No workout posts from me this week. After the competition Saturday, I have declared this week my quarterly week of rest. I’ll get back it next Monday. Nothing’s injured. There are no problems. This is just one of those semi-scheduled breaks to rest the muscles and recharge the emotions before getting back into things.

While I’ve got some down time though, I’m still thinking about some things that went on during Saturday’s competition that I’m still working through. One of those things is how best to cheer for someone who’s competing? It’s a funky, funny thing. It requires quite a bit of balance.

Naturally, you want to show your deep support and encouragement for the athlete. You want them to know that you are in their corner and you want them to do well. You want to charge them up and share some of your energy to allow them to draw on your reserve to continue to move foward. Yet, there’s some cheering that’s just not useful. And I found that most of it, while appreciated when offered, is just noise. Here’s what I mean.


I’ve been married to Erin for almost 20 years. It’s safe to say that I’m attuned to her voice. In Saturday’s competition when I was on the floor, I heard her when she cheered. It helped that we talked before each heat and we agreed on certain information or cues that we wanted from one another. I was listening for her to warn me to flatten my back on the power cleans, or to call out the half-way point in any given METCON, if the announcers didn’t call it out. That was information I wanted and felt I needed. I was dialed into it. So I heard it.

I was tuned into my judge. Also stands to reason, right? They have potentially critical information to share if I’m not doing something correctly. It pays to stay tuned into them.

After that, that was pretty much it. If you were cheering for me, I sincerely thank you but I didn’t hear it. Sorry.

I had a similar experience last September in the team event. I would hear Erin. I could hear my kids. I would hear my judge. The only other voice I heard that day was a former coach who was on hand coaching athletes from his current gym. He kept an eye on my heats and I heard his voice when he called out specific cues. His is a voice of authority which I recognize and trust and on that day I was dialed into it. Which leads me to my next point…

What Do You Cheer

When the day started, I found I was just like everyone else. I was caught up in the action watching my friends compete. I was screaming my head off, “C’mon. Faster!”

“Pick it up!”

Then it was my turn to compete and you know what? If I’ve set the bar down, it’s because I can no longer pick it up! I need a break! “Pick it up,” is not constructive in that moment. As a result, I found that as the day wore on, I talked to Erin before her heats. “What do you need to hear from me? Do you need times called out? How can I help?” I became much more selective about what I cheered and when.

For her, she wanted to know if she was doing something wrong. If I saw a problem in her technique that was slowing her down or was potentially unsafe, she wanted to know that. Otherwise, she wanted to be left alone to concentrate. Related to that I had to point out to a couple of folks that Erin recovers differently from most of us.

Common wisdom is that when you need to catch your breath you stand upright and breathe deep. Erin finds that she prefers to rest her hands on her knees with arms locked out straight and with a flat back. She’s bent at the waist, but her torso is fully extended. She contends it’s easier for her to recover this way. Yelling at her to stand up straight serves no purpose. She knows that it’s not the right answer for her and at worst it sets off that internal mental conflict because she’s receiving information that she knows doesn’t work for her.

Time is another funny thing too. As I mentioned, Erin and I agreed that we wanted to know the midpoint of each METCON if the announcers didn’t call it out. So we shared that with each other. I did that for my buddy unsolicited in the final WOD and I could tell by his reaction that I either confused him or disheartened him. There was definitely an instant of “WTF” on his face. So it was obvious that what I offered to be constructive was certainly not. Sorry, man.

Where am I going with all of this? I’m not entirely certain.

As a new coach, the whole experience has me wondering what’s best for the athletes that I lead? What cues, what encouragement works best for them? Am I using cues or sending signals right now that are counterproductive? I hope not. I’ll need to talk to them about that in the coming weeks.

How about other folks? Regardless of whether you crossfit or not I want to hear your thoughts. When you’re competing in any sport or activity what kind of encouragement works best for you? Do you want somebody turning purple in the face screaming at you telling you to “go harder?” Does that help? What do you hear? Do you want technical cues? What’s just noise? I’m curious to hear.