This post is written by Janne, our talented Sport Psychology Consultant, that has helped us prepare for the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games.
(Photo: Jens Koch)
You can be the fastest, strongest and fittest athlete, but if you’re not mentally tough, the chances of performing at 100% are nonexistent.
The mental aspects are of great importance when it comes to CrossFit. First of all, you have to learn how to prepare for the unknown and second of all, you only have a short amount of time to show what you’ve got.
Mental toughness is about persistence and determination. It’s the ability to handle pressure and unknown challenges. The ability to maintain focus and control, and overcome fear and negative emotional states.
A mentally tough athlete is committed to an extent where quitting doesn’t exist.
You are not born mentally tough, just as you’re not born a CrossFit machine. It takes time, work and commitment to train your brain to overcome fear, performance anxiety, loss of control and so on..
Make your mental training one of your training priorities if you want to be a top level athlete!
Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare mentally for a competition:
Goal setting is an essential part of a competition plan. Make sure you have set both process and result goals. Your process goals can be a part of your physical training plan to help keep you motivated to work on skills, you find difficult.
Your result goals should contain a dream goal for motivation, such as reaching, for example top 20, 10, 5 or 3. Additionally, you should set other kinds of result goals as well, such as being able to do a workout unbroken, being able to keep a certain pace, or doing certain breathing techniques during a workout. These goals are important for your self- evaluation. Only you are in control of reaching these result goals, which means it depends on your performance and nothing else.
Result goals, such as being top 20, 10 or 5 are goals that are out of your control. You can have a top performance, but so can other athletes. You can’t prepare for how other athletes will perform, for luck, for weather, and so on.
So make sure that you have both kinds of goals; the ones that motivate you to perform 100%, and the ones that you can evaluate afterwards. This will give you the chance to feel successful, even if the dream goal isn’t achieved.
Many athletes spend a lot of time worrying about things that are out of their control. It is often devastating for their performance because 1) it creates performance anxiety and 2) focus is in the wrong place.
Make a list of what you are in control of, and what you are not in control of:
And so on..
Out of control:
The field/competition place
The opponents comments/physical appearance/etc
Other peoples attitude
And so on…
Have the list with you on the days prior to the competition and on game day, just to remind you where your focus should be. Whenever you start thinking or talking about something that’s out of your control, change the subject to something that you are in control of.
Make sure that you have your routines ready for the competition. Practice your routines, so that there are no surprises on the day(s) of competition. Food, sleep, activities the night before, activities in the morning, equipment, clothes, warm-up, mental preparation (for example: visualization, breathing control, relaxation techniques, self-talk etc). Make your own routines!
Analyze the workouts
Prepare mentally for the workouts as soon as you know them. Think them through. What are you challenges and what are your advantages? Set goals to deal with the challenges. Formulate strategies.
Remember to evaluate yourself. Did you reach the goals you set? If not, what went wrong? How can you improve on the things that didn’t go as expected? In order to improve, you have to evaluate. You always have to know what to work on, and how to do it. And most importantly, you have to evaluate yourself in order to give yourself the feeling of being successful!
If you need any help on your mental preparations, or have any questions related to the mental aspects of your training – feel free to contact me for advice either by phone or email.
Sport Psychology Consultant
Janne R. Mortensen
Phone: +45 61330467