Negative Thinking Can Dramatically Affect High Intensity Performance

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

negative thinking

Last week, we started a 15 part series that explores mental strength and high intensity athletic performance.

In this set, we explored the first two steps of the process and today, we will be looking at the third step in the series.

Step 3 – Mastering Negative Thinking and Self Doubt

When you start mental strength training, you will encounter some situations that will end up testing your mental strength during crunch time. These will be negative thinking and self-doubts.

For this post, we will look at two strategies and specific tactics available you can use with each strategy. They will address:

1. Negativity before the event. This will explore how you handle negative thinking over the course of an entire season and understand that it impacts your athletic performance.

2. Neutralize negative thinking and self-doubt immediately before and during a competition or any high intensity performance such as CrossFit is important. Here, we will explore the negative thinking that can come up and prevent you from ever reaching your peak performance.

3. How negativity can feel like the flu in your body. When you have that blah feeling combined with a lack of energy, the world looks dull and you no longer feel invested. You have what some call a “why bother” attitude.

Eventually, the negativity and your own self-doubt will lead to quitting and failure in the long run.

Shake It Off

As humans, we know it is very common to hold on to past experiences.

Sometimes we hold it for a week; other times, it can hold on to us for a month or even years. We are unable to shake the memory as it consumes us and before long, we no longer have the same level of enthusiasm.

Soon, we allow the emotions to take over and as this continues to happen, if we choose to do nothing, we are deeply buried in a well of despair.

We know it takes character to remain positive, and mental strength and guts are necessary.

So…how do you stay positive when you are in game mode or focused on your high intensity performance workout routine you do as part of your CrossFit regimen to maintain peak levels of performance?

Remember the two strategies we discussed earlier in this post? If you follow these, you can learn to shake things off and step it up to be successful.

Regular Daily Training:

In this part, we will look at some things you can do during practice and throughout your daily activities. This will take some patience to follow and you should allow yourself a month for this process.

Assignment One – Investigative Reporting

Start a week by being an investigative reporter in your life. You will want to take a look at your negative thinking and see when it appears and what comes to mind. You should do this when you are in a game or doing your CrossFit high intensity performance workouts just before you reach your peak. Pay attention to the self-talk and learn to understand how all of this is impacting you.

Maintain a journal and enter each situation and what was going on in your mind after every situation. Pay close attention to doubts and fears that started up in your mind. As you explore these things, you will find that, eventually, you will be able to take action.

Assignment Two – Count Your Thoughts

With the above task completed successfully, you can now count the negative thoughts that appear in your life. In a five-minute period, count the number of times something negative comes up.

As you count them, you will notice they will stop.

During this process, it will be important to look at the when, where, why and how these negative thoughts crawl into your mind as they will keep impacting your performance on the field and when you are trying to hit your CrossFit peak.

Assignment Three – Thought Stopping

From the moment you notice you have a negative thought, demand that it “Stop!” and then proceed to take a deep breath and imagine the negative thought is being expelled with your breath.

Once that is done, try to think on the opposite end of the spectrum and let empowering and positive thoughts fill your mind.

Mental Strength Tactics before High Intensity Performance

• Thought stopping technique (the same one as above).
• Wear a rubber or elastic band on your wrist and snap it each time you have a negative thought and think of a positive one instead.
• Decide on an “interrupt” word, i.e. stop, cancel, no thanks, etc., use it to cease negative thoughts and turn to a supportive thought instead.
• On your equipment, place a small dot, smiley face or something that reminds you to stop thinking of the negative and focus on the positive when you are on the field or workout floor.
• Take a moment to write down all the negative thoughts you have and other things bothering you. Destroy the paper and note that with the paper’s destruction, your negative thoughts are destroyed as well.
• Share your self-doubts with the coach or a mental strength coach and get a supportive perspective on this topic.
• In your mind, write all your negative thoughts on a backboard and then imagine you are erasing them from the board and your mind.
• If it helps, imagine you have a volume control in your head and turn down your negative thoughts.
• Imagine circus music is playing in your head when the negative thoughts are at their worst.
• Pretend to be an opera singer and sing the negative thoughts. If you are a terrible singer, this will really put them in their place.

Now What?

So now that you have practiced these skills on the field and during a CrossFit session, what do you do with the ANT’s (automotive negative thoughts) that won’t quit?

Perhaps you have done all you can think of and they just won’t go away.

One by one, these negative thoughts will rage in a storm in your head and block out even a single ray of sunlight.

You say to yourself, “Oh no…this is wrong…I’m not supposed to have these thoughts. I’ve been practicing, what’s wrong with me?”

This ends up causing a panic state and before you know it, your athletic performance has tanked.

What you need to understand is that every athlete, no matter how incredible they are, has experienced this very situation.

The main difference is that these performers do not allow the situation to impact them and instead, they break away from them in the process. They choose to instead focus on the positive and often surpass their own capabilities in the process.

How Top High Intensity Performers Think

1. There is an understanding this is normal and they use it as a signal to understand they are ready.

2. They treat the thoughts as though they are in another language and ignore the conversation.

Just like sitting high above a river and the only way you get wet is if you choose to jump in. Since the water can be cool and clean, you can also feel great in the process. If you believe negative polluted water is under you, you know you will believe that nothing good can come from the water.

This means your mind is just like a flowing river and you can embrace the cool, clean water and allow the dirty, polluted waters to be washed away.

If a negative thought comes in, don’t jump into it. Instead, look for the proper focus cues that are in place.

In short, you will back away from the thought.

No matter where you stand in the process, it will be important for you to focus on the positive and learn to refocus. Doing that, you will be able to step back sit from a situation and refocus, using your positive performance.

When you have become proficient at practicing and controlling your negative thinking and knowing every athlete gets pre-game jitters, you have the resources to correct, continue and turn in a peak athletic performance.

Gregg Swanson is owner of Warrior Mind Coach and specializes in the development of mental strength to reach your human potential and achieve peak performance. He is also the creator of the Mental Strength Coaching Certification, providing the tools to help trainers and coaches get the most from their clients and athletes.

Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 
Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

CrossFit Shadyside shared a link on Facebook

J. Humenay published the post Answering The Question - "Why Do You Lift?" on Tabata Times
Recently, I've been asked the question, "Why do you do Olympic lifts? There are so many other ways...
CrossFit Pittsburgh posted an article
CrossFit Integrated Fitness shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Pittsburgh posted on Facebook

Available right now: 1 pair of Men's Cordura WOD Shorts Size 33" Retail $60.00 yours for $40.00.

astewart30 published the post Size Doesn't Matter on
From the time I was 10 years old I have been aware of my size. I have always known how much I weigh...
CrossFit KSX posted on Facebook

Tuesday's Workout Strength: 10 min EMOM 3 Deadlift @ 70% of 3RM Conditioning: 12min EMOM 3 Power cleans 155/115 5 strict pull-ups Rest 2 min: 3 rounds of: 1 min elbow plank 45 sec max supermans 30 sec Russian twist with weight 20/15 * 30 sec rest between rounds*

CrossFit Iron City posted on Facebook

This week's challenge is: 3 min AMRAP of 20 DU's Jason L. already has 2 wins down, who is going to take the top spot this week?

CrossFit Center City shared a link on Facebook

#DIDYOUKNOW that CFCC offers Custom Fit Meals? These fresh, healthy meals are a great option for weeks when you're especially busy. They offer a huge menu that rotates week to week, and there's no commitment required. Use code CENTERCITY to take 10% off your first order. If you're thinking about participating in the #cfccrecharge or are struggling to find healthy options on-the-go, give CFM a try! #nutrition #paleo #paleoish

CrossFit Center City shared an image on Facebook

Don't forget we are holding a 2 hour introductory Strongman clinic on Sunday September 28th. Link to sign up is in the comments. Email Record at if you have any questions about it and remember it is open to both CFCC member and non-members!

CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit Athletics posted on Facebook

SFH Fish Oil and *new* pure protein (without Creatine) is in stock!! Get it while it's hot.

Kristy Parrish published the post How Julie Foucher Became Julie Foucher on
Editor's Note: "How Julie Foucher Became Julie Foucher" was originally posted to the Beyond the...
WhatWouldJohnMackEat published the post Portuguese Style Littleneck Clams on Nutrition WOD
Littleneck clams are hands down my favorite seafood. I eat them raw, steamed or cooked Portuguese...
CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

Jeremiah swinging the kettlebell with authority.

CrossFit Focus shared a link on Facebook

You don't get what you want - you get what you work for.

Breaking Point Fitness CrossFit Ridge Ave posted on Facebook

Tuesday 9/9/14 15 mins to work to heavy Snatch deadlift + snatch pull + snatch For time: 10 power cleans 185/125 20 burpee over bar 30 toe 2 bar 200ft farmers carry 55/35 30 toe 2 bar 20 burpee over bar 10 power cleans

CrossFit Center City shared a link on Facebook

Learn all about the newest cycle leading up to the CrossFit Total on Halloween! Deadlift and Strict Press Tuesday tomorrow!

CrossFit RDU shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Invoke shared an image on Facebook

Body Comp Challenge is in full swing. Be sure to make these next 12 weeks worth it! #cfinvoke #cfiathlete #cfibootycamp #crossfit #bodycomp #fat #relentlesslife #weighin #eatright #nutrition #goals #progress

CrossFit King of Prussia posted an article
CrossFit RDU posted an article
CrossFit Gastonia shared a link on Facebook

Tuesday's WOD

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

6pm cleanin' and dubbin'!

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

N'Sync! (See what I did there? Lol)

Breaking Point Fitness CrossFit Ridge Ave shared a link on Facebook

There is still space left to register for the Carl Paoli seminar at CrossFit Ridge Ave on September 20th from 9am-5pm. The seminar is $295 with discounts offered for CF Level 1 Certified Trainers, Educators, Military/Fire/Police/Rescue and USA Gymnastics members!

CrossFit 77 shared an image on Facebook

What an awesome start to our Let's Move class on Saturday September 6! Remember this class is free every Saturday from 10:30-11:30 bring your kids and their friends! We can't wait to see the turn out for this Saturday!

CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit 77 posted on Facebook

George just PR'd his back squat by 50lbs! 365# like a champ!

CrossFit Wake Forest posted on Facebook

9/9/2014 WOD: Push Press 3-3-3-3-3 Use the heaviest weight you can for each set. Rest as needed between sets. Then: 4 rounds for time of: Run, 200 m 10 Kettlebell Swings

CrossFit Wilmington posted an article
CrossFit Harrisburg posted on Facebook

Tues Back Squat (3x4 @ 80%, then 1 set for max reps) 15 mins to complete Metcon (Time) 4 Rounds 200m Run 40 double unders 300m Row Rest 1 min 2 for 1 du subs

CrossFit Invoke posted an article
CrossFit Focus posted on Facebook

Tons of new skills discovered for the 6 p.m. group today, especially those double-unders!

CrossFit Main Line posted an article
CrossFit Main Line posted an article
CrossFit Main Line posted an article
CrossFit Main Line posted an article
Raleigh CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Wilmington shared an image on Facebook

Everyone loves HSPUs @cfwilmington #wantmoredomore #strongereveryday

CrossFit LKN shared an image on Facebook

Big 9 am class this morning!

CrossFit Love shared a link on Facebook


CrossFit Love shared an image on Facebook

The Olympic Weightlifting seminar with Diane Fu is almost here! Have you registered?! Learn more about the Olympic lifts and what mistakes you may be making that are holding your PRs back! Check out the details and register TODAY!

CrossFit Wilmington shared an image on Facebook

Great job to Alison and all of our new members this summer!

judyjudyjudy published the post Why The Box Is Not Like Any Old Gym- Facing Fear and Finding Beauty At Crossfit on
"He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear. " ~Ralph Waldo...
Raleigh CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Main Line shared an image on Facebook

Beginning this week, YOGA will be offered at 10:30am on Tuesdays at CFML and Thursdays at CFR5. Come join us!

CrossFit Durham posted on Facebook

Welcome back to CFD athlete, and recent new MOM, Rachel Mason!

CrossFit RDU shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit RDU shared an image on Facebook

We will have WODbody Sports Massage in house here at CrossFit RDU this coming Wednesday. Appointment slots will be available from 3pm-8pm in 30min sessions or more. There will be a sign up sheet on the whiteboard. Check them out and we may make it a permanent fixture! $35 - 30 minutes $45 - 40 minutes $55 - 50 minutes $65 - 60 minutes

CrossFit RDU posted an article
CrossFit Exchange shared an image on Facebook

Achieving Excellence through competition helps us break through our own boundaries. From the coaches desk we are all proud of the athletes that came out, and more importantly for all of your help and support.

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

Ladies - check this out!

CrossFit Durham shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit 910 shared an image on Facebook

liftlaugheatrepeat published the post Secret Ingredient Paleo Meatloaf on
So my husband absolutely loves meatloaf, which is great because it's a relatively simple meal...
CrossFit Main Line shared a link on Facebook

Hey Main Liners and R5ers! Good news...beginning this Thursday, 9.11 at 6:30pm we are bringing in a Chiropractor a couple days a week for your aches, pains and general fitness recovery needs to CFML. The wonderful, Dr. Katzen will be scheduling free consultations and following up with necessary treatments. We could all use a little adjustment. Call today to schedule your appointment at CFML- 610-664-8330

CrossFit Coastal shared an image on Facebook

Congratulations to Brandon M for passing his CrossFit Level 1 Certification and also Head Coaches Phil & Kelly for completing / passing their CrossFit Kettlebell Certification this weekend! Continuing education is very important to us here at CrossFit Coastal. Your instructors are always in a constant state of learning new ways to serve you better. Proud of you!

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV