Playing for Greatness

The Importance of Randomness in Training.

Wake up, eat, work out, eat, work at a desk, eat, work out again, eat, sleep, repeat.

Sometimes being an adult can feel like a never ending session on a treadmill (when you start picturing a hamster wheel it’s time to stop); so if you’re feeling the pressure of constantly being on-point, effective, productive, first in every WOD and PBing every lift – maybe it’s time to channel your inner child, have some fun and be a little silly.  

FIRST COMES STRUCTURE, THEN PLAY

CrossFit classes are very structured by design. Coaches generally insist on neat, safe work spaces, and all movements are done with good technique and the utmost control in mind. This is essential in safeguarding against injuries while maximising the transfer of skills.

However, if we take a moment to consider how schools maximise learning, an essential training element is revealed… break time! Even as adults, we still need a little breakout time; time to run wild, act the fool, use your equipment for ‘non-recognised movements’ and attempt new dance moves to the latest Box playlist.    

Often this element of learning is lost in the training environment of a competitive Box. Obviously there are some precautions to take heed of; don’t have 30 members running amok on your rig, for example. Safety should still be a primary focus. Why not forget about the clock, get a few people together on their active rest day, download some YouTube videos for fun gymnastics movements, and try them out on the rig? Play some dodgeball (with soft kids’ toys please – no wrenches required), string new movements together with some sled pushes and pump up the music so loud you can’t hear yourself think.

In short, teach yourself how to play again. 

THE BENEFITS OF PLAY FOR THE COMPETITIVE ATHLETE

When kids first enter the world they aren’t naturally competitive. One would think this characteristic develops on the sports field, but really it happens in the sandpit when Thabo builds a bigger sandcastle or Suzie pushes you harder than you pushed her. From this playfulness and one-upping each other, a competitive nature develops.

One of the best ways for competitive athletes to work on their goats - which usually become a very sombre occasion featuring expletives and gestures of utter frustration – is to incorporate some fun and try different ways of reaching the movement goals. Handstand walks, for example, are silly. It’s hard to stay serious when watching people attempt a stroll. I once witnessed two guys learning how to do their handstand walks by chalking up their hands, getting into the handstand position and trying to outdo the patterns (and flowers) created by the other. This approach to learning incorporated some fun banter and led to two athletes that could climb stairs and jump onto boxes as part of their handstand walks.

For all athletes, and especially for the competitive athlete, mental state is incredibly important. Being in a competitive, driven and goal-focussed mind-set all the time will lead to burn out. For the competitive athlete, this kind of aggression should be saved for serious events; it’s very stressful on the body and the psychology, leading to a loss of enjoyment of what you are doing and reactionary, defensive and fight or flight behaviour.

GIVE YOUR MIND AND BODY A BREAK WITH A LITTLE PLAY

Allow yourself to transition into a fun mind-set, with no set goals, just exploring what your body can do. Active rest for mind and body allows you to be sharper, edgier and snappier when it’s needed to compete (and more human the rest of the time).

By Diane Teles, Co-Founder of CrossFit 360Vida, Coach and Physiotherapist