Open Letter to Highland Games Newbs/Noobs

According to the Urban Dictionary, there is a marked difference between Newb and Noob.

Defining ‘Noob’
Contrary to the belief of many, a noob/n00b and a newbie/newb are not the same thing. Newbs are those who are new to some task* and are very beginner at it, possibly a little overconfident about it, but they are willing to learn and fix their errors to move out of that stage. n00bs, on the other hand, know little and have no will to learn any more. They expect people to do the work for them and then expect to get praised about it, and make up a unique species of their own.

Noobs are often referred to as n00bs as a sign of disrespect toward them, and it’s often hella funny.

Behavior of noobs
Since noobs are basically ignorant bastards, they have a lot in common. The most often seen characteristic is their fluency in noobish, which is why it got its own section. They will also be very self confident as if they were the absolute best at what they are in fact the worst at. Also, they are quite agressive and self-centered, and tend to laugh a lot using many L’s and O’s in rapid sucession (the noobish word for laughing like an ultimate retard).

Keep that in mind. In general, I’m not a fan of “Open Letter to…” posts. They’re usually preaching to the choir and so glaringly fucking obvious, why even write one. But the Bigg guy is on the road; I’m done working for the day, and am finding that there are way too many commercials during American Ninja Warrior so I’ll give it a try and see how it turns out.

Dear Highland Games Newb (you get the benefit of the doubt from the start. If your status changes to ‘Noob’ by the end of that day, take note. It’s not really a good thing),

Welcome to the Highland Games. We understand when you say that you want to give it a try because it looks like we have so much fun doing it. You’re right. We’re having a blast. The laughter and trash talk you see and hear are real. It may very well be that the friends you meet doing the Games will be some of the most important people in your life. I hope that for you.

Your job today is not to throw far. If you do, awesome. I will then assume you have some type of throwing and athletic experience and quite honestly, my expectations for you will be raised slightly as I assume now that you know how to behave in a sporting scenario. This letter probably isn’t for you but I’d read it anyway ‘cuz I’m entertaining A.F.

Your job today is to gain an understanding of what this crazy sport called HEAVY EVENTS is all about. Your job today is to learn to “push” a stone instead of throw it like a softball. Your job today is to put a weight in your hand that hangs from a chain; turn a little bit, and stay on your feet while you toss it forward. That’s it. Yes, it’ll feel weird. That’s okay. It’ll come.

Your job today is to learn how to safely bail out from this telephone pole looking thing that you see others picking up and running and throwing it in the air. If you do that today, awesome. But really, just be safe.

Now, be warned, you’re going to get a lot of advice today. Everyone on that field means well, but know this: 75% of the advice you receive today will be wrong. It will be confusing as fuck and most importantly of all, it will come from people who don’t throw far. So here is my advice and in my opinion (my blog, my opinion) some of the most important advice of all: watch closely to the people throwing the furthest in your group. Align yourself to them. Follow them. After they’ve taken a turn, give them a moment to recover and then ask a question as to how in the hell they do that. They will help. I promise. This is the help you want. Don’t pepper them with tons of questions, they will give you the one, mayyyyyybe two highest priority items to work on and just shut up and do that. Thank them and watch.

Now, as I said, others will want to give you advice. Again, they mean well. But you’ve just seen that they threw the stone close to twenty feet less than that first girl. Common sense says that if they don’t throw as far, they may not know something vital that the person who throws far knows. Fucking duh.  I know, you want to be nice and take ALL the advice. Don’t do that. You don’t need ALL the advice today. You just need a little cue and you’ll take it from there. After all, you showed up to compete in a very technical strength sport. You’ve already proven that you have courage and some confidence in yourself to step up. That’s a good thing. You’ll be fine.

There are going to be things that are kinda scary out here today. You’ll be fine. We’re going to make sure you’ll be fine. Just dive in. Taking a few minutes before each attempt because you’re too scared to just throw will be understood initially by your fellow competitors. But get over it, the quicker the better. A large portion of what you will learn over time in this sport is how to behave on the field and while it’s important to do your best with each toss, you won’t want to make your companions wait for a sum total of 20 or more minutes for you to do your thang throughout the day. Just dive in. You’ll be fine.

Now, here’s where things get a bit tricky. Pay close attention. You’re going to see some of the “veterans” behave in some ways that will seem funny. They may give the judge a hard time. They may take their kilt off and complain that it’s a huge pain in the ass to wear it. They may sit under a tent until their name is called and while the rest of the group will continue to bake out in the hot sun they mosey on out to the field for their attempt. You may see them throw temper tantrums after a throw they think is bad but you think is amazing. They may be completely absorbed in their own throws and not pay attention to when they need to shag an implement or whom they follow. You may not see them support their fellow competitors.

Know this now: THIS IS NOT FUCKING COOL. Don’t do this. Ever. First off, if you see a competitor give a judge a hard time or even see the judge give a competitor a hard time it’s likely because they have history and believe me, the athlete to judge trash talk will be kept to a minimum because they know how to show respect. Do not ever snap at a judge. Ever. If he tells you that you need to be ready for your turn on the 9th event after competing for over 8 hours, you say, “yes sir. Sorry about that.” And then you be ready to go. You don’t snap at them and say, “you only had to wait a few seconds. It’s fine.” Don’t do that even if someone else did. They are wrong to do so. But again, just watch to where the top athletes are hanging. It is likely they are right next to the trig or the uprights ready to go on their next turn. Just do like that. You’ll be fine.

Also, do not complain. About anything. Do not complain that the stone is too heavy. Do not complain that the Weight Over Bar is starting too high. Do not complain that you are competing with some of the top throwers and it’s not fair that you’re in the same class. You have volunteered to participate in a sport called HEAVY EVENTS. So, ya know, shit’s heavy. If your judge says there’s no time for a lunch break, you shut the fuck up, grab a snack you brought on the way to the next event and do your best.

You say THANK YOU about 420 times throughout the day. You thank your judge. You thank the girl or guy who brings you your implement. You thank the AD. You thank your fellow competitors. You thank the kid who brings you an ice cold water. You thank the kid who brings you a lukewarm water. You thank the people watching. You thank the dude at the port-0-potty who lets you go first because they know you need to get back to the field. You thank the woman at the gate who says, “Good luck!”

Most importantly, you behave in such a way that the AD is asking you to come back before the dust even settles from the day. You behave in such a way that those girls who were throwing the amazing throws (even if they didn’t think so) tell you that it was a joy having you on the field all day. Separate yourselves from those throwing negative energy around.

And at the end of the day, don’t be afraid to ask a few more questions. What to do moving forward. What you saw that didn’t make sense. What you can do to be helpful to the AD. And then say thank you, just one more time. Heh.

I hope you had fun today. I’m probably glad you came. Being a Newb is temporary. Being a Noob is tougher to shake. Just avoid that altogether. Yes?

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.

Michael Jordan

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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