Fail Better

elizabeth-handstand-walk-crossfit-games_thumbI had another CrossFit-epiphany-that-translates-to-life moment last week when I was doing a one-on-one session with Matt.

The warm-up was 3 rounds (not for time) of 30 seconds L-hang, 12 Russian kettlebell swings (20kg-24kg-28kg), and then to accumulate the equivalent of 4 mat lengths of handstand walks in however many attempts I needed.

I love and hate handstand walks.  I love them because they are fun, they look cool, and given my gymnastics background, they came more easily to me than I’m sure they do for many others.  That being said, I also hate them because I feel like I have no control over whether I do them well or do them poorly.  I will kick up six times in a row and only hold it for a couple of seconds and then I will kick up the 7th time and walk a full mat length with ease.  There is no consistency in my handstand walking.  It feels like a total crapshoot.

During this particular session, I was kind of sucking.  And I was getting frustrated.  I wouldn’t even make it to the walking portion for at least half of my attempts because I couldn’t get into a solid handstand in the first place.  I attribute this suckiness to two things:

1) Not kicking up hard enough

2) Looking at my hands instead of keeping my chin tucked

I do both of these things for the same reason – I am scared of falling over backwards.  I don’t want to overshoot my handstand in the first place, so I kick up too conservatively most of the time and don’t even make it to the full handstand.  Then, once I am actually in the handstand and am attempting to walk, I feel like I have to see where I am going and what my hands are doing, so I watch my hands instead of tucking my chin.

Finally, Matt said to me, “Kayla – fail better.”

failbetter1Some coaching cues are impactful and others aren’t.  All Matt had to say were those three words, and I got it.  I was failing because I was too scared of falling to give full effort – hence, my partial handstands over and over again.  I was playing it safe and it was costing me success.  Better to fall over because I kicked up too hard than to never make it to the full handstand in the first place.  Better to take only a few steps with perfect form (head tucked) than to make it across the mat using poor form (looking at where I was going).  After Matt said that, I kicked up and walked about 1.5 mat lengths.  Boom!

Despite my gymnastics background, being upside down is uncomfortable, and the thought of falling is scary.  Can’t the same be said of life?  Sometimes I find myself tempted to play it safe because I am seeking to minimize the amount of discomfort I am in or to avoid the opportunity to fall/fail.  So I half-ass things.  I give enough effort to make it look like I’m trying, but deep down I know I am not fully committed – because I’m scared.  My second bad habit comes into play too – needing to see where I am going.  In handstands, I compromise my handstand form for the comfort of being able to see my hands and where I am going.  If life could accommodate that need for me to be able to see everything that lies ahead before I reach it, wouldn’t that be nice?  Sometimes, you just have to trust that if everything is in the right place, you will end up getting where you need to go – whether it’s walking on your hands or moving through life.

The totally ludicrous thing is, I know how to fall out of a handstand.  The few times I have actually started falling over backwards, my automatic instinct was to gracefully pirouette out of it.  Seriously.  No messy flop to the ground.  I literally pirouette sideways out of the handstand and land like I just finished a floor routine.  And yet my fear of falling persists!  But aren’t there also plenty of times in my life where I have been scared to do something only to see everything work out?  And yet when confronted with the same or similar situation again in the future, the fear remains – despite the fact that it was unjustified the last time I faced it.

I don’t suppose this is really all that different from what I said a couple posts ago about fully committing to something before I start it.  Set intention.  Give full effort.  If I am going to do it, then do it right.  At least I know I will either a) be successful or b) be failing better.

Doing it right is something I learned a lot about at the CrossFit Level 1 Course this past weekend, so more to come on that!




One Comment Add yours

  1. Kenton Kelly says:

    Good stuff.

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