All of your CrossFit coaches are from different backgrounds and different experiences and I am no different. I have spent the last 11 years coaching college wrestling. I have worked with, mentored, and coached athletes who have made world and Olympic teams as well as been a combat athlete myself for the past 20 years, and there is one saying that I often hear in my sport, “Don’t lose the white belt mentality.”
Now stay with me if you don’t know what I mean. In all combat sports like karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, taekwondo and Judo, colored belts are used to rank an individual’s skill and status in the sport. Everyone starts out with a white belt across all combat sports; over time, you move up in color moving from white to yellow, green, orange, until you hit the high levels of blue, purple, brown, black and red.
Are you wondering what this has to do with CrossFit, a sport where no one wears a belt unless you’re deadlifting or squatting heavy and you want that extra support? Belt colors have to do with CrossFit in relation to an athlete’s mindset. When someone says, “Don’t lose the white belt mentality” they are referring to not losing the open-mindedness, willingness and ability to learn from anyone, including every coach and athlete around you.
For me, the best way an experienced athlete can exhibit a white belt mentality is to always believe you have something to learn. Very often you see people in higher belt mentalities get into a rut and not think that they have anything else to learn or they may turn away knowledge and experience simply because it may hurt their ego. It’s important to be open to learning and realize that everyone has something to teach us. As a coach, being able to accept my own shortcomings is the first step to growth because it opens the door for me to continue to develop. I love taking classes run by other coaches and learning how they greet their class, what their workout approach is, and taking away strategies that I can later incorporate into my own coaching.
Do you embody a white belt mentality? If yes, how? If not, why not? The bottom line is the white belt mentality isn’t about lack of experience. It’s about a lack of pretentiousness, seeing things with an open mind and enjoying them for what they are. Here are some ways you can bring a white belt mentally to your next CrossFit class!
1. Be on time or early to class
2. Sign in to class
3. Listen to your coach during the start of class
4. Embrace the warm-up and give it your all
5. Listen to your body and your coach
6. Listen and apply the strategies for the WOD
7. Be open minded about who you can learn from
8. Give your best effort!