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Mental Toughness: Visualization

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The Crossfit Open is a time where we test ourselves. On the outside it looks like a physical test, but for anyone who has done the Open before, we know it is more of a mental test than anything else. What is “just another workout” all of a sudden gives us more butterflies and sometimes  anxiety. The Open is made to push you; whether that is pushing yourself to “that dark place”, trying for a PR lift, or getting your first (insert gymnastics movement). You have spent months putting in the work (or maybe not), but how can you better prepare yourself RIGHT NOW for those moments in the Open that are made to push you? Visualization.

Visualization, also called imagery or mental rehearsal, is using all your senses (e.g. see, feel, hear, taste, smell) to rehearse your sport in your mind. You have probably seen various Olympic and professional athletes going through their visualization routines before they take the floor. It almost looks like they are oddly dancing around with their eyes closed. Well, they actually aren’t. What they are doing is picturing themselves executing their sport perfectly before actually performing it. This helps alleviates stress levels and gives them the confidence they need before their performance. (

So, how can you use this in CrossFit? You can use visualization to help you practice any skill. Let’s take your first bar muscle up as an example. Though you have never done a bar muscle up before, you know what one looks likes and how it should be executed, so you can picture yourself doing one. Imagine each rep is done with perfection and efficiency to make the workout as seamless as possible. Imagine yourself completing the entire workout this way. If you know you have to break up a set of movements that is okay, but when you continue with that movement, picture yourself feeling and looking confident as you complete the movement.
How do you visualize exactly? There are a couple of key components. Find a room where you will not be disturbed, so you can give your complete focus. Second, you want to be comfortable, so pick a comfy chair, bed, floor, etc. From there, detail is key. It is not enough to just simply picture yourself doing the movements, but all of the details surrounding you. You need to be able to picture the location, what you are wearing, what songs are playing, who is cheering you on, any smells in the room … you get the picture. The more details there are in your imagery, the more real it is to your brain. The more real the visualization is, the less stressed and more confident you will be in the actual situation. Practice visualizing daily along with your workout programming. We still have three more weeks of the 2017 Open, so use visualization to help with performance anxiety and accomplishing those new skills and PRs!

Coach Brittany