Our second trial Competition Class was a great success, with members of all levels and abilities coming in to workout together. We also learnt a little something about our motivation.
Motivated for success or avoiding failure?
Researchers have theorised that there may be two opposing personality traits when it comes to athletics, competition or event social scenarios; Those who are Motivated to Avoid Failure (MAF) and those who are Motivated to Achieve Success (MAS)
Be aware, neither of these labels are black and white and neither is either good or bad – It’s just different. The key is to understand where you fit and then use the right tools to motivate yourself and others to achieve success.
“The motivational discussion was an extra element that really made me think about my own motivation and it helps you evaluate the whole training process and refocus” – Leigh Hawkins
Motivated to Avoid Failure (MAF)
This relates to the desire to protect ones ego or self esteem, whether internally (in your head) to externally (to your peers).
MAF athletes are more comfortable in scenario’s where success for them is highly probably or when success is highly improbable (i.e they are not expected to win). If these athletes are in a situation where the goal is challenging or they stand to suffer a self-esteem/ego blow for not ‘winning’ then MAF athletes often have a decrease in motivation and performance.
Motivated to Achieve Success (MAS)
These individuals have a very simple motivation, the desire to win. They are excited and pumped by uncertain stations or ones that give them only a small chance of success. In contrast to MAF individuals, MAS folks thrive in the face of adversity or a big challenge.
In the world of sports most Champions or those competing at the top of their game are MAS athletes (though not all of them!).
You see examples of this time and time again especially when Champions come from behind to win, there is a quote that has always stuck with me – “Winners start by losing‘
I am sure you can all think of some examples, what about Roger Federer’s many famous comebacks?! From being down 2 sets to 0 and with a very small change of winning the match, he stages what seems like impossible comebacks, a great example of a MAF athlete.
You can also see this with sports teams. I remember a football match between Man Utd and Tottenham. Utd were they away team, and after a abysmal first half they were losing 3-0 and it looked like Tottenham would steam roller Utd for the rest of the game. Alex Ferguson (the Utd Manager) issued his team a challenge at half time, to score 1 goal early on and transform the game. His team came out and were incredible, they scored their first goal within 1 minute of the re-start and went onto win 5-3. An example of a manager challenging his team to perform what seemed impossible and his team rising to the challenge.
“The general feeling of the class was great, you can see that everyone that’s there is hungry for it – so it fosters a very motivational environment” – Hannah Rogers
Motivating MAF and MAS Individuals
MAS athletes are easily motivated, just point them in the direction of the challenge, wind them up and watch then go.
MAF athletes need something different, in order to preserve self esteem these athletes need to focus on themselves and not on everyone else.
They need to look at how they can maximise their own performance in any given workout and by focusing on themselves they can formulate a strategy that allows them to perform to the best of their abilities. Ideas include:
- Deciding how they are going to break up the work – “Im going to do 10 reps, then rest, 10 more reps, the rest, then finish the last 5 reps”
- Decide on set rest periods – “I’m going to rest 10 seconds between my sets then go back in“
- Decide on pacing strategy – “I will aim to run the first 400m in 1 min 10 seconds, the second round in 1 minute 20 seconds, and the third in less that 1 minute 30 seconds“
Because they are focusing on their own performance and not in comparison to anyone else, their motivation remains high as their achievements remain firmly within their control, and with that comes a high chance of success.
During the Competition Class this past weekend we spent time discussing this pre and post workout. I bit the bullet first and explained to the class that I feel I am definitely a MAF athlete.
Our workout involved 60/40kg snatches, thrusters, cleans and lots of running. For that particular workout I explained to the class went through my head when I saw this….
1) I could not lose to a member of the class
Notice the language – It was not one of I am going to win this workout, it was I do not want to lose, a definite example of self preservation of my own ego and self-esteem. Not there is anything wrong with ‘losing’ to a member (you guys are smashing it!), but for my self-esteem that was my thought process.
2) This workout is going to suck because of the 60kg snatches and thrusters
I also looked at workout and immediately focused on what is going to be difficult for me – I didn’t look at the 1 mile, 800m, and 400m runs which I knew I would smash.
Internally I tell myself this workout will suck and I am already justifying a possible bad performance which is protecting my self-esteem. Because of this I more likely to drop the pace and become de-motivated when the hard parts arrive.
However, I acknowledged this and decided to motivate myself accordingly as a MAF individual. I decided how much rest I was going to take between sets/reps on the snatches, cleans & thrusters, and I would focus on maximising my strengths (the runs). At the end of the workout, if I was successful in my strategy I knew I would shake out somewhere near the top of the pile, and I could do this without worrying about what anyone else was doing.
These MAF attributes can be identified in athletes who are constantly comparing themselves and their results to others and who becoming frustrated or de-motivated if they are under-performing against somebody they feel they should be beating.
Identifying yourself as a MAF or MAS athlete is the hardest part. As I mentioned, neither is better or worse than the other, its just different. Once you have identified your motivators and de-motivators your performance and confidence can skyrocket.
“I found the talk about motivation very interesting and working out with the advanced athletes was great, it made me re-think my approach to training and competing.” – David Yu
Mastering your Motivation
Here are some steps you can use to help gain control of your motivation:
- Make a list of what motivates you when you see a workout, and during the workout itself
- Make a list of those things that de-motivate you
- Based on that list, decide if you are MAS or MAF tendencies
If you are Motivated to Achieve Success:
- In each workout, you are their to win / post the best time or score
- Choose somebody in the class that you want to chase during the workout
- Set yourself a challenging target; A certain time to complete a workout, a score to achieve etc. Better yet, ask the coach to set that target for you!
If you are Motivated to Avoid Failure:
- Forget about everybody else, what they do is something you have no control over, so why worry about it
- Focus on the strategies that will make your workout as successful as possible for you
What next for Competition Class?
Our two trial sessions are over, and they have been a great success. We have had athletes of all abilities and experiences coming to these sessions.
The focus of this 90 minute class is on competition style CrossFit workouts (individual, partner, team WOD’s) and the skill’s that they involve. The goal is create an environment similar to that experienced in competitions as well as help prepare the athletes for the mental and physical obstacles they may face. As with any CrossFit workout, these can be scaled up or down as appropriate – So there is not reason not to come and train!
We plan to start with a regular once per week session on Saturdays 12:00 to 13:30.
If demand continues to grow for this class we would be keen to expand the schedule. So if you like the session and what to see more, just keep showing up and kickin’ ass!
Workout of the Day:
A1) Back squats: 25 minutes to establish a new 1 rep max
A2) Perform 1 set max rep set @ 70% of your heaviest single from A1
B) “Sgt. Slaughter”
3 rounds of:
1 minute to complete: 90m sprint (45m out and back)
2 minutes to complete: 180m sprint (90m out and back)
3 minutes to complete: 270m sprint
At 3.2.1 Go!… Run 45m and back as fast as possible.
At the 1 minute mark, sprint 90m and back.
At the 3 minute mark sprint to the 45m and back, then the 90m and back. That is one round.
At the 6 minute mark begin round 2.
Record times for all 9 intervals.
These should be all-out efforts.
A) Front squat complex & Clean warm-up
B1) 15 minutes to build to a max double for the day
B2) Do three additional singles on the weight of the heaviest double.
C) Hang cleans
C1) 15 minutes to build to a max double for the day
C2) Do three additional singles on the weight of the heaviest double.
D) Clean + hang cleans
D1) 15 minutes to build to a max 1+1 for the day
– Do one clean from the ground followed by one hang clean.
– You cannot put the bar down between lifts