The radius of clarity extends to approximately the size of the competition platform. Beyond the platform the stage is unclear and uninteresting. Only the items within the radius are of interest. If there is a stage (which is common at national events), it is forgotten once you step on to it.
Within the radius, your vision is crystal clear. It is as if everything is in 4K. The bar is stunningly clear, as are the plates and the collar. Your footsteps are not especially loud, but they are clear if you can hear them at all.
At this point if you were to look beyond the platform, shapes and sights would be murky and out of focus. They appear to be in a dream state with objects and individuals being indistinguishable. The sounds coming from the crowd are muffled.
Your body almost tingles with the awareness you have of your individual bodyparts. You can hear very clearly the voice of your coach who is at the side of the stage but anything shouted by the crowd is indistinct.
You want to be in this altered state. You are intoxicated by it because you know that it enables you to do what you otherwise cannot.
If you’ve been trained properly, you begin the lift and you are thrilled by the sensitivity you have for each micro-event during the performance. Times seems to slow down and you can make corrections on the fly that are otherwise impossible.
At the down signal you replace the weight to the platform and the sound is consuming. It seems as if the lights have suddenly been turned on above the stage and the audience. You can hear and perceive with your body the sounds of the audience as your consciousness is suddenly spatially expanded. You have left the altered state of performance.
QUICK IN AND OUT
Remaining in the altered state can be fatiguing and the experienced performer can quickly go into the state and then out again. The less experienced have a more difficult challenge getting altered and getting un-altered.
REALIZING THE MAGIC THE NEXT DAY
It’s not unusual for lifters who’ve had a great meet to go into the gym the next day and pull on the weight that was so efficiently cleaned and jerked in competition the day before. It literally feels like a ton, and that deadlifting it might be the limit for the day. It is then and only then that you realize the magic of being in the altered state and why the competition/performance paradigm is so exquisite.
IF YOU’RE A COACH
I really can’t conceive of coaching someone to perform in the altered state if I had never experienced it myself and had learned to rely on it and use it. This is one situation that can’t be faked. Experienced coaches understand it at a visceral level, know how to get their athletes to achieve it and rely on it when making strategic decisions when the bullets are flying. If you’re planning on being a weightlifting coach, it would behoove you well to know at a very intimate level, the altered state of performance.