Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Virtuosity and the Traveling CrossFitter

Do you travel at all? Maybe you go to local and regional CrossFit gatherings where CrossFitters compete. What do you see in Affiliate gyms not your own, or on the competitive pitch when you watch athletes who are not from your gym? What do you hear about your own technique from your hosts when you travel, or from the spectators about the competitors from your gym when you are there to cheer them on? If you are a coach do you use the comparison between your athletes and those from other gyms as a little report card on your coaching?

It can be pretty hard to watch “amateur” CrossFit competitions where everyone is going for maxes, redlining every single WOD. But that’s competition, and it may be a little unfair (although maybe only a little) to use these competitive festivals as a coaching report card. Where do you draw the line between acceptable breakdowns (recall Coach Glassman’s famous firing range example) with technique breakdowns that are just plain dangerous? This is a hard question, and reasonable people have trouble reaching agreement. I’ll just toss out that for me these “non-sanctioned” local competitions are a slightly higher intensity version of my ‘you vs. you’ mantra, and that coaches have a responsibility to their athletes to keep them safe. YMMV.

In the gym, though, it’s a different matter altogether. When a visitor to your gym tells you that they’ve been going to a Box for 6 months and they can’t do a proper air squat, well, something’s wrong there. If their deadlift technique is unsafe during warm-ups and they are fully planning on Rx’ing your WOD because that’s what they do at home, something’s just not right. Technique comes before consistency, and both prior to intensity. You go to a CrossFit gym rather than doing CrossFit at the local Y because there are CrossFit coaches at a CrossFit Affiliate.

When people visit my sons’ Box they get coached. Technique, strategy, something. Out of town visitors are not charged a fee at Comet, but they are most certainly coached, just like all of the members. When I travel I expect to be coached before, during, and after a WOD, whether or not I’ve paid a drop-in fee. That’s why I go to a Box rather than just the hotel “gym”. I can’t help but compare how the host athletes move with the athletes at my home gym, and frankly I try to have my very best technique because I know that I am a reflection of my coaches, or should be, in the eyes of my host.

The Games athletes are different from us in many ways, but we can control one of those differences: we can try to be as technically sound as they are. I watched last year’s Finals on The Deuce yesterday. Rich Froning’s technique on “Isabel” was simply lovely. Same thing with Julie Foucher at Regionals in Columbus. Ohio on the Snatch ladder. I’ll never move that much weight that quickly, and sadly neither will you. There is no reason why we can’t move a bit less weight just a little less quickly with nearly the same form, however. As coaches it should be our jobs to get that to happen for our athletes. Should we do it fast, or should we do it with “better than good” technique? Coach Glassman always answers “yes”.

Let’s “go home” to the concept of “virtuosity”. Let’s seek it for ourselves, and let’s coach it for others. Let’s praise it when we see it, to both athlete and coach. Choose heavy if you can; go as fast as you can. Do both with technique you’d be proud to take on the road or show off to visitors. Virtuosity is the forgotten universal CrossFit element.

Virtuosity travels well.


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