So You Want To Be A Powerlifting Meet Director? Jim Hinze, AFP Michigan State Co-Chair Courtesy Of: EliteFTS
This was the question I heard sometime late in June of 2000. I had thought about running one for sometime and mentioned it to the current Michigan state chairman. As circumstance had it, there was a meet in September/October that needed a director. I talked with Jim Harbourne about doing the meet together, and we both decided to give it a shot. Bear one thing in mind – running meets is not a profitable venture on the state/local level, it’s a labor of love.
Here’s my disclaimer: I am in no way an expert at running meets. This article is intended as a high level guide of things a new meet director should be aware of and accommodate. If this topic generates enough interest, I’d be more than willing to write a more detailed, more complete article in the future. With all that in mind, lets see what it takes to run a meet.
Dates and Location
One of the most important aspects in running a meet is finding a good location. The facility must not be opposed to holding a weight lifting event (many are). The layout must be conducive to spectators wanting to see all the action; must be conducive to the lifters with a separated warm-up area and sufficiently large lifting platform (we use 12x12). It should also be large enough to hold enough lifters and spectators comfortably. We generally use a facility that houses 300+ individuals. This relates to about 60 lifters, 150 spectators, warm-up equipment and the platform.
Many times it’s a struggle to find a venue with a date available that you really want. Be prepared with alternate dates. This is a good reason to begin preparations as early as possible.
Entry Forms, Mailing Lists, and Meet Promotion
Preparing a well laid out entry form is key. It needs to be easy to read, easy to fill out, and include an injury waiver (this help in conjunction with the insurance). Include all information a lift may need on the day of the meet. This includes but is not limited to: Location, Start time, Rules meeting time, Weight-ins (especially if your federation allows early weigh-ins), events, Divisions, weight classes, cost, cost for additional divisions/events, late entry fees, local hotel information, etc) You can find example entry forms at http://www.apfmichigan.com
You want to try and get the entry form out about 2-3 months or more prior to the event. This will give people enough time to plan for and lift in the meet. Make sure you have an entry deadline about 2-3 weeks prior to the event. This will allow you to plan for trophies based on your current entry level and expected late entries.
Most state chairmen (I assume) keep a mailing list. This is the first step in attracting lifters to a meet. Most of your lifters will do more than one meet per year. Step two is getting off your tail and putting entry forms in every local gym, health club, supplement store, college, and high school in the area. This will help entice new lifters into the sport and/or draw more curious spectators out to watch. Get the meet listed in Powerlifting USA and Powermag. Both are free services provided by the magazines for the lifters. Advertise online if your state has a website (or deepsquatter.com) and list it on messages boards. It is not unusual for lifters to travel out of state and lift. (example: The first meet Jim Harbourne and I did together, we had an entry from California).
Volunteers are the life-blood of the sport. In Michigan, we are very blessed with a dedicated group of people who will help out in any way they can, all for the good of the sport. Jim and I could not…COULD NOT run a meet without these people present. You need people to help setup the venue, tear down after the meet, spot and load, judge, help at the scorer’s table, and work concessions.
You also have to take care of your volunteers. We provide food, water, and snacks throughout the day for anyone helping out at the meet. We also try to take them out for dinner after the meet. Each volunteer also gets a free meet t-shirt.
With luck, there are people in your area who have all the equipment you don’t to put on a meet. Otherwise you have a couple of options.
1. Strike up a deal with a local gym to use plates, bars, benches, etc
2. Rent equipment from a person nearby who has everything necessary.
3. Purchase everything yourself
Option 3 is obviously the least desirable, but sometimes the only option – we can attest to that. We are in the process now of purchasing a full set of competition equipment for meets here in Michigan; it’s not cheep. In the mean while, Ernie Frantz has been most gracious by letting us use what we already don’t have.
Good segue huh? Just kidding.
Everybody loves meet t-shirts I know I do. I have an entire drawer full of them… drives my wife crazy. The trick is coming up with a good design that people will want to wear and making it cost effective to print. By cost effective I mean don’t have 5 different colors in the design, try limiting it to two or less. Find a shop that uses quality T-Shirts that hold up.
Get the design and quantities to the printer at least 4 weeks in advance. This allows for screen construction time, printing time, and shipping. Make sure you get reasonable counts with sizes. At the last two meets we purchased way too many 3xl’s. To avoid this, you may want to have the lifters pre-order the shirts on the entry form.
Trophies are very popular these days. You have lifters who lift for the trophies and will enter 7 divisions, then you have lifters who compete against their last meet PR and could care less. I would advise any meet director to include on the entry form how trophies are to be distributed. This leaves no surprises or hard feelings with the lifters. In general we do the following: Open and Novice divisions (1st – 3rd by weight class), teen, junior, submaster, master (1st – 3rd by formula regardless of weight class), we offer a team trophy, and overall man, woman, and submaster. You can split the open men into Light heavy best and heavyweight best lifters. Using this method, you won’t go broke buying trophies.
Preparing a roster advance of meet day is a very good idea. It will help you organize on meet day, know who has to weigh-in, what projected weight class the lifter will be in, and provide a spot to record opening attempts.
There are a few meet programs available for purchase that will assist in organizing this data. The quality of these programs (I’ve looked at and evaluated the three major players) range from ok to downright cumbersome to work with. Now my intent was not to give me a shameless plug, but I have been using a program I wrote for the APF Sr. Nationals held in 2000 here in Michigan for the last 5 meets. I may be biased, but it’s easy to use and provides all the information you need. I will be available later this year from Elite Fitness Systems, Inc. However, I do encourage you to check out the other three before you look at mine and make your own decision.
Make sure your organized, especially if your federation doesn’t allow for early weigh-ins. You need to get folks through there as quickly as possible. It’s best to have a couple of people on hand to help out. One to sell cards, one to get the lifter’s name / information / check valid cards, and one to record the weight. Please remember if you have women lifting in the meet, you need to have a woman present to weigh her in (I already made that mistake once).
Flights and Scoring
Make sure you follow your federation’s guidelines when putting together flights. Each Federation has slightly different rules. In general, I believe these hold true for all feds: The lighter lifter in a class always lifts first when lifting the same weight, lifters in the same weight class / division have to lift in the same flight. You want to break flights up so that you have between 10 and 20 lifters.
Scoring the meet can be easy or a tremendous headache. In a nutshell, you have to get the best of all three lifts, add them together and apply any formulas your federation uses. Then you have to organize a results sheet based on divisions, weight classes, and trophies. If you sub-total the lifts between events, you’ll be much further ahead of the game. If you use a scoring program, most of them will do it all automatically for you, hence removing the headache and the need for what I call higher math ;-)
With luck, your venue will allow you in the day before to setup the platform and warm-up area. This definitely reduces stress on the day of the meet. If not, you’re going to have a lot of work to do the morning of the meet. I have found it takes about 2-3 hours min. to get everything setup with a small group of people. The more people helping, the faster it goes. Make sure you start early enough to get the venue setup and the weigh-ins running so the meet can start on time.
Some federations require an equipment inspection prior to lifting. I have never had to do this as my federation does not require them. The only suggestion I can give you is allow enough time to do this when the lifter checks in. You may also want to talk with other meet directors who have had to incorporate these into their meets.
I know we have all participated in a ton of these throughout the years but they are important. This is where you as the meet director get to relay any special information, requirements, etc to the lifting population. One thing I make sure gets mentioned is “If you dump the bar, your out of the meet, this is your only warning”. I know this seems harsh, but it’s necessary. If you have a good platform crew, there should be no reason to ever dump the bar. We had a couple of meets here where a master lifter failed on his attempt. Rather than allow the spotters to help him up, he let go of the bar, and walked forward off the platform while the center spotter did an upright row with about 130kg.
Also go over the rules for a good squat, bench and deadlift. Make sure the lifters understand the elements that will get his lift to be turned down. Please make sure you stress what constitutes proper depth, as this is different in each federation – regardless of what the rulebook says, and make sure the judges are all on the same page.
We always have a concession table stocked with pop, chips, protein bars, protein drinks, cookies, and a plethora of other snack foods. For lunch we either bring in pizza (which seems to be the most popular) or 6” subway subs.
This is also where we sell t-shirts and collect the entry fees for non lifters. We usually charge $5 for spectators to come and watch. This helps offset the cost of everything else you have put out to run the meet.
This is the heart of the meet. Michigan has had a long history of well-run, well-liked meets. Jim and I had a template of how to run a good meet, and we do our best to follow it.
Music is key to the environment. However, I will caution you to tailor the music to who is lifting. For example, we made the mistake of playing heavy metal during the master lifter flight --- not the brightest idea we’ve ever had. Volume is also important: we’ve found the heavier the weights get; the louder they like the music. That’s fine, but be prepared for some complaints from the spectators.
It is important when announcing to call the lifter and at least the order of 4 more competitors. This way people can time wrapping of knees, pulling up straps, etc. If at all possible, get an overhead projector that will display the order and the weight attempted for each round.
We also like to print a sheet off for the platform manager so he can call the weights for each lifter. We also like to have a runner to expedite recording of next attempts. This keeps everything flowing smoothly. Unless you have a human loading chart like we have here in Michigan (James Chantler), have one for each judge and one for the platform manager. Make sure you announce if each lift is good or ‘no lift’.
Everyone looks forward to this part of the meet. All the lifting’s done, everyone had fun, and now we are ready to get trophies and go home. Simply, go through your score sheet announcing third, second, then first. Shake each lifters hand, thank them for coming out, and pose for any pictures their family may want to take.
Teardown, cleanup, and celebrate
If you have enough volunteers, clean up can go on while your presenting trophies. This helps get everyone home quicker. Make sure you leave the venue in the same condition you found it in if you hope to be invited back. Check the bathrooms, sweep up chalk and power, and stack chairs neatly.
Afterwards, it’s nice to take your volunteers out for a good steak dinner. Remember, some of them spent all day loading and unload weights on the platform. If you have ever done this yourself, you know how taxing it can be. It also helps keep moral up and let you go back over events of the day.
Here’s the bottom line: It will take in the neighborhood of $1500 - $3500 to put on a meet. With any luck and good sponsors, you may get to take home $500 or so. This profit almost always goes into purchasing new equipment, renting the hall for the next meet, promotions, etc. Here’s an overall estimate of what it costs us to put on a meet. These numbers are based on a 60-person turnout:
· Hall: $500
· T-Shirts: $600
· Concessions: $350
· Insurance: $185
· Postage $95
· Trophies $1100
· Dinner afterwards $150
Many locations require insurance. Let me tell you this much: GET INSURED! People who participate in this sport know there is an inherent risk for great bodily harm and/or death. I personally have never witnessed an accident requiring a hospital trip but God forbid, they do happen. I remember when Tom O’Brien ran the first Escanaba Memorial Open, he found someone willing to underwrite this type of event but for an outrageous amount of money. I spent about 2 days searching on the net and making phone calls and found a place that even the cheapest of people couldn’t scoff at ;-). In Colorado, there is a company called “The Camp Team”, that specializes in sports camps, competitions, etc. For $3 a lifter, you are covered as well as any policy I’ve ever seen – including spectators, judges, spotters/loaders, and volunteers. The kicker is a $450 minimum annual premium. Basically you have to run a few meets per year to break even. I’ll include contact information at the end of this article. I can’t stress this enough – protect yourself.
I would have never tackled a meet by myself. Jim Harbourne and I work very well together and rely on each other for quite a bit. As you can see there’s a lot of work that goes into running a meet, and it’s easier when responsibilities are shared. I also have to mention our wives who both help out and quite honestly without them, it would have been disastrous.
The Camp Team (Bob Leid Agencey & Associates)
Attn: John Stevens
7615 W. 38th Ave
Suite B 109
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033