WHY STAGE ETIQUETTE AND COMPETITION MANNERS STILL MATTER
“In the beginning, there was bodybuilding, and within bodybuilding, there were friendly rivalries – and it was good.” Ah, the good old days when bodybuilders were genuine friends, fought each other for victory and helped each other compete to be the best. Times have changed. Today, bodybuilding is more about winning at all costs.
That doesn’t mean etiquette and professionalism don’t still rule. In fact, if you listen to the private conversations of judges at the top contests, you realize they’re even more important than ever. Your conduct with your fellow competitors matters more than you realize. It influences your scores and placing in contests, and it earns you a reputation that can help or hinder you for competitions to come. Here are seven top tips, mined from behind-the-scenes conversations with the top judges at the top contests. This is a wish list of what competitors should bring to the stage, as well as a rap sheet of their top blunders.
By the time you decide to compete, it’s expected that you can pose correctly and respond to the judges’ instructions. It’s remarkable, then, how many bodybuilders simply lack the ability to properly execute the most fundamental poses.
In fact, the situation has become so dire in recent years that one top judge at the Mr. Olympia was overheard asking, “Is it too much to ask these guys to simply give us the right pose when we ask for it?!”
A massive, outstanding physique goes only so far. Failing to execute the called-for pose suggests a fundamental lack of skill that demonstrates that you didn’t care enough to master the basics of competition. Or worse, the judges think you’re disregarding their authority. Master poses by practicing every day. By doing this, you’ll ensure that your physique receives a fair appraisal next to your competitors.
You need to present yourself in the best possible light. Show up on competition day prepared. Make sure that you’re clean-shaven over your entire body. Make sure that you’re not emitting odors. Shower prior to the show, and because it’s a long day, clean up as needed between the morning and evening shows. When you’re going onstage, ensure that you don’t overdo the posing oil. Avoid the use of scented products that can irritate the judges and your fellow competitors.
Don’t make a mess
Competition takes a lot of preparation and work, and though the use of towels, posing oil, workout bands and more can get messy at times, it’s incumbent upon you to show respect by keeping your assigned area as clean and organized as possible. Make sure that someone else doesn’t have to clean up your mess, because word gets around and you’ll forever have people talking about you in all the wrong ways. And don’t kid yourself: The stage manager and the judges talk, and they will always find out if there are any backstage issues with competitors.
While the old days of bodybuilding are often idealized, not all was perfect. In fact, many competitors would use dirty tricks to throw off the competitors they liked the least. One of these tricks was stealing key items such as posing oil or towels at key times.
But those days are over. Whereas such actions were generally overlooked in the old days, today they’re grounds for disqualification and a ban from competition. Not only will messing with other competitors get you booted from the show, but it might even land you in a cell downtown. And if you’re ever allowed to return to competition, your reputation as a thief will stay with you forever.
If asked for help, give it
In today’s bodybuilding world, there’s a tendency toward the “dog eat dog” mentality – and this is a huge departure from the old days of genuinely friendly competition and rivalry. It used to be that you hoped to beat your training partner, but if you didn’t, you hoped he beat the guy who beat you, and you tried to help him do it. Not so anymore. Today, it seems there is no other goal than winning. It’s as if friendship and camaraderie are an afterthought.
If you want to be the consummate professional who is thought of as a winner, you need to be different. Often, bodybuilders backstage will ask for help from other bodybuilders, and it’s a good idea to be as fair and friendly to your fellow competitors as possible, simply because you don’t know when you will need their help in the future. So, if fellow athletes ask you to apply bronzer or oil, help them if you can. If you do give them help, be sure to actually help them – don’t sabotage them by applying too little or too much bronzer or oil, or through any other tricks.
Be polite onstage
Often, in the attempt to be seen, bodybuilders may interrupt each other’s posing routines, and this is especially true in the free-for-all posing rounds. Some bodybuilders go so far as stepping in front of others. This does increase their visibility, but negatively. Most judges consider this kind of behavior rude, and do you really want to generate negative feeling from the people who pick the winners?
Be polite onstage. The fact is that the judging table already has a full view of the competitors onstage. If they want to do further comparisons, they’ll call out the bodybuilders they want. Don’t interrupt their evaluation process, thinking that it will score you more points. It won’t. Being rude will only cost you points, as well as the respect of your fellow competitors and the judges.
By being the consummate professional, you’ll make the judges remember you, and you’ll make their view of you a good one – making it more likely that they’ll want to see more.
Take your time – not someone else’s
At shows, you’re entitled to the stage time given to you and that’s all. Some bodybuilders forget this and try to stay onstage long after their number is up. Don’t be one of them. What it costs you in your scoring totals isn’t worth the extra five seconds of limelight.
The judges give you the amount of time they need to make a fair judgment – no less and no more. Therefore, when your time is up, exit the stage. Staying on longer will only anger the judges and your fellow bodybuilders, and will leave you looking desperate and unprofessional.