8 Tips To Prepare For a CrossFit Competition & Perform Your Best
Chances are at some point in your functional fitness career you are going to compete. Whether it’s your first, or you’re a seasoned competitor, there are a few mindsets you should encompass to ensure that you achieve what you set out to.
CrossFit Competition Time
Relax and Let Go of Your Expectations; you have nothing to prove.
First off, relax; don’t have any expectations going in. If you had to qualify for the CrossFit competition; ignore what position you qualified in. You qualified and that’s what counts.
If you qualified for this specific competition before, compare yourself to the last set of seeding scores. It's likely different people have qualified this time round and the only way to get a true reflection of your improvement is to compare to last time. Competitions are all about fun and showcasing what you are made of. Make sure you don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself as you are unlikely to perform to your full potential.
Be Fit and Healthy
There’s a fine line to be drawn between a niggle and an injury, especially when a CrossFit competition comes into play. Your ego might not let you pull out, or it can give you an unrealistic assessment of your injury. If in doubt pull out, due to the high-pressure situation you’re more likely to ignore any warning pain and cause yourself more damage than you went in with. There will always be another CrossFit competition and you can give yourself time to train for it.
In most CrossFit competitions, the workouts are released ahead of time, practice them. You’re going to need to know how the workouts feel and give yourself a rough idea of how to approach them on the day.
Then around 5-7 days before a competition, you want to start tapering your training down, dropping the volume and percentages of your programme, then depending on your personal preference give yourself 2-3 days full rest from training. This will allow your body to recover and recharge ready for the CrossFit competition. During those rest days it's wise to complete some mobility work to make sure you’re moving smoothly. Also complete some active recovery work, such as a light slow-paced bike or swim, something low impact.
On The Day
Beforehand, or if your coach is there on the day, have a discussion about how you’re going to approach each workout, where you plan to break or how long a row or run might take. It helps to have 2 or 3 different plans for each workout, One for if things are going better than planned, where you might push a bit harder. Two for if things are going to the plan, where you stick to a solid performance you know you can achieve. Three for a minimum workload you know you can achieve.
Attack each workout as if it’s the only one you’re doing that day, it's CrossFit competition time there is no saving yourself for the next workout, everyone has different strengths and weakness so make sure you gave it your all on each one.
Introduce yourself to the judge at the start of each workout, clarify any movement questions you have with the judge and thank them at the end of each one too. These guys are usually volunteers and crucial to how the event runs, they’ve probably been there longer than you have and they don’t have the fun of competing either. So make sure you treat them with the respect they deserve. If they no rep you, keep your cool and take the time to ask them what went wrong, not only is this then clear in your mind what needs to happen but gives you that extra rest to drop your HR and make sure the next few reps are on point.
Put your game face on, preferably a smile, it’s likely to pass from person to person and up the atmosphere. Not only this but in a middle of a competition, when workouts are usually designed to hurt if someone looks across and sees you smiling it's likely to psych them out.
Ignore the Leader Board
Allow yourself to feel but only for a few minutes, whether a workout went good or bad, you’re allowed to celebrate or wallow for 2-5 minutes, anything more than that and you’re just wasting much-needed energy. So calm yourself down and start focussing on the next event. The only time to look at the leaderboard is in semi-finals or just before the finals itself. This allows you to switch off to unnecessary pressure or stress until the last moment when you might need that extra kick.
Studies into performance anxiety have shown some interesting results when it comes to having an audience and who it’s comprised of. Having an audience, as you undoubtedly will, can have varying effects. If the audience is active and encouraging, then your performance can increase by 5-10% this increases by up to an additional 5% if that audience has people who you perceive to have a vested interest in your performance, I.E friends and family. However, if you perceive the crowd to be indifferent or actively negative then your performance can drop by the same 5-10%. The best ways to combat this effect is to take yourself away from the crowd at least 10 minutes before a workout and go over your game plan. Envision the workout in detail with good form on every rep and successful outcome. After you have done this raise your heart rate for a minute, then bring it back under control for a few minutes, this will calm your nerves as well as encourage your body to flush any build op of lactic acid. Make sure you have fun and remember you’re likely not the only one from your box that’s competing so make sure you support them as much as they support you.
Nutrition and Sleep
Avoid caffeine like the plague, on competition day the large amounts of stress cause your adrenal glands to go into overdrive, you don’t want to add to these big ups and downs with caffeine highs and lows. Eat pretty much the same amount of food you would on any normal training day, just add in an extra 100 calories or so for each workout and try to eat directly after a workout, or an hour before. Make sure you’re getting an extra hours sleep than normal if possible, you CNS is going to be put through a lot of work and it's vital to make sure it's functioning optimally.
Take an extra day off, or two if needed to make sure you’re recovered. Again active recovery like swimming or a bike ride will do you wonders and get you functioning quicker. Give it a day or two for the feelings to settle and your training to get back to normal, then sit down with your coach and take away a few points to work on in the upcoming programme. This could be technique work or a hole in your game like short blast workouts, strength or gymnastics etc. Remember CrossFit Competitions are meant to demonstrate where we are in our journey, they aren’t the be all and end all. So have fun.
Author: Josh Golding
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