BoxLife Magazine

Fear is in the Mind: 7 tips to overcome fear at the box

By Dawn Fletcher

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March 4, 2014

As a CrossFitter, there are many things you may fear: poor results, failing a lift, letting your coach down, or embarrassment. You may be afraid of pain, discomfort or challenge. These fears could prevent you from being your absolute best. Fear keeps athletes from pushing their limits and hitting their goals. At some point you’ll have to make a choice. Will you let your fear overcome and consume you, or will you accept those fears and push to overcome them? Let’s make sure that your doubts, worries and fears don’t keep you from becoming the best version of you!

As you’re setting up to do a new movement or big lift, you may begin to feel fear. Many times athletes are afraid of certain lifts, or WODs, because they are trying something new or going for a PR. If you begin to focus on your fears, you will lose sight of everything you need to do to be successful. This negative thinking creates even more anxiety and stress, causing you to doubt your ability to perform. Some athletes even stop before they start, because they have allowed themselves to become consumed by fear. Have you ever been there?

To begin overcoming your fear, you must first accept its presence and that it is, in fact, a limitation. You must confront it to move past it. Make sure that you get to the root of the fear and really think about what you are afraid of and why. When you work from the root of the fear, it will help you to understand yourself and then, you can start working through it. It’s important that you understand sometimes you just need to tell yourself to shut-up, grab that bar and get moving. Other fears of movements may take some time to work through. Overcoming fear is often a process, just like your training.

“I think the biggest fears I have are not achieving the goals I have personally set for myself—(whether) it be going unbroken (in) a movement, getting a certain time on a workout or just where I want to place.” – Lindsey Valenzuela

Tips to Overcome Your Fear of a Particular Movement or WOD

1. Write it out - Keep track of your emotions and thoughts when you get to “sicky” points in your progressions. Make sure to keep track of the positive milestones you hit as well. It is important to recognize success as well as struggle.

2. Get a coach involved - Make sure this is someone you trust and can easily verbalize thoughts and feelings to. They have experience and have helped many athletes before and if you let them, they will be able to help you too.

3. Visualize success - Take some time to close your eyes, picturing and feeling yourself successfully completing the movement(s).

4. Break it down - Start with something very simple that you know that you can do successfully. Maybe it’s a lighter lift or a modified version of a movement. Do some reps at something you feel confident with before leading up to something that you feel afraid of.

5.Take and watch video –  Watch video of others crushing the movement or WOD that you’re afraid of. Seeing yourself and others successfully complete a movement is incredibly powerful and reinforces good habits and confidence.

6. Focus on cues & mantras - Repeat the mantras that keep you pushing when things get tough. Remind yourself of one or two basic cues that you need to focus on in order to keep your form on point.

7. Practice a few “mess-ups” –  Ideally, you would have practiced this in your training WODs, well before you compete. For example, if you’re about to do a barbell movement, you should absolutely make sure that you’ve practiced dumping the bar safely. You’ll gain confidence in knowing how to correctly fail the reps so that it won’t have to cross your mind when it’s go-time.

At the end of the day, I want you to know something. Having some doubt tells you a couple things to about yourself. If you have fear when it comes to trying a new movement or attempting a PR, it means something truly powerful. You have taken steps to improving yourself and becoming better at something. You are attempting to push past your previous limits, and you care deeply about what you are doing. That says more about you than anything else. You are somebody that is driven, and that will allow you to reach new heights over and over again. So the next time you can sense fear during a big lift or a tough WOD, just take a minute, accept it, and tell yourself, “this will make me better!”

Authors: Dawn Fletcher of MentalityWOD.com and Anna Luber

Dawn Fletcher

About Dawn Fletcher

Dawn Fletcher, MA CSCS CrossFit Coach is a Fitness and Sport Performance Coach who is committed to helping people get the most out of themselves. As the founder of MentalityWOD.com, her passion is helping people get to the next level, by teaching them how to improve their mentality and fitness. She removes the psychobabble and nerdy talk often found in sport psychology and gives you only the most important strategies to help you improve in every area of your training and life. View all posts by Dawn Fletcher →

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