Thursday, February 11, 2010


Whac-A-Mole is an arcade redemption game. A typical Whac-A-Mole machine consists of a large, waist-level cabinet with five holes in its top and a large, soft, black mallet. Each hole contains a single plastic mole and the machinery necessary to move it up and down. Once the game starts, the moles will begin to pop up from their holes at random. The object of the game is to force the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet, thereby adding to the player's score. The more quickly this is done the higher the final score will be.

So what does this Whac-A-Mole game have to do with CrossFit and why am I talking about it??? I reached a conclusion the other day that CrossFit training is a lot like Whac-A-Mole. At least MY training is a lot like Whac-A-Mole.

I know what my weaknesses are. I do the daily WOs, but then I do more, either before or after the daily WO. I do additional WOs that focus on my weaknesses. Sometimes the additional WO does not interfere with the daily prescribed WO, sometimes it does. Luck of the draw… But I train my weaknesses, so that I can get stronger, faster, more agile, etc.

Here is where the Whac-A-Mole game comes in. In training my weaknesses I get stronger in those areas. But in focusing on those weaknesses, some other skills, speed, strength, diminishes. WHAC!!! Why??? Why does this happen? Is it because of the intense focus in one very specific area??? When focusing on one area, do I tend to not focus so much in other areas? Are those the areas that diminish? As I focus in on the current mole, it disappears as I hit it, and another pops up.

Here’s an example. Double unders. Definitely a skill. A skill I had recently acquired. I was not the best at double-unders, but I could do nearly 20 without missing. I had practiced my double unders, in addition to the daily WOs. I practiced them so that I could acquire the skill. As I acquired the skill, I no longer practiced as much as I had previously. Double unders were appearing more often in my WOs, so I was getting some practice, but not the focused practice. I started to put my intentional focus on other areas. And I got stronger in those areas. While I got stronger in those areas, my double-unders got worse. WHAC! My double unders got so bad that I could only do one or two at a time. WHAC! So what gives? Why did the skill go away? It nearly went away over night!

So now I need to re-focus on Double unders. And what will go away if I re-focus on double-unders? What will go away??? And how can I focus on double unders and everything else that I need to do to improve my additional weaknesses? What mole will pop up while I am pounding the mallet on the double unders? WHAC! WHAC! WHAC! WHAC!

Post your thoughts to Comments.

Play an online version of Whac-A-Mole


Anonymous said...


Tamra said...

You hit it on the head, so to speak, but isn't that the beauty of GPP instead of specialization? I bet you get your DU back faster than it took you to learn them the first time AND the other stuff you have been working on stays a bit stronger too. Any way you look at it, you are a great athlete because you are constantly looking to look, feel and perform better and you find joy in the quest. That's one of the attributes that is so great about you. Keep up the good work and use a bigger sledge hammer in the Whac-a-mole quest, it'll improve your GPP. *grin*

Lauriel said...

Tamra, so true!

And the DUs are coming back. Found a new bounce!