This article is for all CrossFit gym owners, Strength and Conditioning Coaches, and anyone who values their members and athletes. I am writing this from my perspective, as a coach at Cascade CrossFit and CrossFit Basic in Washington State. I have been a Strength and Conditioning coach for the last 15 years have been coaching CrossFit for the past year. Currently, I train professional football players, olympic athletes and many general population athletes. In the past 15 years, I have had amazing opportunities to learn from some of the top Strength, Powerlifting, Weightlifting and CrossFit coaches in the country. I hope to share with you, my community, how multiple CrossFit Football seminars have changed my perspective on properly preparing all professional or amateur athletes for CrossFit, sport, and most importantly, life.
Being the typical veteran strength and conditioning coach, I thought I knew just about everything I needed to know to be a great coach. I had a dynamic warm up protocol that was athlete specific which would make anyone look, feel, and perform for any endeavor…or at least I thought I could. I decided to enroll in a CFFB seminar to learn and confirm my training practices. Enter John Welbourn and the CFFB staff. First I was struck by the depth of knowledge and attention to detail when warming up an athlete. The teachings for programing specific sport or goal rivaled any workshops I had attended in the industry. The incorporation of true functional and stabilization movements to not only asses athletes, but to help an athlete begin to organize their body from head to toe was thorough and proven. CFFB laid out each process and progression that addressed each particular movement pattern and the biomechanics involved with the pattern. Unique use of a simple warm-up to initiate movement patterns in a very specific way made me take a step back and analyze what I had been led to believe. I was challenged to rethink what an optimal warm up, program and cool down really consisted of. The teachings were based in science and backed by results.
The exercises and protocols I was learning from the CFFB staff were far beyond my expectations of the training. Let’s get real…I was at a Crossfit Football seminar not a world renowned Strength & Conditioning convention. I would normally pay a couple thousand dollars to have the “top” S&C guys tell me their new gimmick or book was the sh$t. Only to find out that I needed to buy their dvd set and tool kit for $500 and then I would be considered a functional coach. To my surprise, the CFFB seminar was packed full of valuable information that was ahead of its time. I would have happily paid more than the entrance fee as the training was worth it. John Welbourn, through his experience with Division 1 College Football and the NFL, had developed a vast coaching network. It seems that his passion for strength training, coupled with the experienced network of coaches, led him to the ultimate program for building world class athletes. Even more importantly, the general population can use and benefit from this program to optimally prepare his/her body for training. This seminar should be renamed to “everything you ever needed to know about optimal training, programming, and movement workshop.”
As a coach, I have a responsibility to each and everyone of my athletes. Like a medical professional my first goal is to do no harm. Safety is my top priority. My second goal is to help increase their quality of life. Lastly, encourage and train them to be better than they were the day before. Maybe those are simplistic, but those are my values. For an athlete to be better, I needed to do the small things better. It’s easy to train a professional athlete with ridiculous genetics to lift with proper form and function. But how do I get Grandma Sue into proper form? Sue’s daughter convinced her to try Crossfit, because of the benefits she had received. This is the toughest task as a coach, to change years of poor movement patterns and habits.
The CFFB seminar offered applicable techniques to teach Grandma Sue proper mechanics through the use of repetition in the warm-up. I found these easy to put into action and did so immediately, knowing that the Central Nervous System can be activated and trained in the warm up with repetition of these new exercises. I can recall the days when I was a lazy coach and I wrote a warm-up on the whiteboard like the following: 4 rounds: 5 goblet squats, 5 shoulder pass throughs, 5 overhead squats, 5 burpees and a 200m run… I failed my athletes and missed a crucial opportunity to retrain their brain and body.
The warm up is so much more than an activity to increase body temp. It is more than an opportunity to get the athletes’ central nervous system to fire the appropriate muscles, in turn, organizing their spine to move through space safely. This is my opportunity to train movement patterns, develop posture, and position. I learned innumerable techniques and cues at the CFFB seminar and though I didn’t realize it at the time, but the value of the training was beyond the cost. Ignorance is far more expensive than the training. I think about every member I potentially hurt because my warm ups were non-productive and my programming was misguided. Those athletes and my business paid the ultimate price. This is how Crossfit can get a dangerous reputation, because one person will influence ten people to stay away. This can be solved by investing the time and money into your own personal coaching development.
How do you become a better coach? First ask yourself, who is your coach? If you’re going to be a great coach, then you will need at least one mentor if not multiple mentors. The Crossfit community has done an excellent job of aligning themselves with some of the best coaches and subject matter experts in the field. They can help improve your coaching ability and provide mentorship. Attend a weekend seminar, be trained by experts, reach out to them as a resource, and network with other coaches. This is the single greatest advice I can give to all coaches, regardless of the sport. Never stop learning! Always keep reading and learning from other coaches. Being a S&C coach for 15 years, my thoughts and philosophies have evolved every year as new research is revealed and new techniques are shared. When you are passionate about something you will eat, sleep, and breathe information. When I signed up for the CFFB seminar, I made the decision to change my coaching prowess and the outcome of every member and athlete I that have been fortunate enough to train. I have now attended several CFFB seminars (I recommend to attend one every 6 months as you will want a refresher to digest the information and be inspected for proper coaching).
You care about your members and athletes. You have a responsibility to help them perform in their sport or simply live a longer and healthier life. Never stop learning and listening to coaches that can help you become better.
I am the COO of Power Athlete, co-host of Power Athlete Radio, and a Power Athlete Coach. I've been coaching athletes, training clients, and educating 1,000s of coaches around the globe since 2007. I'm a lifelong multisport athlete, but my focus was football up through college where a neck injury forced me to hang it up.
Now I'm a stickler for productivity, and have a burning desire to empower athletes, coaches, and every day people who are striving to be better versions of themselves.
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