Wednesday, 21 February 2018

CrossFIt Open Performance Anxiety

By Zak Nothling, Renegade Performance Coach 

Performance anxiety in the bedroom, and in the gym.

Today I'm going to focus on performance anxiety in the gym.

We are one day out of the CrossFit Open. There is a mixed bag of feelings during this time of year around the gym. 

I have seen people get so worked up pre-open workout that they ruin the whole experience for themselves.

 Why do we get performance anxiety?

Some fears arise from previous experiences; something may have gone wrong in a workout or even long before, like during sport growing up or in high school PE class. 

Feelings like this can stick with us, and we may get anxiety from anything that resembles the situation. 

Often we don't want to be seen as the worst or last, which can be a very powerful deterrent. 

You may feel there is an expectation of you based on the "status" you hold at the gym. You may be the guy/girl that is always top of the leaderboard in the daily workout, or you're a coach and think that athletes won't respect you if you're not crushing every workout.  

A major one could be an expectation you've put on yourself. E.g., I want to finish top 500 in the open. 

I think for some of us it's due to our egos. I think we are so worried about what people are going to think about us, and how we did in a particular workout, that it affects our enjoyment and experience. 

How do we solve this problem?

The truth is we don't have to for the most part, as a CrossFit gym is the complete opposite. It's an environment where the last person gets the biggest applause. Even at the highest level, at the CrossFit games, when someone is struggling there is a room of athletes trying to help them finish the event. This isn't high school where kids are immature and will ridicule you for not being able to do something. If this is the case at your gym, cancel your membership and find a new one today. 

If the anxiety comes from being in a position of power, like being a coach, and you're worried an athlete you coach is going to do better than you, then you should stop coaching. Hang up the Nanos and knee sleeves, as you're obviously in the wrong position. Every time you get to coach, you get the opportunity to make someone better. Your goal should be to make them the best they can be, to help them see and reach their potential. 

If it's your ego that's putting the pressure on you, you've got to remember that you're the only one that is aware of this. What do you think is going to happen if you don't get a good score? Are other people going to talk behind your back and laugh at you? First of all, let me remind you that you're probably not that important - sorry if this is a shock to you. People live busy lives, the last thing they care about is your result in 18.1.

If you've put a placing expectation on yourself, how did you come to this goal? These expectations are usually arbitrary. You most likely pulled that number out of thin air. If you didn't, and it's a number that is an improvement on last year then, in my opinion, this is largely an uncomparable statistic. Every year the field not only grows, but it changes, so basing your success or failure on this is setting yourself up for an unhappy ending. I would recommend changing all your goals to process-driven goals. 

You have no reason to be anxious, butterflys before a workout are ok they will keep you on your toes. spot the differance and understand the root of where yours is coming from. 


  1. Thank you for the post. Take home message for me is to be yourself and focus on the process, not the destination.

    1. Glad you enjoyed Clark, Reach out if you need a hand with anything

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