The Australian athlete talks about the importance of mindset.
When you watch athletes competing in various CrossFit events or you’re at the local gym seeing those your favorites in action, you can see all the physical attributes that come with dedicating themselves to training at their highest level. As important as that is, it isn’t the only important part of the sport that you need to be the best or to reach your full potential.
Mindset and having confidence in yourself is crucial in training, competition, or life in general. If you approach a workout or event with self-doubt or not being sure of yourself, chances are you will be setting yourself up for failure. While going into that same workout confident isn’t a guarantee you will win or be at your best, you do have the greatest chance of seeing positive results if you believe in yourself.
Someone who can speak to this with experience and validity is 2019 Australian CrossFit Championship winner James Newbury.
“Confidence was the critical factor I needed to get me over the line to make to my first ever CrossFit Games in 2016,” Newbury told FloElite. “I had built each year prior my physical abilities but the one thing I lacked was a solid mindset. This takes time like anything else.”
Over the course of the time since that first Games appearance, he has elevated himself to a fifth-place finish in 2019 at Madison. He’s been recently recovering from injuries after a bike accident and is now back to training with hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Games. Obviously he has needed a proper mindset and confidence in himself as he has been on his road to recovery. While getting stronger and faster have certainly helped, he shares a few insights on what helped him get his brain prepared when it’s time to step onto the competitive platform.
Seeing yourself achieve a goal in your mind can be a big factor in helping you actually doing it. This can be in the form of visualization or meditation the day before or even the hour before it’s time to take on the event ahead. You can do this lying on the floor, sitting in a chair, or if you have access to technology like Newbury does, that works too.
“I used the float tank a lot to mentally visualize my performances and outcomes,” Newbury said. “This allowed me to be more confident on the floor.”
He also does this exercise with others in the gym.
“Asking them to visualize this at night before bed or in the float tank really helps.”
Confidence, Not Arrogance
While there’s nothing wrong with feeling proud or good about your skillset and performance, it’s not wise to feel like you’re superior to others in all facets of life.
“I feel like the difference between confidence and arrogance can be easily misinterpreted but I’m always more worried about the quietest guy in the corrals than the loudest, to be honest,” Newbury said.
If you need to talk yourself up before a challenge, that is fine, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to trash talk or belittle those around you. At the end of the day, let the action speak for itself. Instead of attempting to sound like you’re about to achieve greatness, Newbury advises you to devote that energy before you start to getting yourself ready to go.
“I believe confidence can be reflected in calmness, not boisterous behavior.”
Learn from a Coach
Coaches in any sport do more than help athletes hone their skills. Great coaches also help athletes understand the importance of the mental game and will help them get their minds right as well. Newbury doesn’t only compete himself but also serves as a coach in Australia for several athletes.
”I coach my clients on more than working out. The idea of working IN and being mindful all play a role in success in my opinion.”
There is no one approach that fits all, either.
Different athletes will benefit from different strategies when it comes to developing confidence.
“I encourage them to float, meditate and perform breathing work to help them become calm and relaxed,” Newbury said. “Finding the correct arousal level for an athlete can differ; sometimes you want to hype them up and others you want to ignite a slow burn.”
Comfort Matters Too
“Confidence is also built on how you feel and look,” Newbury said. “Knowing the apparel and footwear your on walk out onto the floor is going to enable you to perform to your best, and can also keep the mind at ease in a stressful situation.”
The platform or weight room isn’t necessarily a cat walk, but there can be a connection between being confident in how you look or feel and how you perform. Newbury prefers Under Armour gear because he feels comfortable when he trains, competes, and travels with their various apparel and clothing. Feeling comfortable and appreciating how you look can translate to yielding positive results on that day’s workout or event. Newbury sums it up well.
“Look good, feel good, compete well.”
Newbury is committed to two Sanctionals so far in 2020. He will be competing in the Australian CrossFit Challenge March 5-8 and the ELFIT CrossFit Challenge in Egypt April 8-11.
Roger Lockridge is from Lewisburg, WV. His work has been featured on numerous platforms and magazines in the fitness industry over the last 10 years. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @rocklockridge.