The Role of Specialty Coaches


Alright guys, this is Adrian and welcome to the Brute Shoot. We’re going to do some a little bit different today and we’re going to discuss some topics that are out there in the CrossFit community people are buzzing about; you know things that are going on in the gym, outside the gym at the CrossFit Games and just in life in general. We want to address a little bit of that today specifically we’re going to talk about the role of the specialty coach in the CrossFit community. Some people are out there that believe, you can take athletes to the very highest level in the absence of specialty coaching. Myself, I consider myself a decent crossfit coach I really care about all the athletes that I get an opportunity to work with but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily intrinsically embody all the characteristics necessarily in order to take everyone that I coach the CrossFit Games. I would love to think that, but it’s not necessarily the truth and I think essentially what we need to consider is where did crossfit originate. Coach Glassman had this great idea and creating a general physical preparedness strength conditioning program right so it looked like him training a group, a small group that eventually turn into a large group of athletes and teaching them a slew of skills and obviously getting them in really fit and conditioned shape throughout that journey. Now obviously him coaching, spread the growth of a lot of other coaches that would also take on a role similar to his. In chasing this idea of creating an athlete that was prepared for anything and while that serves great value we have to take a look at what the CrossFit Games has been done to that general physical preparedness approach or attitude and coach Glassman himself obviously had a background in gymnastics so I’m sure that he actually had a very refined knowledge and experience base in regards to teaching people spatial awareness and the technicalities of things like a muscle up, like handstand walking or as simple as handstand holds, you name it. I’m sure that he felt as though he could almost gain people the capacity to master that. From perspective of someone that’s not a gymnast you might have a little bit of lacking foundation and the ability to take an athlete past maybe your own athletic ability and so when the CrossFit Games started back in you know 2007 and they kicked off everyone could show up to the crossfit games with a broad capacity of work so they had a great work capacity and the skills at the time we’re lacking. So if you guys think back to maybe with some of those workouts look like, some of the things that the athletes are capable of then versus what some of the athletes are capable of now it’s kind of mind-blowing and astonishing with how far sport has actually come in such a short period of time but one of the reasons is because the pool of athletes that are participating each and every year just continues to grow right so I mean look at how exponentially from even the time of 2012 to the time of now in 2016 approaching the 2017 season the way that the community is flourished and and brought in the pool of athletes that are participating in the initial stages of the open this kind of allows me to to fast forward to what we want to consider the role of a true specialty coach. So like I said I myself have a background in power base sports right I was a collegiate football player and I really pride myself on education. So I have a degree in exercise science from Weber State University where I immediately got to put those things into practice um so, I know a lot about human anatomy human movement even nutrition so I have a decent foundation but that also limits me and what I can offer an athlete in regards to the gymnastic side and also the endurance side of the sport. So and even in weightlifting out from my experience in the college athlete I learned how to jump heavyweight off the ground into my shoulders but learning the technicalities and truly understanding what to see and view in order to help you as an athlete. I’ve only had maybe the last five to six years of my coaching experience to gain a capacity for that so you can kind of see where my limitations would be. Now as we kind of continue this conversation one thing that you want to consider is like what should you use a specialty coach for and like why would that be important for you. For me specifically it’s one of those things that I want to always be able to fill the holes and I feel like I could even create my own athletes programming so as we take a look over here on the whiteboard i’ve kinda written up some general approaches and some things to consider. Where crossfit started again with GPP so we had general physical preparedness and me and other coaches teach crossfit. So that means I can get you really fit, I can help you establish a great power clean, I can get you a great squat clean, I can even teach you how to do a muscle up and not just one but potentially maybe even 30 in a row, right? I’ve got athlete’s that I’ve trained personally that could upwards of the high twenties in regards to achieving on unbroken ring muscle ups but that doesn’t make me a gymnastics coach and it’s the same way with with the endurance side of things, like I feel very confident that I can take someone that’s running a 12-minute mile or someone that can even run a full mile and get them with consistent training and focus recovery and and you know all lots of hard work in the gym to something that is exceedingly much better than where they started maybe an exponential right we’re taking people from a 12-minute mile down to a six-minute mile but where i’m limited is in the small minute increases of performance that now the CrossFit Games completely embody. If you guys go back and look at some of the results that have happened even through the CrossFit Games, we all know Matt Fraser crushed it this year. He literally walked away with that trophy prior to the last two events, he probably could have packed it in and not participated at all. However, if you go back and reference the marginal finishes within each victory that he won per each event or maybe even a second and third place that he had some of his consistent finishings like the margins were very tight so it wasn’t as if he just won every workout consistently but he was consistently at the top throughout each event now that is where I kind of segue into the pros of a generalist as a coach like me and some of the cons and so for me I get people really fit, I can help create a well-balanced athlete that lacks no weakness. So I can ensure that i can make sure that I target every weakness that my athletes come in and show me. If they test and they seem to have a hold their endurance I can help them build a broader base of endurance training that will help them with their metabolic conditioning and make them a better more well rounded athlete it’s the same way as if their hole is in weightlifting right. I can teach them how to efficiently move a barbell or increase their lack of overall brute strength, no pun intended. That they might lack and then we can also even talk about the the gymnastics side like I mentioned coaching someone that has no muscle ups 2 over a span of years maybe gaining the capacity to do almost 30 unbroken. So I can create a well-balanced athlete, I can create life changing results and dramatic increases. If you guys go to a great gym you’ve seen this before you have seen and experienced the way that a coach can change your life through their inspiration. Through some you know difficult conversations, whether it’s something that you clearly need to work on or maybe your effort which wasn’t good enough in each day but that coach had embodied such a mindset change in you, that is an athlete you flourish and you had some dramatic increases all those things are great and I myself can even have a specific specialty and what that means is that like I mentioned about Coach Glassman his background in gymnastics and mine being in football I feel very confident that I can train a CrossFit Games athlete and I can prepare them for a pro agility and a shuttle run to the 100th of a second to get the very most out of that, I can train them in a 40-yard dash I can train them in a broad jump in a vertical jump because those things I’ve built throughout the course of my life through experience and also education and it’s reps after reps after reps that I’ve seen reps after reps after reps that I’ve coached and also just just through exposure how to increase my own ability and those specific fields for so many years. Now some of the cons I have limited knowledge and any other specialty outside of my own so outside of a power base specific football like change of direction type atmosphere I’m very limited in what I can learn and expose my athletes to now you might say A, couldn’t you take a course? Well I’ve taken lots of courses, i’ve taken weightlifting courses, endurance courses I’ve learned from some of the best in our community each weekend that I work a level 1 seminar I’m fortunate enough to be exposed to some of the greatest minds in our community in general and in our sport However, I can only hang around these people for so long in a day or so many hours in a two-day period. So I will never be able to turn myself into Chris Hinshaw and I will never be able to turn myself into Matt Bruce or Nick Sorrel. So, them having that expertise level still always superseded what I can offer my athletes. The next thing is that I can’t coach an athlete to win the CrossFit Games alone and again you see the clear point that I just simply lack some of the ability to actually change that athletes specific ability to attain higher results at a very minute level and I kind of mentioned some of those specifically as we go on. With limited expertise I continue to make increases and athletes performance and there’s a question mark so that’s a question to you. Like with my limited expertise there’s only going to be the ceiling that I’m confident as a coach that I could take my athletes to and obviously my goal is a coach is to offer my athletes such a service and I’m gonna be able to continue to break down and bash out some of those ceilings that we’ve created. Whether it’s due to self-doubt or even if it’s just due to my limited expertise as a coach. Here we’ve got our three specific focuses in our sport right. You guys can take this however you want and you can say that CrossFit is made up of a lot more things than that if you want or whatever. We all know that there’s a high skill component we all know that you must have endurance and we know darn sure that you better be able to move a barbell efficiently and with lots of weight on it in a particular amount of time or for a long-term approach in regards to any kind of test or workout. So with that being said Chris Hinshaw, with Brute Strength Training, is our endurance coach I have had the opportunity to work with athletes and I have coach many athletes to a mile time of some PRing down into the the 5:30 minute mark right, so 5:30 and beyond i’ve coached athletes close to a five-minute mile. I myself have had the fortunate ability before the CrossFit Games in 2015 to chase a 5:15 mile. Now where I’m limited is that I have no idea how to get an athlete from a 5:05 mile to a 4:45 mile and you might say well you just keep doing what you’re doing and and for me my experience says “no, that’s not true” right. Our training and our knowledge has to continue to adapt and for me with my limited expertise as a coach and I’m not saying all of you guys have the same limitations that I do you may not but there’s gonna be a wheel or a window or ceiling where you can no longer pass through because of your lack of expertise and this is where he would come in and have the knowledge to say like “well, Adrian what does this athlete run their 400m in?” also “what is their 800m time?” and then talk about the differences between those splits and then he can go into detail on which energy system that we need to be keying in on and the distances that we should be training and how long the recovery should be in order to take that athlete from the 5:05 to the 4:45 mile. Believe it or not as scary as it sounds we’ve got athlete’s knocking on the door of that 4:45 mile now in our sport that can also back squat well over 500 pounds and it’s a scary thing right but our sport again in advancement is just going that quickly in that direction of having a much greater expectation and what we initially created even obviously what Coach Glassman and everyone else at the head of the CrossFit HQ level had envisioned back in 2007 when it was just simply throw down. So they have a greater understanding of how to train. Gymnastics wise Nick Sorrel over–oversees our gymnastics focus groups right and and implement a series of base creating workouts that are going to make things very simple now this is one of those things where it’s like you can take a look at this and say well gymnastics is pretty simple Adrian you need to be able to do some push-ups handstand push-ups and pistols some pull-ups and you can just practice those things. Well, we argue and contend that we want to create a base of fundamentals that makes the execution of crossfit movements simple right and so what that means is we’ve got to spend an exceedingly amount of time building the the base that only former gymnast understand or a successful gymnastics coach understands. For me as an athlete I came into the CrossFit community with the strength to do handstand push-ups, with the strength to do ring muscle ups, and what that afforded me was an opportunity to actually go past a large base of skills and adaptations that I didn’t need to in order to execute those movements and so fast forward to now maybe a couple shoulder injuries later which i’m not blaming on my lack of experience in regards to exposure to this but it could be and also you know there are things that still come up that I struggle with whereas if is restarted and could build a broader base of things that made minutes on my hands easy or made three minutes of an l-sit easy then obviously anything that they would throw at us in the open, at Regionals, at the CrossFit Games would seem very matter-of-fact me so these coaches have that understanding to build that base and it’s the same with weightlifting I feel like I’m a little bit limited and maybe you’re not as a crossfit coach but if someone walks into your gym and they say hey coach I snatch 305 pounds and I want to make it to the CrossFit Games, I’m very strong but I i want to get stronger and I saw that there’s a couple guys within the community snatching 315 and 320 can you get me to a 320 snatch? Are you confident in saying that you can take that guy there..? You might be able to and maybe if he’s a specific Olympic weightlifter that you have hours to coach ’em through potentially you could have that, you could do that. But if he’s allotted the time to still be focusing on each of these as a way to leverage him to the crossfit games. Do you have the skill set to be able to do that? Do you know what exercises the program? Because I don’t, Matt Bruce does because he’s in fact taken athletes well beyond these expectations, right. And it’s through years of watching movement and understanding the intricacies of every detail that he wants to see happen and when how to cue it and then also how to program enough volume and balance with recovery in order to sustain and see continual results. Now, big picture it’s easy to talk about all this stuff and say yeah like cool what so what should I do? What what does this look like? For me as a coach, it looks like this: eat your humble pie. I’m good at preparing someone for the most general task possible I can get someone really fit and I can actually like improve their quality of life there’s no question about that there’s hundreds and even thousands of CrossFit coaches out there offering that as a service. They do a great job but if you specifically have a particular weakness, I suggest that you find a coach that is going to help you build a broad base of understanding from the foundational level the very most foundational level and up to the top and make sure that it’s something that you can chase and pursue beyond even your own expectations so find someone with a wealth of knowledge that supersedes just the generalities of what most crossfit coaches offer and if your crossfit coach out there don’t be afraid to continue your education and still be trying to further yourself. I myself am still gonna try to learn as much about endurance gymnastics and weightlifting as possible. But when it comes to the crossfit games I know that those those margins of victory are so small that I need a team of coaches to help me and teamwork makes the dreamwork it’s a hashtag that I throughout all the time something that we use to explain our approach at Brute Strength Training and how we coach our athletes and there’s always a unique role for you as a generalist coach too. I don’t mean to disregard myself or disregard my value or Nick Fowler’s value in how we program and how we coach our athletes because someone has to be there to inspire, someone has to be there to understand how to balance all three of these specialties and create a program that still creates the highest level of GPP possible and how to balance those things a lot of especially coaches understand their emphasis solo and they don’t understand, as much, what it’s like to be down on that games floor on the saturday or sunday afternoon or when the lights turn on and it’s Sunday night and all the eyes on you and it’s not just about that specialty anymore but it’s about everything encompassed together. So, you still have a role in your athletes pursuit and I think that every athlete at the top level now and you guys will start to see this as the sport advances forward will have specialty coaches. Sure they’ll have a primary coach but everybody’s going to need extra help because the details matter and that’s going to separate you from average to good and from good to great. If you want to be a winner the specialty coach is something that you have to have in your training.

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