Things a College Athlete Should Know Before Starting Competitive CrossFit
(1) Your Sport Will Leave You with Holes
Unlike all other college sports, CrossFit tests an array of physical qualities.
If you were a swimmer, you only had to swim certain strokes or distances. If you ran the 1500m on the Track team, you also weren’t asked to throw shot put.
My point is an athlete’s athletic history allows them to fall back on certain capacities and movements they have spent a ton of time developing. However, every athlete entering CrossFit will have something they are bad at.
In fact, at the beginning, there will likely only be one or two areas that you find yourself leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors in, and all the other items will lag behind.
Fully anticipate spending nearly all your time developing your limiters: the things you didn’t need to be good at for your sport that will be the hardest and take the most time to improve.
(2) Athleticism Will Accelerate Your Skill Development
Truthfully, there’s a subsection of CrossFit competitors out there who have great fitness and move well, yet don’t have an athletic bone in their body.
They can hide behind strength or capacity a lot of the time, but when asked to do certain movements or novel tasks, they get exposed.
I like to think of athleticism as the ability to pick up new skills quickly and sharpen existing ones in little time.
Certain sports require more “athleticism” than others. For example, a soccer player likely has better foot-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and reaction time than a mid-distance runner.
Leverage your past experiences to master new movements quickly.
(3) Your Lifestyle Factors Still Support Adaptation
It’s important to remember that while you’re entering a new sport, the only thing that is changing is the task.
Your life outside of your training sessions should mirror your training in your collegiate sporting days …assuming this didn’t mean parties and pulling all-nighters.
The cornerstone habits that supported your performance through your college years will be even more important as you enter this new phase of life: sleep hygiene, quality nutrition, hydration status, monitoring readiness to train, watching film, etc.
(4) Soft Skills Trump Specific Experience
Soft skills are non-technical skills that impact your performance.
Whether you realized it or not, the process of chasing down your best performance has resulted in some helpful “side effects.”
Delayed Gratification: You know how to work for long periods of time without a payout.
Discipline: You show up even when motivation is low because it’s what you do.
Grit: You are willing to keep working and stay mentally tough when others give in.
Persistence: You understand that failure is a necessary part of the growth process.
Your experiences in sport have molded you into who you are today. You will carry those experiences & skills into your new sport, putting you ahead of others on what is the battleground of the mind.
Related: Leveraging Positive Self-Talk
(5) Not All Support Systems Need to Change
Much like basic lifestyle guidelines and healthy habits that support your ability to train hard over the long-term, if you want to be in the game for the long haul you must have others deeply invested in your performance.
The friends and family members who were crucial to your emotional wellbeing throughout a grueling season will be needed now more than ever.
However, there’s one dramatic shift to consider…you have lost the technical expertise of your coaching staff.
Your college coach -love them or hate them- was likely crucial in any success (or lack thereof) in your university years. And consider the fact that this person was coaching you in a sport that you likely had been playing for over a decade.
How much more will you need a coach to help you navigate a completely new sport?
Learning new movements, finding the best way to structure your training, laying out a competitive season, determining how often to compete & which competitions to pursue…
You can do the sport on your own…a lot of people do.
A coach in CrossFit is optional.
But then, so is your success.
. . .