Heather at 2013 SoCal Regionals
What I Learned at My First CrossFit Regionals Competition
Written by Heather Hippensteel

Deep down, we all love to compete. Even if you say you’re “not competitive” or you don’t keep track of your reps or time during a workout, there is something inside of all of us that makes us want to be better. Whether you’re competing against others, or against the person you were yesterday, you are striving to beat something.  This not only brings out your best self, but it helps us to learn important lessons about ourselves and how we approach uncomfortable situations.  Competition can be a safe place to learn some amazing lessons.

I was recently lucky enough to compete on Team Invictus at the Southern California Regionals. It was my first CrossFit competition other than the Open. You could say I was pretty excited that I had the opportunity to compete! I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but every competition is different and there is always something to take away after a big event. I’d like to share some of the most important things I learned with you, and encourage you to consider what are the five most important things that you have learned through competing in some manner or another.

  1. Be Confident – This isn’t the kind of confident that makes you come across as that cocky person no one likes. It’s the confidence that allows you to channel your nerves and adrenaline into that workout that you know you are able to do. It helps you stay calm leading up to the “3-2-1, GO!” that is inevitable and listen only to that voice in your head that is saying “I CAN do this.” Be confident in yourself, in your teammates, and in your abilities.
  2. Do Your Best – That’s really all you can do and all that you can expect of yourself. Yes, strive to reach your goals and stick to a plan if you have one, but be prepared for something to happen that is out of your control. This could be getting no-repped by a judge, an injury, or slipping off the bar before you did all the reps you planned to do. Despite what happens, continue to give your best effort and just keep going. That’s what makes the competition a success—putting everything out there. You might not always get the result you want, but if you have done the best that you were able to under the circumstances, the goal has been reached. Getting down on yourself after a performance that did not go as planned only cultivates negative energy around you and your teammates. Do your best, stay positive, and the competition will be a success no matter what happens.
  3. Communicate – This was crucial to our success as a team. We communicate with each other every day in training, and it’s the same during an event. Knowing where your teammate is at during a workout, whether they are on their last rep, or if they are really struggling, is vital to completing the event. Talking during the workout keeps you connected to your teammate and thinking about the other person instead of yourself.  Words of encouragement do wonders when you start to feel fatigued. Cheers from our fans and simple cues from coaches are just what the athletes need, and we had all of that all weekend long.
  4. Support Each Other – Whether it was supporting our teammates before, during, or after an event, cheering for the other teams beside us, or being overwhelmed by the support from our fans and our coaches, that mutual support kept us going. Knowing that your teammate has your back no matter what happens is huge! The thought of letting my teammates down, or thinking “oh well what if…?” definitely crossed my mind a few times but there was no moment where I didn’t feel 100% supported. We also encouraged the other teams and cheered on the people we were competing against. They were pushing us to do our best and making the competition fun.
  5. Have Fun – This is the most important aspect of any competition to embrace. I kept telling myself over and over that this was just an opportunity to get out there and do what I love in front of people that were cheering us on. Nichole always reminds us before we compete to remember to have fun. And we sure did. I am blessed to be on a team that has fun every day during training, and competing is just our chance to be out there and see all of our hard work pay off.  Adding the competition to that just makes it even better…

Please share in comments the most important lessons that you have learned through competition.

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KatiaDominique (Mexico)MartyShaver Recent comment authors
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You are so awesome, Heather. It was great, motivating, and inspiring to see you do this (who does not get motivated seeing human beings push incredible heights?!) and even as a spectator on bleachers, just seeing you work through the pain and unfamiliarity of that new territory was astounding! You did it with humble and superlative bad-assedness. Nice to witness this impressive debut! Can you imagine a few seasons down the road…you writing ur insights and me reading them ; )?! 🙂 All the best…2013 season!

Dominique Milot
Dominique Milot

I learned to take a moment before each workout to take it all in and be present. The events go by so fast and the tunnel vision happens so quickly that you finish the workout and don’t even remember what happened! Each time I got on the floor, I took a moment to really look at the crowd, find my friends, introduce myself to my judge and smile at my fellow competitors…That way, when things got tough, I knew exactly where to look to find support. I can honestly say that even a month later, I remember each event clearly… Read more »


Glad I was able to catch this moment in time of you putting everything on the line at regionals. As an active spectator (losing my voice over the weekend), it was truly inspirational watching you and all the other Invictus athletes demonstrate the five items you mention throughout the weekend. While maybe not part of competition, there were many times during PDC (particularly when I was recovering from an injury) where I was struggling with a weight for a PR and I would start to doubt my physical ability, most of the gym would start shouting to show their support… Read more »


#1: “Your body can handle more than your mind thinks it can” – Josh Bridges, 10/31/2011 This posting by Josh had a lasting impact on me, and I’ve found it to be 100% true numerous times during workouts. #2: The support and encouragement that you give to, and receive from, your peers/partners/coaches is invaluable in helping to break through the “mental barrier”. When my mind is screaming “quit”, or “take a breather”, oftentimes it’s that person standing in front of me screaming “don’t quit”, or “c’mon Shaver” that pushes me to keep working. And when I do manage to break… Read more »