The original post is from but has been slightly edited. Go straight to the end for the extended commentary.

And now to seriousness: As a trainer, it’s important to properly gauge your athletes. Some athletes are stronger then others, some can perform specific skills better. However recently, I’ve noticed that the athletes that I train regularly are taking whatever thrown at them without breaking a sweat. (Metaphorically speaking anyway.) They’re routinely performing much better than I anticipate.

This is good. Progress is being made. People are growing.  Consistent training is paying off in increased performance. I (being outwardly benevolent) am pleased.

The side effect, of course, is that your athletes start to feel a little confident. And who can blame them? They’re crushing tough WOD’s. They should be confident. But I (being secretly tyrannical) grow slightly concerned.

I start to think: given enough confidence, athletes might begin to grow cocky. They might begin to think that because they crushed last weeks training, that they’ll crush todays as well. One thing to will to another. Confidence will lead to pride, then to hubris. Athletes might begin to openly mock the iron fist of authority held by the trainers.

The whole system would fall into chaos. Anarchy would reign. The riot shields we have would finally come into use.

Enter today’s WOD.

AMRAP 20 mins.

30 Double Unders

30 Overhead Squats

30 Toes to Bar

30 Ring dips.

Physically, it’s bad. Mentally, it’s worse. At lower reps these skills tend to test strength. At higher reps, it’s a whole different ball game. The idea behind it was to test the athletes ability to stay focused and controlled during skills that require a high degree of coordination, control and focus.  Recovery is key, as is the ability to stay calm and collected.

It’s also a great way to keep everyone (including trainers who’ve done it.) humble.


Recently, a lot of the WOD’s I’ve been programming and testing tend to rely more on brute strength and less on technique. While that works up to a point, a lot of athletes have a tendency to either under or over estimate what weight to use during a WOD and as a result, either power through it with no problem and barely an elevated heart rate, or get a quarter of the way through and keel over.

Usually, I would alternate a skill that athletes can perform easily with a skill that gives them trouble in an attempt to balance the work they can perform well and the work they struggle with. However, since Sunday is my shortest day, I have much less qualms about testing something brutal and seeing how people react.

In this case, every single skill in the WOD is not just strength based but skill based as well. Double unders require a high degree of coordination and timing, overhead squats and ring dips require good control of familiar movement patterns in a dynamic environment, and the toes to bar require very good body awareness.

The hard part of the workout isn’t completing the reps. It’s recovering and staying calm once you miss a rep.

Bottom line: You need to develop a plan for when you fail.

(God. And now it’s degenerated into a “Crossfit, as in life.” post. Bear with me.)

You’re going to fail sooner or later. Your ability to react to that failure in a constructive way is what is going to separate athletes who excel from those who are just merely decent. Missing a rep isn’t the end of the world. Not finishing a workout in the time alloted isn’t a huge deal. Plateaus happen.

It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

It means that you need to relax, breath, reset, and try it again.

Most of all: Prepare to be frustrated. Have a way to deal with it constructively and quickly. Which is more along the lines of: “3 Deep breaths. Brace my shoulders. Reset my position. Go.” then taking an untimed break. Or stopping to sip water when you don’t need to, or my favorite: the ever popular, “I’m stalling for time by chalking up.” routine.

Decrease the time you need to recover mentally between one failed attempt and the next potential attempt and you’ll rack up better a performance then the drama queen next to you punching the wall because they missed a rep.