Seeing Is Believing: 4 Tips For The Cognitively Clumsy

“You look like you’re trying to do both moves at once.” “I don’t know even know what that is.” “Your other right, Erin.”

I am no stranger to cues like this. My visual comprehension sucks. I can watch you do something right in front of me, nod my head when asked if I get it, then proceed to perform it completely wrong. The sad thing is half the time I feel like my body did exactly as instructed, when instead it was being a little jerk saboteur.

No tears here. I’ve accepted the fact that learning a complex movement, e.g. any olympic lift, is a slower process for me than many of my Crossfit buddies. I need many, many instances of seeing and feeling something done correctly before it sinks in.

You know what’s great for that? Mirrors. You know what Crossfit gyms pride themselves on not having? Mirrors. This is great for the “we’re here to work” vibe and all, but not people like me.

If you are as ass backwards as me, a few of the following techniques may help.

1) Ask the coach to repeat the move for you

Other people might grasp the coach’s demonstration while tying their shoe. Don’t worry about other people. And don’t worry about sounding like the slow kid in class by asking for special attention. Your coach is there to help everyone get the moves right and they probably aren’t being asked as many questions as they should be about technique. Approach them before or after the WOD to ask for your own demo, or a breakdown of the components of the movement one by one.

2) Videotape yourself

Friends help friends with technique. And they’re great for taking videos while you practice. My favorite app made just for this purpose is Coach’s Eye. Use it to capture video and mark it up like an NFL coach with a humbling series of lines and circles. It’s great for diagnosing the flaws you don’t feel in the moment, and for post-gym studying.

coach's eye photo

3) Watch technique videos. A lot.

You can’t hang out on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram without stumbling over someone posting their latest 200lb snatch. Watch the good ones until you can pick out the bad ones. Your challenge is to build that mental memory the same way you work on your muscle memory.

4) Do unweighted drills in front of a mirror

No mirror at the box, no problem. Station yourself in front of a full length at home, armed with a PVC, broom, or similar. Run through that snatch or clean progression while devoting your full attention to your form. Keep a technique video handy to refer to during breaks to reset your mental memory between sets.

Bonus: My new favorite visual aid is this collaboration between Diane Fu and Push Press, who’ve made it available for free download here. We like our lifts pretty!

PushPress-Fu-1600px