Effective Encouragement: 6 Types of CrossFit Athletes

As athletes, we’ve all been there. We’re somewhere in the middle of a WOD, running on all cylinders, with no end in sight. At this point, we’re sure we won’t be able to finish but then a familiar voice steps in and suddenly there’s more gas in the tank than we thought. This voice, this person, is our ally. That, my friends, is what CrossFit is all about.

Whether it’s the Open, a local competition or in the box, a big part of getting through a WOD is the motivation from your mates. Something important to remember is that all athletes are motivated a little differently, so there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to cheering them on. We’ve put together a handy guide on how to support your squad effectively, so you’re in luck!

Encouragement 2

The Reserved Athlete

When first starting CrossFit, it can be super intimidating to walk into a class where an athlete, who likely looks like they may be dying, is surrounded by people yelling at them to keep going. Eventually someone new to the sport may get to a point where this type of encouragement works for them, but a gentler approach might be better suited for them at the beginning. This type of encouragement can be extremely effective especially when paired with support on rep schemes (for example: “you have 7 reps left, give me 4 and 3”) while giving them a gentle push.

This doesn’t just apply to a person new to the sport but also those who prefer to not be the center of attention. The important thing to remember here is to maintain a calm demeanor (which for some of us may be difficult).

The Push Me Athlete

On the other side of the coin are the athletes that respond best to the loud, aggressive howls. These are the types that if you, as their motivator, aren’t sweating too, it’s time to kick it up a notch. Sometimes for these athletes it doesn’t even matter what you are saying because they are so far into their own personal hell, they just need you there to feed them energy. However, this is not always the case, so it helps to have a relationship with these types just in case they do remember every word that came out of your mouth (let’s be honest, sometimes our subconscious just spits out the first thing that comes to mind).

The Half and Half Athlete

These athletes are usually the seasoned vet who is a master at pacing and are technically solid. Their goal is likely score or time driven so they don’t want any distractions. It also helps to know the strengths and capabilities of these athletes before stepping in to motivate so you know the difference between them slowing down as opposed to them being strategic. When you do see these athletes slowing down, a simple, “You got this!” will do the trick.

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The Piece By Piece Athlete

While the previous athlete is technically solid and seasoned, the piece by piece athlete is one that may struggle with the technical elements and are just figuring out how they work best. These athletes appreciate the coaching mid-WOD, especially if they are struggling to complete a particular movement. Rather than let them get frustrated, notice what they are missing and calmly give them a cue. A simple, “Get under the bar faster,” or “You’re pulling late,” can work wonders. Additionally, these type of athletes could benefit from a talk to the WOD (rep scheme, etc.) before the clock starts.

The Competitive Athlete

Ahhh, the competitive type. We all know at least one. These are the athletes who thrive on getting a better score than another similarly talented athlete. They can literally be on the verge of giving up, taking a rest, or slowing down until you utter these five little words: “(Name) is 2 reps ahead.” After that, the real battle begins.


The Cool, Calm, and Collected Athlete

This is a special type of athlete—most people may equate them to being superhuman. No matter how hard a WOD might be, they get through it with ease. Everything about them is calm, so much so that you may question if they even broke a sweat. After all, they crush WODs before the discomfort actually hits them because they fully embrace the pain cave. Heck, they may even live there!

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Something important to note is that sometimes athletes ebb and flow from different categories. Maybe they are the reserved type at first, but might move into the push me type or the piece by piece. It can also depend on whether the WOD is suited to their strengths or not, too. It’s important to be aware of the needs of the athlete in order to set them up for success!

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