When incompetent isn't an insult

This isn’t an article that will bash CrossFit, strength and conditioning or the constant exploration of the boundaries of human potential by ordinary people.

This is an article exploring the ideas surrounding awareness and competence.  Feel free to relate it to your own fitness journey.  Feel free to relate it to your chosen profession, whether that’s CrossFit coaching or being a doctor.

Everyone everywhere has a level of awareness about any given topic.

Everyone everywhere has a level of competence within any given task.


Viewed as a graphic, it looks like this:

Let’s use times tables within maths as an example.   Before you go to school and start to learn you have no awareness of what maths is and consequently you can’t do any maths, therefore you can be viewed as unconsciously incompetent.  You discover numbers.

As you develop and start to do some maths lessons you become aware of maths but you aren’t yet competent and make mistakes so move towards the consciously incompetent area of the graph.  You begin the process of learning how the numbers work together.

More deliberate practice and focus helps move you towards conscious competence, where you still have to concentrate on the questions but are getting the answers right more often than not.  Disciplined effort is required.

Time spent grooving these patterns start to make things much more automatic so that problems that would’ve once upon a time baffled you are solved without conscious thought – the zone of unconscious competence.  You skillfully apply your skills within maths.

Watch any great sports person at work – they appear to make decisions without thinking and invariably make the right choice.  The old doctor who has seen virtually every medical condition under the sun can quickly diagnose without having to look up symptoms and treatments.  Musicians who can pick up instruments and within a couple of minutes learn a new song probably can’t explain how they do it, but they do.

A more detailed version of the previous graphic:

cycle of competence - unaware -  w title.gif

What are the take home messages from this article?

  • When you are new to something in the gym accept that it will take time to become skilled at it.  Not being able to do something may just mean you’ve never seen it before.
  • When you know someone is newer at something you should give them time to practice and focus so that they can move along in their progressions.  They’ll thank you in the long run.
  • Every new task and environment presents an opportunity for you to be unconsciously incompetent and start to move forwards with your progression towards mastery.  Seek to be incompetent, get out of your comfort zone and develop yourself.
  • Consider how the concepts discussed in this previous article might apply as you try and make progress.


Why do we write blog posts?

“Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it” - Harper Lee


Why are we writing things? Why should you read them? What is the purpose of it? Want to know answers? Read on...

The coaching team at SCCF put their heads, knowledge, experience and time into research into topics to inform our gym population with important information for you to read, understand and ask questions about. It is also for you to apply in your sessions at SCCF. We do it because it makes you safer, better and gives us more time to coach you rather than have to spend time explaining basic things over and over again. This takes away from the time spent perfecting your movement.

We also like to see people raise questions about the intricacies of strength training or conditioning bias and we could debate about this for eternity, however, any coach worth their salt would tell you that it is only through experiment, failure and evolution that we know what works for us. Therefore, we implore you to heed the advice, suggestions and knowledge that the coaching team try to impart upon you, and ask you to put them into action as well. We do not expect you to take it as the gospel truth, but would like you to think about it, engage with it and practice it when you can. This applies to verbal cues, videos we post as well as the blogs we write.

So to summarise, try to listen to what we write, say and show. Apply it to your training and you will see results as well as allow us to increase the time spent coaching you through more demanding movements or ideas instead of revisiting the basics all the time.


Wild West Wrap Up


So the bars have been thrown around, the ‘Cross’ has been ‘fitted’ and the chalk has settle on what turned out to be an incredible weekend at Wild West in beautiful Malvern. The only thing rivalling the relentless work rate of our SCCF pack was the ferocious support that everyone had for their mates in the crucible (competition floor). 

It's at events like these that our box gets to see the true extent of the relationships forged in and outside classes and the willingness to suffer for our friends and teammates. There have been too many fantastic performances that one simply cannot wish to name them all, but those who were there saw the environment the bonding, the support and the success that this weekend brought! It is safe to say all competitors, spectators and judges did SCCF so proud! Plus we were among the best represented box out of all the boxes that came to the event… so we've got something to work on for next year ;)


SCCF Desperados

SCCF Donuts & Deadlifts

SCCF The Barbarians

SCCF Forging Elite Fatness

SCCF The Amrappers


Special mentions and performances:

All of our teams will take home some special moments they experienced this weekend, but here we shall share some:

  • Ash, Rich & Anj all took this opportunity to expand their horizons over the weekend by doing their first ever external CrossFit competition. For Anj it was her first ever competitive sports competition in general. All three had a great attitude, commitment and smashed through some very tough workouts. Team captain Yolande offering some fiery displays of performance and encouragement along with some very well earned gurns!
  • Sian and her team placed very high overall and had a number of well versed athletes in its arsenal. Craig & Grant made light work of all deadlifts, dumbbell lunges and killed the barbell in the final workout. Kerry and Sian didn't disappoint with Sian giving everything on many workouts, mainly in the sled drag workout which she will be feeling for many days to come (show her a sandbag and a sled and she might just kick you). Kerry gave the team her all and brought her calm and collected style which allowed her team to put up some big scores.
  • Gary, Tess, Martin and Katie all knew they were there to do work and that they did. Amazing feats of strength, endurance and encouragement oozed from this team. Tess brought out the big guns on the dumbbell lunge, whilst Katie got stuck in like a pro and gave her all in every workout she could. M’burg made light work of all calf powered movements and helped his team get some fantastic results. Gary, what more can be said about him except he provided banter, support, advice and performance in equal measure to create a well rounded team. 
  • Mike led his team to finish in the top quarter of teams overall (out of 124 teams total). Not surprisingly Charlee and Sam Leechman combined forces with Mike to produce a force not to be reckoned with, which produced result after result leaving other boxes in their dust. This was also interweaved with having some laughs and drinks with the whole gang between dominating workouts. Kudos also goes to them for having matching team shirts that also related to their team name (Donuts & Deadlifts. See photos to illustrate my point) 
  • Dre, Lianne, Jon (from CF Solihull) and Gaz G put their heart and soul into every workout and had many laughs during the way. From discovering Vitas - 7th Element (pop it into the Youtube machine and go give it a listen) to warming up by doing Zumba for the synchro burpees this team had a blast! 

Blood, sweat and tears were all seen this weekend as well as a cocktail of mixed emotions which speaks to the power of teamwork and not wanting to let the team down. One thing to remember, we win as a team, we lose as a team, but we always leave still as a team. I think I speak for all teams when I say all teams wouldn't have traded anyone of their teammates this weekend for anyone else! 

Now lets see what members said about their own experiences:

“Being my first one, I didn't know what to expect, it was tough, tough, tough, but it was amazing to be there with the amazing SCCF crew”


“I think it was amazing seeing people achieve things they thought they wouldn't or couldn't. Like Rich getting not just his first handstand push up but another 2 after that! Ash thinking he couldn't do overhead 32kg kettlebell swings and then smashing them out! Not to mention all the strength and determination of everyone dragging that damn sled and stupid sandbag across that field! Everyone gave it everything! Not to mention the fantastic support from the SCCF crew. I love our box, it's just the best”


“Loved the team spirit, inclusiveness, camaraderie and friendly atmosphere. It was tough though, maybe I'm surprised I've not been put off the whole thing!”

“Stupid Sandbag”

“I loved it! I think going into your first competition you don't really know what to expect, so the nerves are a weird feeling. Then seeing the WODs I was like holy crap, I'm going to suck at this! But I found it a great experience, the team were amazing, and it's a nice buzz to have the box cheering you on. I've surprised myself and have also given myself insight for what I need to develop”

“Great comp and weekend where athletes of all fitness, shapes and sizes could take part! PS.....Burpees were rough! The sandbag was rough! Thank you everyone for cheering me on to get through them!”

“Yeah I got to admit, there ain't another great bunch like us!”

“Just so proud of you all!!!!”

Until the next one then team! Train hard, play hard!