Bench Warm Up
NOON = FLIGHT A Benches On Stage
FLIGHT B Benchpress Warm UP
1PM = FLIGHT B Benches On Stage
FLIGHT A Deadlift Warm Up
2PM = FLIGHT A Deadlifts On Stage
FLIGHT B Deadlift Warm Up
3PM = FLIGHT B Deadlifts On Stage
4PM = Awards are given out for FLIGHT A and B
FLIGHT C Squat Warm UP
5pm = FLIGHT C Squats On Stage
FLIGHT D Squat Warm UP
6PM = FLIGHT D Squats On Stage
FLIGHT C Benchpress Warm Up
7PM = FLIGHT C Benches On Stage
FLIGHT D Benchpress Warm Up
8PM = FLIGHT D Benches On Stage
FLIGHT C Deadlift Warm Up
9PM = FLIGHT C Deadlifts On Stage
FLIGHT D Deadlift Warm Up
10PM = FLIGHT D Deadlifts On Stage
11PM = Awards Ceremony
With this model, you’ll definitely want to hire two complete stage crews. In order to maintain quality judging, accurate barbell plate loads and full power safety spotting, you will want to double up the number of personnel you bring on board. And, if there’s ample human resources, running a 3PM weigh in for Flights C & D is also a great way to avoid fatigue and burn out as it allows your evening competitors time to sleep in as late as they want to that morning.
Ultimately, it’s up to the athletes and the fans to save the sport of powerlifting from the commercially crippling, twelve plus hour, competition day. When powerlifters contact an event promoter, they should get their assurance that they’re not signing up more than 30 total lifters per day. And, if they are surpassing that thirty person mark, that they’re either adding additional platforms or that they’re going to break the show up into morning and late afternoon groups. If the contest organizer insists on enlisting more than thirty participants per day, and on continuing with the format that’s caused this problem (three or more flights, in a row, of each power lift) then the weight lifter should look elsewhere and select a show that’s taking the steps to ensure that the event will run from start to finish within an eighth hour time frame for each individual. Promoters will either change or get out of the business if their enrolment numbers noticeably decline. YOU, the lifter, are in the driver’s seat on this one and your sign-up payments are your votes so cast them wisely and see the sport improve and become more fan friendly and more marketable.
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