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  • Writer's pictureTom Foxley

3 Killer Ways For CrossFit Athletes To Completely Flip Their Mindset

If you look at your training & competing in the same way for the rest of your life, you will not change your mindset. Changing your mindset is about changing your perspective.

Today, I’m going to show you 3 ways you can flip your mindset instantly. Each offers a complete reframe around your mindset & can help you break free from your mindset blocks.

Once you’ve read this, you’ll understand why you’ve failed to change your mindset so far. You’ll also know what to do about it this time.

4 A’s of Change

In my first call with my CrossFit athletes, I explain the 4 A’s to them as the model to think about their mindset growth in. It helps them frame the journey and not get ahead of themselves. It also helps them understand what to expect as they grow.

What’s beautiful about his model is that it allows you to understand what you need next in order to grow & also where you may be messing up.

The 4 A’s of Change describe the process of changing your mindset and the stages you’ll go through.

First, is Acceptance. You need to accept exactly where you are without judgement or hiding things in the dark. Fully accept the reality you’re in.

Next, find Awareness. This is the stage all athletes rush. They want to change things immediately, because actually, this is an uncomfortable stage. It’s not exactly pretty to be aware of all the thoughts, all the emotions, and the deeper story you’re telling yourself on a deeper level. But you must become brilliantly aware of the subtleties of your story if you’re going to change this.

Third, Accountability. When you’re highly aware of the story you’re telling yourself and the ways it shows up, it’s time to take Accountability. Not to a coach, but to yourself. To the self that wants the best for you. It’s time to take a stand for your own best interest.

Finally, Adaptation. When you have all three previous A’s in place, Adaptation just happens. The moment you lose one of those three, adaptation ceases.

Here’s an example…

Say you’re a CrossFit athlete who struggles with your mindset - you feel it’s the thing that holds you back the most. First, you need to accept that & no longer run from it. That may look like admitting it to your coach and yourself. Maybe it includes reaching out to a coach.

Next, you must become aware of the story that creates the thoughts. So you identify the thoughts and emotions which derail you most frequently. In this example, the athlete hears her thoughts as “you don’t deserve to be here… you’re not good enough…” and feels the shame and embarrassment around failure and identifies her story as “I’m not good enough to hang with this level of athlete".

Third, the athlete takes accountability for herself. She learns and implements the tools which will rid her of this story. The important piece there is that she implements this. This is the true accountability. Finally, adaptation just happens

Valley of Despair

Between 4 and 7 weeks into working with me, an athlete drops into the Valley of Despair. They feel like they’re never going to change but really, this is a sign of growth. Let’s take a step back.

The first time you try to change anything about your life - mindset or otherwise, you’ll be at a stage of growth called Uninformed Optimism. You don’t know much about the process, but you feel optimistic. This is when you hire a coach, or finish listening to a podcast. You feel stoked to create change.

However, just around the corner, shit gets real. You realise how hard this will be, and this takes an emotional toll. This is called Informed Pessimism. This carries on for a little while until you hit rock bottom. At this point, you’re in the Valley of Despair.

Sounds bad, right?


The Valley of Despair feels crap, but it’s actually an important phase of growth. The Valley of Despair is a step forward, not back.

Most athletes, without the support of a coach,

arrive in the valley, and jump back to phase 1, uninformed optimism, by seeking out something new to work on. Then they just loop between these stages for the rest of their lives.

Athletes who work with me take a different route. They lean into the problem. Not run from it. Because of this, they rise out of the other side of the Valley of Despair and reach the point of Informed Optimism.

They begin seeing real growth. They make long lasting change, and they see it apply to all areas of life.

Eventually, this leads to stage 5: success and fulfilment. In other words, they create the mindset which leads them to their best performances.


Initially you think your mindset problem is a programming or nutrition or mobility problem. “If only I could get better programming, or fuel myself properly, I would be able to overcome this,” you may think.

Eventually you realise this is a mindset problem though.

You see the thoughts that create self-sabotage, and watch the semiconscious patterns of behaviour you can’t pull yourself out of.

It’s really frustrating when you’re at this stage. You know what the problem is, but you can’t get yourself out of it.

Once again, the frustration is a sign of progress. You need this stage to move forward.

Hopefully here, you are taught the tools which help you most, and you use every bit of willpower to make change. It’s clunky and it’s slow. You fail frequently, but over time you trend toward improvement & growth.

Eventually, you do this without thinking.

The 4 stages you move through are:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence - you don’t know what you don’t know and you don’t how how to change that.

  2. Conscious Incompetence - you realise you have a problem, but you don’t know how to change it.

  3. Conscious Competence - you become aware of the solution and work really hard to change your old habits

  4. Unconscious Competence - you practise stage 3 so frequently it becomes second nature.

For example, you get frustrated at how you underperform in competitions. This leads you to becoming aware of the thoughts and emotions which cause problems. Next, you decide to start working with me and I show you the steps to grow - ;).

Finally, at the end of 12 weeks working together, you implement these tools without thinking. Mindset changed for good. New levels of performance unlocked.


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