Tune in tonight to the Live streaming broadcast of The 2015 CrossFit Games Opens 15.1 announcement, then watch Four-Time CrossFit Games Champ Rich Froning go head to head with last year’s Second place athlete Matt Fraser. The workout they do, is exactly what you’ll do on Friday!!
Achieving “Full Effort Full Victory” Mentally
“In slow motion, the athletes eyes close and then re-open focusing back to the barbell. There are 70 seconds left in the 10 minute workout; the athlete is trying get air back into their lungs, and as soon as the air fills the lungs a violent exhale follows to ride the C02…The cycle continues, legs are heavy and burning, something inside is telling the athlete to slow down…Within that same split second the athlete has a choice to either give up or trust their training and see what they are capable of… Without hesitation the athlete notices this familiar anxiety and discomfort and brings themselves back to the present with self-talk … ‘Let’s go!’, ‘Earn it,’ ‘Power through!’ The athlete grabs the barbell; chalk and sweat fall below as the athlete continues reaching for more; Moving the barbell with purpose and metal fortitude.”
The depiction above is what I love about sport; Period. Over the years I have competed in many venues nationally and internationally and have come to understand the importance mental preparation: Your ability to focus rules for better or worse in high-level performance sports.
Focus in sport can be defined as “the ability to sustain effective and consistent attention on the task at hand, regardless of internal and external distractions.”
Performing your best against your competition all comes down to your mind.
Fitness, at the elite level, is a very small separator; the mind dictates who will be standing on the podium or attaining a personal best performance.
Don’t just take my word for it. Research by Gould, Eklund and Jackson has found that competition plans, as well as sticking to one’s routine, are key separators between Olympic Games medalists and non-medalists. Athletes who medaled had competition plans firmly in their minds and were not spontaneous or doubting of their strategies. Additionally, the researchers found thrat medalists had very systematic pre-competition performance routines they consistently adhered to throughout their Olympic experience. On the other hand, many non-medalists reported having spontaneous competition plans and regularly deviating from their pre-competition routines.
I encourage every competitive athlete to practice purposeful visualization before they compete as well as utilize pre-game routines and rituals on game day. Mental preparation isn’t going to improve your conditioning, however more importantly, it will allow you to draw the most from your current conditioning to become resilient when it counts and fulfilled when its over.
Three strategies I find useful for optimizing your mental game before an important event or competition, include:
1) NO Pressure in the PRESENT. What are you thinking about hours or moments before your compete? Are you nervous? Are you thinking about outcomes that haven’t happened yet (the future), or what results you had last year (the past)? When we think of the past or the future, it distracts us from what we are trying to accomplish NOW, and creates additional stress and anxiety that isn’t helpful. When we are not present, anything can pull us away from our focus. I challenge you to check in with yourself and your thoughts before competition. Keep your thoughts on your game plan and YOU, stay present and feel the pressure pass through you.
2) Find your Super Pilot. Set your day up so you can be on Auto-pilot (AKA Super Pilot!). To find your ‘Super Pilot’, prepare your mind and body beforehand. Start with solid visualization. This can be practiced week out if you know your event or the night before or the morning. Visualization takes practice, and more practice, but do it until you see and feel yourself completing the event perfectly. Visualization is a powerful tool that gives your mind and body a chance to connect and rehearse the EXACT feeling you want to have during the event. You will find, with good visualization practice, that your mind and body can just ‘let go’ and do what it have been shown. Secondly, what are your rituals, favorite shoes, music and pre comp foods? Set those out to be ready to go for game day. Having less to think about and do on competition day always feels good. Create a routine you have control over, so if anything happens that you didn’t plan for, you can find comfort in your preparedness.
3) The Struggle makes it Special. If you have put in the reps and the training all year, then the struggle is something you are familiar with. Competition is an opportunity to bring your best to the table, and learn more about yourself. Great athletes are addicted to the strong sensation of discomfort, in the search for a deeper sense of self. Embrace the pain.
A: Back Squat @ 20X1; 2-3 reps with good sped and intent; rest 2 minutes X 3.
B: Power Tech work- 5-7 minutes. Good mechanics and good speed.
30 second row or Airdyne 1 minute at moderate/sustainable pace; rest 1 minute X 4.
Additional mobility work as needed.