What I Learned From Running the Largest CrossFit Competitions.

I’ve run a lot of my own competitions, but I’ve also done them as a professional. While the differences vary greatly between amateur and pro-level events,  I’ve learned something from each of them, and want to pass that on to you.

Here’s a quick rundown of some involvement I’ve had. (So you know I’m not another washed-up regional hopeful turned keyboard warrior)

  • 2014 CrossFit North Central Regional Judge
  • 2015 CrossFit Central Super-Regional Lead Judge
  • 2016 CrossFit Central Super-Regional Judge Captian
  • 2015-2016 CrossFit Games Submission/Penalty Review Judge
  • 2016-2017 Granite Games Championship Head Judge
  • 2012-2020 About 18 of my own events ranging from 60-130 athletes.

I’ll cover my three biggest take-aways that any beginner or experienced athlete can use when attending these events, big or small.

  1. Mindset
  2. Prep
  3. Competing + Judges (and how to work with them)

Step 1/3 Mindset

Your Mindset.

Mindset comes first because it influences everything. I mean everything. How you prepare and train leading up to an event, your attitude when things don’t go as planned, and even how you treat others the day of the event and decompress and reflect on lessons after.

Leading up to the event:

Are you holding yourself accountable for solid form and missed reps? Even when no one is looking?

Are you practicing a growth mindset and accepting constructive criticism from coaches with positivity and taking action on it?

When someone takes your favorite grippy bar in the middle of a session, do you dwell on the less than perfect circumstances? Or do you accept them, and move to another bar and keep pumpig out reps?

These things show when someone takes the floor at an event. Those who’ve worked on their mindset are often having a good time and even at the front of the pack. Not because everything is going their way, but because they’ve practiced what to do when things don’t.

People like Ben Bergeron refer to this as character. He and I echo each other here. Faster or heavier is not better. Better is better, and better starts at the core. Day in, and day out, well before signing up for an event. Training your mind is not done so you can win, it’s done because it’s the virtuous thing to do. It echos further than sets and reps.

My three chapters in my mindset are this:

  1. I control what I control.
  2. Wear a smile.
  3. Make a list.

I control What I Control

There’s a lot of moving parts to fitness competitions that you won’t have any control over.

  • Thousands of lbs of equipment to be moved on a timeline and may be misplaced.
  • Newer judges may questionably no-rep you.
  • Newer judges may bro-rep others.
  • Other athletes push the limits of acceptable movent and behavior.
  • Weather. Welcome to Arkansas!
  • Sprains and strains.
  • Delays and Setbacks

It’s best to let most of (if not, all) things go before the event. They don’t matter. They’re going to happen. What matters is what you do when they happen.

Some of the things you do have control over are:

  • Your training in the months (and years) leading up to events
  • Your character while training, (did you really lockout every thruster?) It’ll show on game day.
  • Your sleep during the week leading up to the event
  • Your nutrition and recovery at the event
  • Your mindset when things are going haywire
  • Your attitude towards others
  • Your reps, no one else’s

My focus stays on what I can control for two main reasons.

1) Focusing on what I cannot control, slows me down. It’s going to slow you down. The faster you can refocus your efforts on what’s in front of you, you can own it and work it.

That’s why I don’t focus on another team’s performance or a no-rep I didn’t deserve. I can’t affect either. Focusing on them will only slow me down.

2) When I let go of the things I can’t control, I let go of the negativity attached to them. A person with positive mental make-up is going to perform better than if they were ruminating on negative emotions. Personally, I want to have fun and that’s entirely up to me to do. It just so happens that a winning attitude is also the attitude to have a lot of fun.

Wear a Smile.

Remember that these events are for fun. The winners get protein powder most of the time.

I remember getting stiffed out of first place at a comp. My partner and I had a huge lead and were waiting for our names to be called for first place at the end of the event, and then… they called us for second.

When we heard our team name I could see my parters face turn to disappointment. I punched him in the titty and said “fuck yeah!” and threw a big smile on my face as if to tell him “this doesn’t matter, what we do next does.” He got the idea. We got to stand on some plyo boxes with our friends who got first and you couldn’t picture a happier group.

Dance to warm up, heckle your friends before they hit the floor to relax them. You’ll have memories from this day, shouldn’t they be good ones?

Make a List

    1. Speaking of memories, take a sheet a paper and write out the 5 things you want to be remembered for at the event. What kind of athlete will you be known as? Here is mine.
      • The most fun to be on a team with.
      • The friendliest athlete to the volunteers.
      • I always cheered on others when I finished a workout.
      • Good vibes only, never complain, never back-talk a judge.
      • Helpful to newer athletes

If you can walk into an event with your list in mind (and in your gym bag) then it’s much harder for you to have a bad time or get derailed and caught up in the little things that some people end up making a bad time over.

If you hit all of these things, it doesn’t matter if a judge calls 3 no-reps on you in a row, or that you miss a lift. You’re the most powerful person on that arena floor.

I’ll write to you tomorrow about prepping for the event. Food, training, sleep, and more. Just remember that everything that comes after mindset only amplifies your mindset. It starts here and expands out.

Wow, I sounded serious in this post.


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