July 08, 2011
Jeff Barnett explains how facial expressions can give good trainers valuable insight into each athlete.
I took the name of this article from a book by John Keegan. The book describes three epic battles: Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme. For me, the centerpiece was the Battle of Agincourt, a 15th-century English victory over the French during the Hundred Years’ War. Keegan’s message about Agincourt was clear: war is ugly. It’s full of mud and rain and broken wagons and body parts and shit and piss and blood and dead animals and dead people—stacks of dead people. Friction assails you at every opportunity, making the easy difficult and the difficult seemingly impossible.
Yep, sounds a lot like CrossFit.
As a trainer at CrossFit Impulse, I get to witness a different face of battle every day as my athletes attack the WOD. I can tell much about an athlete’s expectations and mental state during a WOD by his facial expressions, mannerisms and actions. Expectations and mental state are large drivers of performance in competitive and high-intensity activities. If I can perceive what an athlete is thinking or what he is feeling, then perhaps I can coach him in the right direction. Furthermore, it gives me insight into an athlete’s psyche: how the athlete views himself, the WOD, the world—everything.