Monday, October 26, 2015

What Not to Do Back Stage at a Contest, Lessons From a Coach

by Kris Pitcher

Competitors wonder what it will be like back stage. For first time competitors, it's a visual sea of wonder. There's so much going on, so many people, so much activity, and at the local and regional level often a buzz of anxiety and tension.

Organized chaos describes how expediters round up competitors getting them lined up to go on stage. The preparation prior to that can be anything from amusing to dangerous and all things in between. It's the ultimate people watching opportunity.

Gloved up and having fun back stage with Edie, Tawnya, & Ashley.
As the Coach's right hand woman, I spring into action back stage to handle all of the competitors on our team. I make sure their experience is stress free, they are ready to step on stage, in line and every detail is taken care of. I keep track of when they need to do their pump up protocol, eat, drink...all of that.

I am a National level competitor and have spent lots of time back stage, I've helped hundreds of clients back stage, as such I am qualified to share some things you should never do back stage.

  1. Don't put your bag on top of other people's bags. While there is LIMITED space, when you come and put your bag on top of mine I am going to have a really hard time accessing my supplies. I may find myself rummaging through your things which you may not appreciate. Find an empty corner. 
  2. Don't sit at my feet if you're not mine. I'm going to be doing "Twister" over the top of you if you come and sit at my feet and you are not my competitor. Think "safety circle" - please don't enter a coach's safety circle. My deodorant quit working 4 hours ago, and my butt is going to be right in your face when I get my supplies or help people get things from their bags. Safety. Circle.
  3. Don't eat candy off the floor. The floor back stage is not sanitary. This should not be news to you. I realize the candy is critical for you, you've been on a diet for some time now. But if I'm brutally honest, you look like you've been eating candy through your entire prep. It feeds your brain, not your muscles, and no one wants a "vascular" bikini competitor anyway. Learn about sugars. 
  4. Don't miss your division. This happens every contest. A competitor will be dropping "F" bombs because they were up in their room and missed their class. It is your responsibility to be an informed athlete. Never let this be you. Be back stage.
  5. Don't SNEAK back stage. Most promoters offer passes for trainers and coaches to access the back stage area to take care of their clients. Sneaking in diminishes you as a professional and is disrespectful to the sport, the promoter, and all the professionals who take their job seriously enough to follow protocol. It's bad business. If you are an actual coach write this expense off your taxes. 
  6. Don't hog the mirrors to pump up. When mirrors are provided you don't HAVE to stand in front of them to pump up. You've been working out a while, and posing a while and you probably know where you are in space. This is a great perk provided but it's silly when you can't pump up without it. 
  7. Don't leave all of your garbage behind. It's understandable when we forget things, but the big garbage cans are provided for your trash. Shows are put on by real people who recruit volunteers to help them. After a 20 hour day, it would be nice if there was less garbage back stage. Do your part to be a good competitor, take what you bring.
  8. Don't ask me for my stuff. I don't bring enough supplies for all the athletes in the entire show. I bring enough for our athletes. Where is your "coach"? Why aren't they taking care of you back stage? 
  9. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Do what you are supposed to do. You will see a lot of interesting behavior. A. Lot. If you've had some guidance, do that. If you haven't, don't worry about what you see, keep it simple. 
  10. Don't be a loner. Meet other people. This sport is fun. And if you are by yourself at a contest meet other people who will help you. People are nice. We WANT people to have a good experience and when I can help another athlete, I will. I can't help it. 
There are some back stage "don'ts" for you. Like it or lump it there is a flow or etiquette back stage. Your back stage experience begins with your personal preparation. We are really lucky in the Northwest, our promoters provide a great experience for us back stage.

Do your homework, be prepared, get some guidance. If you are working with a coach find out what they will provide for you the day of your contest. Will they be there? Will they be back stage? Will they prepare you for what to expect in that experience? Or will you be on your own...sitting at my feet? 

I you find yourself in that position, I will gently suggest you may not appreciate my twister moves over and around you. Don't be offended, I'm just in my safety circle. (*smile)


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