By: Ben Sweeney

Let’s face it, the majority of people who walk into any CrossFit gym are competitive. But when does the competitiveness we have become more of a hindrance than a motivator? It is normal to be competitive, it is a good thing to set goals, wanted to be the best is healthy. When it starts to become unhealthy is when you start to walk into the gym, study the scores on the board and need to win.

Professional athletes aren’t training the same way that everyone else is training. It is their job, but at the bottom of it, all professional athletes are always working towards getting better and beating what they have done in the past. That should always be a goal of any day in the gym. The people who you are always seeing in the gym with the most results aren’t getting better because they are winning every WOD or putting up the biggest numbers day in and day out. The people who constantly getting better because they are competing with themselves every day.

Between myself and the people who I train with, we are never focusing on what the other is doing. We are never judging what the other is doing, we will give each other advice if we see something really off in a lift, but it is never any negative talk. When doing any form of conditioning, it is friendly competition in order to push, but it is always a personal battle that we are there to help the other push through. That is when it is healthy competition. Because of the hard work that each of us is putting in to improve ourselves, we are constantly seeing progress. Whether it is moving fast, lifting heavier, or having better scores on workouts that haven’t been done in a while.

When you are training for the blackboard, on the other hand, is when you start to really plateau and start to find ways to have the best score in any way possible. This becomes dangerous for athletes real quick both physically and mentally. It can become physically dangerous because instead of focusing on form and technique behind any movement to get better, it becomes about getting it done to be ranked number one on a board. In a conditioning component of a training session, reps will start to be cut short of times will be recorded inaccurately. This is one of the worst things for an athlete to do not only because of dishonesty but because instead of having data that can accurately show where you started and how you’ve progressed. Instead, now you have no idea of where you started and when tested again, you will need to remember your real time, just to see if you have made any progress. This can become more and more mentally exhausting and start to become more and more defeating.  Remember to always train for yourself to make progress and not the blackboard.