Competitions can say a lot about a person, whether it be a charity WOD, a weightlifting meet, a CrossFit competition, or the CrossFit Open and Games. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the downright hideous of competitions and how they can affect people.
Competitions are always a great way to get out of your comfort zone and to test yourself. If ever you are questioning what weaknesses lie in your fitness or discipline, sign up for a competition and you’re likely to learn real fast. CrossFit competitions are good at testing a broad range of fitness, from cardio to weightlifting to gymnastic movements. If you have a weakness, chances are it will be exposed by the competition’s end, which will let you know what to work on next!
Exposing weaknesses should be a good thing. Anytime we can learn a weakness and grow from it, we should be excited and ready to attack it. However, some people will avoid a weakness of theirs after a competition, like the plague. While exposing and working on weaknesses is good, it will rarely ever be easy. It takes strong character to look for and work on weaknesses; and it takes even stronger character to step back out onto the competition floor to test yourself again.
We are lucky enough to be involved in two of the greatest sports communities around, CrossFit and weightlifting. The community involved is always encouraging and fun to be around. This is most evident at a charity competition. People come together to support a great cause with no care for any placement or podium finish, instead supporting the community.
We’ve seen both of these people before at competitions. You have the one who kills every scaled competition they sign up for who obviously has every skill needed to be in the RX division, and then you have the person who clearly should be in the scaled division but instead struggles through every workout hitting the time cap before they even get half way through the workout. To the scaled division warrior, winning isn’t that important. You want to impress people challenge yourself and sign up for the RX division. To the one who should really consider signing up for the scaled division, while I commend you for your courage and determination, there is no shame in signing up for scaled when it’s where you’re at fitness level wise. To the both of y’all, take a look in the mirror and be honest with yourselves.
The hardest thing about a competition is the mental side of them. Our training leading up to them can be filled with gain after gain, PR after PR; but come game time we choke. People tend to put more pressure on themselves when a competition comes around as they feel they have to put up a certain number or performance. Under this pressure, some people can crumble. This is probably one of the biggest weaknesses a competition can expose. But just as any other weakness, one can work on and improve their mental game.
While the main point of a competition is to see who is the best, I’m not entirely convinced that is the case for a charity WOD. Charity competitions are put on with a purpose in mind – to raise money for a cause or to bring awareness to it. Nevertheless, there is almost always that one person there who has come to seek and destroy every other participant. They try to take the spotlight and turn it away from the cause, turning the focus on themselves and their performance. Then they make their domination of all other competitors known to all. While the phrase “charity competition” has the word competition in it, that is not its main focus. They’re meant to bring the community together focusing on a great cause.
Competitions are just a whole lot of fun! It’s always great to put in work, go to a competition, throw down with other awesome athletes, and see where we stack up against others. Competition is one of the greatest driving forces for us to push our limits and capabilities physically. The adrenaline rushes we can get from a competition push us to new personal records; we perform better than we could have ever imagined.
CrossFit competitions typically have options when you sign up, most giving the option of either RX or scaled. If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I’ll do a competition when I can do it RX,” then I’d buy the CrossFit company from Greg Glassman himself! If you have any interest in doing a competition and there is a scale option that better suits where you’re at in your fitness journey, then go for it.
The equivalent in weightlifting is, “I’ll compete when I can win.” Most current champions in the sport were a work in progress, and started competing years ago, building experience and learning along the way. Don’t expect to come to your first competition and win; use it as a learning experience, and as a stepping stone onto bettering yourself.
Whether you are at a scaled or RX competition, at the top or bottom of the standings, it is a chance to gain experience and learn about yourself. Start the learning process now!
Not to sound discouraging, but chances are you’re not going win. Simply put, each competition only has one winner, so the odds are stacked against you from the start. Unless your name is Matt Fraser or Rich Froning, you’re going to find a lot of people who are better than you. When you find these people and eventually lose to them, how you react is all up to you. There is no need to be a sore loser about it. As long as you gave your best effort, then you have nothing to be ashamed about. Hold your head high, give credit to those better than you, figure out what you can do better, and work your weaknesses for the next go around. But remember to react positively when faced with a loss; learn from it and grow from it.
It’s important to say that not everyone has to do competitions. If your only goal from doing CrossFit is to be in better shape, then you should never feel pressured to do a competition by anyone, whether it be your coach or friends at the gym.
Competitions aren’t for everyone. While they can bring out the best in a person, they can also bring out some of the worst. If you are a competitor or plan on doing a competition in the future, regardless of what type of competition or what division you may sign up for, remember that no matter what is going on around you, the only thing you can control is yourself and how you perform and react to what comes your way. Remember that and to have fun! And always, CrossFit responsibly!
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