The "bell curve" or inverted U is just an illustration or model. It does not show how each individual dials in arousal.
The problem with most articles about arousal and focus is that they are simply based on opinion, not on solid research, practical experience, and results. Aggression, which is first cousin to anger, by it's very nature, is a deflecting emotion. Controlling aggression is a silly concept even when not lifting.
You do not 'control aggression' because if you control it, it is no longer aggression. You either act on it or you do not. If I want to hit you in the face I am having angry and aggressive thoughts but I am NOT aggressive until I actually hit you. If I do not hit you I did not control aggression I simply never became aggressive. Aggression describes a type of behavior. It doesn't matter if I'm using my fists or other weapon, using words, or using some kind of mental humiliation tactic, I am being aggressive if I act against another person not simply if I feel like I want to hit or kick something.
Focusing your efforts on 'controlled aggression' then, is like focusing your efforts on a stray thought or emotion. If I want to hit you in the face, and I try to 'control' that I am only controlling my thoughts and emotions not my actions. By the time I GET aggressive I am already OUT OF CONTROL.
People also need to remember that being aggressive is not the same thing as being confident and ASSERTIVE.
The failure here, and with other articles like it, is the failure to try to define JUST what it is to be in a state of controlled arousal. An upside down U does not tell you what it is and saying it's controlled aggression does not describe the physiological and psychological characteristics that make up this state. No parameters…no point.
Any article that wants to be about arousal MUST discuss anxiety. That is at the heart of it. All the talk about aggression and nothing about anxiety is like spending 20 minutes grating Parmesan cheese but forgetting to make your sauce.
I used Csikszentmilyi's elements of flow to get started as I think they best define the state of "being in the zone" or "flow". We can tease out the problems easily by using these elements.
Firstly, the level of technical difficulty in your chosen skill is going to influence how much arousal you need.
First, firstly is not a word, lol. Second, is the first element:
Balance of skill and challenge
Part of achieving the "perfect storm" of arousal regulation is that the challenge must be worthy of the skill. The work you've put into it, etc. It is NOT about having more or less arousal for different things depending on how technical they are. You do not have to "regulate arousal" for tasks that do not present a challenge! It would make no sense to worry about arousal during a bunch of biceps curls and like wise, if you're doing squats at a level that does not present much of a challenge, your arousal level will not greatly influence your success. Why even talk about it?
So whether it is Olympic lifts, or maximal squats or deadlift, despite the differences in technicality, the CHALLENGE is equal, just in different ways. This in itself drives one to develop a state of flow, which is a state of "perfectly regulated arousal".
The statement that an Olympic lifter must be less aroused than a powerlifter because of the difficulty level is erroneous. Arousal levels fall on an individual basis and you can't make a chart for it. The powerlifter can benefit from the same tools as an Olympic lifter, and vice versa. These statements come from mistaken observations. Many very successful powerlifters display a very heightened arousal state before successful lifts. Whereas not many Olympic lifters do. However, if you saw 2 out of 20 Olympic lifters jumping around, slapping themselves on the upper arms, stalking, yelling, etc. before a lift, you would remember those lifters and display the same selection bias as this article displays concerning powerlifters. There is no one level of arousal that is necessary for each and every powerlifter and there is no one level that is necessary for every O'lifter.
The rest about the deadlift versus the squat and how technical they each are versus the other is just oversimplifying things. First, I actually do not believe that the squat is more 'technical' than the deadlift and I do not know how such a statement can be supported. But much more goes into arousal than the technical skill level of the task, as I discuss in detail in the Zone series.
Merging of action and awareness
This is the second element and one of the operating characteristics of this one is that you do not seek to block or control thoughts. You do not dwell on our judge your emotional state or your thoughts. The fact that you are doing so means that you are NOT in the zone. The "act" of controlling aggression is all that we accomplish by seeking to control aggression. See the difference between the act of controlling something and an actual state of regulated arousal or "flow"?
Dancing around, slapping yourself upside the face, screaming, etc…
As I said in the first article "Hesitation is not usually a signal that you are READY for something. You may be prepared but there is anxiety there. When someone is in flow, there is not an outward manifestation of nervous energy such as this".
Yes, arousal or getting keyed up can be a part of it. But this kind of striving is not focusing energy as much as diffusing it.
Too much trying, not enough doing. My example was, of course, a car. When you push the gas the car doesn't try to go, it goes. The energy that you impart to the car via the gas pedal is FOCUSED energy. It's all focused on the car moving forward. Likewise, you must focus ALL energy on the task, which is lifting the bar, not on your mental state or level of aggressive feelings.