So... Tomorrow I will be posting the winners from the 2014 Ultimate Lift Off! How did watching your fellow athletes in your heat inspire your or intimidate you? Do you experience the same thing when you walk into the gym every day? What about when you look at the white board? Here is a little sports psychology for you from Fletcher Fitness.
Fran. For Time. Goals. Top Scores. Max Reps. James – 22 ½ rounds. Charts. WOD. Rx’d. Kim -100kg. 6:14. Do the markings on your CrossFit’s whiteboard make you anxious? Amped? Focused? Fearful? Many members dread the whiteboard and many people outside of the CrossFit Community can‘t fathom belonging to a fitness center where their workout outcomes were going to be posted. Whiteboard is simply a name for any glossy surface, most commonly colored white, where non-permanent markings can be made (as defined by Wikipedia). So why do these WORDS and NUMBERS that are TEMPORARY elicit such a psychological response, and why, oh why, does the CrossFit Community insist on using such a device?
CrossFit was on to something when they decided to utilize the whiteboard. The whiteboard is a type of public posting, which is a technique widely studied in the field of Sports Psychology. Public posting is actually a behavioral strategy that has been shown to improve performance. “Public posting has demonstrated robust effects across diverse populations, a variety of settings, and a broad range of behaviors” (Ward & Carnes, 2002). Sound familiar? It seems as though this behavioral strategy and CrossFit have some commonalities. We CrossFit because we are interested in results. The whiteboard likely improves your results. Whether you like it or not.
Take a moment to think about each of these questions.
– If everything that you ate in the past week was going to be written on the whiteboard in your box, for everyone to see, do you think you would eat differently?
– If your max overhead squat goal for that month was the only circled one on the whiteboard, do you think you would try harder to achieve it?
– If you saw Jason Khalipa’s WOD score before you began your workout, would that intimidate you and cause feelings of self-doubt? Or invigorate you to try to compete with it?
The whiteboard may elicit positive psychological responses such as motivation, positive self-criticism, confidence and/or reflection. On the other hand, it may also evoke negative psychological-responses such as fear, intimidation, negative self-criticism, and/or doubt. Take some time and figure out what type of response you get from certain postings on the whiteboard, even take a few notes in your personal journal.
Awareness is the first step in mental skills training, which is necessary in order to reach the highest level of performance. Mental skills training is simply a term used to describe becoming aware of your mental processes and behaviors and developing methods to improve your control over them. Future articles in the CrossFit MENTAL Series will delve into ways to improve control over your mental skills and processes.
Each CrossFitter has a specific and individualized mental skills set and can learn to use a variety of postings to their benefit. Therefore, I would encourage coaches to vary the types of posts (scores, goals, etc.) on the whiteboard. Research in the field of Sports Psychology has shown that goal setting is strengthened when publically posted. Are your goals written on the whiteboard in your box? Try posting a couple of personal goals up there. Another highly effective strategy in improving performance is combining goal setting, public posting and oral feedback (Brobst & Ward, 2002). This simply means writing your goals on the public white board and having someone orally state what has been posted.
If coaches would continuously verbalize the goals that are written on the whiteboard, it could increase the likelihood of those goals being achieved. These findings are just reinforcing the idea that making goals and scores public can help you improve your performance.
I would suggest using the whiteboard as a tool to learn more about yourself and your mental game. The whiteboard is simply used by the CrossFit Community as an open journal to display information. It is another distinction that sets us apart from Globo Gyms. CrossFitters should learn to embrace the whiteboard and all the markings that are temporarily posted on its glossy surface. So, use the whiteboard. Get outside of your comfort zone. Become comfortable with the uncomfortable. The infamous CrossFit Whiteboard likely enhances your performance more than it hinders it…and by the way, it isn’t going anywhere.