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Training Adaptive Athletes: Part 1


As coaches, we often find our creativity and skill set challenged by the limitations and strengths of our athletes. These scenarios force us to grow and expand our tool box to accommodate the needs of a given situation.  Usually, this comes in the form of some common outliers - unusually strong/weak athletes, athletes undergoing rehabilitation, youth athletes, older athletes, etc.

However, when confronted with adaptive athletes, oftentimes coaches find themselves at a loss.  There is very little information and resources for catering training to these special populations but when I came across adaptive athlete, coach, and author Travis Pollen, I knew I had struck gold.

In my interview with Travis, I ask the obvious and not so obvious questions about training individuals with paralysis, amputations, and other physical barriers. The answers were above and beyond what I expected.  In Part 1, Travis helps empower coaches through knowledge and understanding of adaptive athletes, while in Part 2 we will dive into the physical training approach. The process starts by recognizing that we are all, in our own way, adaptive athletes.


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A strength and conditioning coach since 2009, Cali has worked with numerous athletes spanning from rugby players to cross country skiers.Almost immediately after finding CrossFit in 2010, she was introduced to a program that better suited her athletic goals.With her existing background in powerlifting and football, she became a natural devotee to CFFB/PowerAthlete and testament to it's effectiveness.In 2012, she left D.C. and headed for the state named after her to be a part of the CrossFit Football Seminar Staff and a Jedi of Power Athlete HQ. Cali currently resides in Seattle where she works full time in law enforcement.

Posted in Blog, Coaching, Featured, Programming | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Responses to Training Adaptive Athletes: Part 1

  1. Cali-
    Thanks for the great article! I have recently become more interested in helping this population, with more performance goals, rather than just rehab (I’m a PT). I recently spent some time listening to, and competing against some guys from Team Some Assembly Required, who are stud adaptive athletes. It was awesome to see a guy who has an above the knee amputation Deadlift 350#. He then also hit >1000 watts on a tendo bench press at 185#. Pretty cool.

    One question for you: as a lady, scholar and power athlete, do you have any recommendations for convincing a young lady (my wife) that going to the CFFB cert would be a good idea? She doesn’t quite understand my obsession with strength training. She would rather spend the $$ on new floors. Thanks for any advice. I try to live by the “happy wife, happy life” mantra

    • That is crazy. What a cool experience seeing that awesome performance.

      Holy shit. Where do I begin.

      I’m assuming your wife trains and is “into” strength training to some degree. Women are people and people are motivated by results. If you tell her she will get stronger with the tools she learns at the seminar, that might be a good start. However, some chicks just aren’t interested in the “why’s” and “how’s” of training. You can promise her that at the very least, she will walk away excited about her training in a way she hadn’t been. It always reinvigorates people and empowers them to start to focus on the parts that work for their goals and cut the shit that is just fluff.

      Sounds to me like your wife may never share the weird obsession that is commonplace on this site/forum. You have to be ok with that. Maybe a DIY could save some money and then you can make both happen. When I “needed” new floors in my kitchen, I jack hammered that shit, poured and leveled some stained concrete, and then rented a polishing machine and sealed it. The good news is I saved a lot of money and learned that I can live without new floors for the rest of my life.

      Good luck, dude!

  2. Great article. I spoke with Travis earlier today and had a great conversation with him. Looking forwards to the 2nd part of this!

  3. Wow, Cali. Impressive. Your story about pouring concrete floored me.

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