As the coach for our FIRST Games team, I have had a couple days to reflect on the weekend as a whole, as well as some thoughts on everything in between, from athletes to events to preparation.
Here’s what I observed:
— Scoring this year for teams was emphasized much more on individual’s performances and male vs. female team performances. In addition, the ordering of how work was completed also impacted teams who had weaker players. In the past, more team-based work was prescribed, so you could hide some of those weaker players.
— To have a top team you need great CrossFitters who have great endurance. The best teams had all six athletes carrying the same essence (endurance / grinders). In my eyes, athletes, like OPEX’s Jim Crowell, looked like super stars out there because of the grind required. Generally speaking, the teams need more grinders.
—Top teams this year who carried strong individual REGIONAL competitors didn’t finish well—ultimately, the bottom line: they need to be enduring too.
— Froning’s team won this year by their male team crushing their male events; The males placed 1st in the solo events!
— Girls need to be tall, strong and gymnasty.
–Power really isn’t tested in team –Seal Fit training and Muscle endurance is…
— Teams need to practice synchronized swimming with objects more than once…
–Athletes need to be able to run, period.
—The best teams train together year round
—The Earth Worm workout in the stadium, where the team had to run up the stairs, didn’t favor teams in lanes 6-14
I look forward to this next season.
– Coach Robin Lyons
July 31, 201
Coach James Taylor
Observational Trends in Fitness Athletes
This past weekend I had the opportunity to make a trip to California and observe athletes competing in the CF Games as a spectator while team OPEX Red competed as well. For the first time at the Games, I watched more of the team competition than the individual competition. I saw on a big stage not only the very best of the best competing this time, though those few elite were there as well. Of course, I’ve had the chance to watch athletes at the Open level completing workouts at OPEX here in Scottsdale and at the Regional level in the South Region for years, too. Over time, I’ve noticed some trends emerge in fitness athletes as my eye for movement has been refined through trial and error in lots of program designs and competitions. Additionally, athletes’ training ages in general are getting higher within the sport and therefore there is more individual susceptibility to biases in coaching that they have received, training they have done, or movements tested for which to be prepared in their chosen sport. Here are some of my noticings about the state of preparedness and execution of fitness athletes that can be improved upon.
1.Eccentric Control in Bending
In the sport, there is a lot of emphasis on completing reps, which is obvious and incontrovertible, but the paradigm created by the testing protocols that have been implemented over time is that the concentric phase of movement is king. However, for an athlete to reach their potential in concentric movements, they should obtain high proficiency in the eccentric phase of those movements as well, and this can be overlooked by athletes and coaches. Sure, there is emphasis on the eccentric phase of movement sometimes in competition such as when an athlete’s depth in squatting is judged or full lockout between reps in hanging based movements is required, but often there is no requirement for eccentric control in upper body barbell pressing movements and lower body barbell bending based movements. This categorization includes Olympic lifts as well as other deadlift variations. For the athlete who needs to be strong holistically, ignoring eccentric control in the large global movement pattern of barbell based bending leaves many athletes imbalanced and this shows up as inefficient movement subtly and often.
2. Straight-arm Strength
Similar to the lack of eccentric control in some movements, in large part created by the paradigm of the testing environment, here we are basically talking about another case of movement that’s not concentric based. There are all types of straight-arm strength to which I’m referring that are all specific to the position and loading parameters involved. For functional fitness athletes, straight-arm strength is mostly not tested in isolation, but it shows up often with other functional movement patterns. The most important factor in realizing the importance of straight-arm strength for athletes is that training it follows the principle of training from core to extremity for many movements that are not often considered straight-arm movements, such as rope climbs and handstand pushups. Training for balance in strength at the scapula from straight-arm movements will help many athletes’ performance over time in movements traditionally considered to be bent-arm movements, as bent-arm strength starts with shoulder strength. Two straight-arm movements that I find especially potent for fitness athletes and in which proficiency played a big part in success for individuals on the main stage on Sunday at the Games were heavy Farmer’s Walks at high intensity and short distances, and single arm OHS (squat snatch) at high loading. These movements are great to test for individuals and will likely have a trickle-down effect of showing up at other competitions over time.
Certain types of equipment are fine to be used for training and competition to get a better training stimulus and improved competitive advantage. However, some of the equipment that can be used in competition, such as belts, knee sleeves, weightlifting shoes, and wrist wraps, seem overused in training environments. This equipment has various beneficial aspects to its use for performance, but one thing that all of these pieces of equipment have in common is that they help eliminate unwanted range of motion and can take up the slack in movement patterns. It’s no doubt important to use in practice what you’ll use in competition, but with too much reliance on equipment away from major competitions, an athlete can lose some range of motion and stability in movement by never training it since the equipment replaces the need for an athlete to have that range of motion or stability. Overuse of weightlifting shoes can lead to silent arches and anterior tibias, and overuse of belts can lead to suboptimal breathing in movements and core bracing that’s weaker without the belt. I believe that these pieces of equipment can play an important role in competitive advantage, but for the intelligent athlete, their use may be best periodized to some extent relative to competitions.
Noticing From The Games; Scoring Potential
1 750 Tia-Clair Toomey
2 736 Katrin Davidsdottir
3 703 Kara Webb
4 689 Sara Signmundsdottir
5 681 Sam Briggs
6 661 Chyna Cho
7 636 Lindsey Valenzuela
8 620 Margaux Alvarez
9 616 Amanda Goodman
10 569 Emily Abbott
The rankings above are how the 2015 CrossFit Games COULD HAVE unfolded with MINOR tweaks to scoring methods. If you watched the Sunday finale, suffice it to say, the pegboard proved difficult for the majority of female competitors. Out of the remaining 37-competitior-field, three completed all three pegboard repetitions, two completed two pegboard repetitions, and seven completed one pegboard repetition. This left a MASSIVE tie for 13th-place amongst twenty-five individuals NOT completing a single pegboard repetition.
In an alternative scoring method, where the 13th-place tie is given 0-points versus 54-points in PTTM1, you see how drastically the leaderboard shifts. Notably a different champ is crowned and Kara Webb stands on the podium.
And to be clear, the 13th-place tie is being given 0-points because they failed to complete a single successful repetition. In previous events, namely the clean and jerk max, when competitors failed to complete a repetition they received 0-points. For instance, Ben Garard, Travis Williams, and Joe Scali all failed to complete a successful attempt. Instead of receiving 8-points on a tie for 36th-place, they all received 0 points. (Side note; imagine if Matt Fraser misses his second attempt on the clean and jerk max. He then joins the other gentlemen with 0-points. All only things being equal Fraser ends the competition with 795 overall points, still finishing second in the Games, mind you. However, the drama around a podium race is negligible as Ben Smith truly walks away with the title at 915 overall points).
I liked the scoring system this year. It rewarded exponential points to top finishers and allowed for major shifts across the leaderboard. I simply think PPTM1 was poorly conceived and no one in Games management saw the tie-breaker coming at that scale. Perhaps even a last minute call was made during PTTM2 in terms of how to handle scoring of 13th-place; 54-points each or 0-points each?
Let me know your thoughts on this.
– Coach Matt Springer
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