Imagine if you could only perform long division when your math teacher was present, or if you could only play the drums while your music instructor is watching. By most accounts, those educators would have failed in their primary job of educating you because their lessons didn’t stick. The role of a CrossFit coach is the same. You are not a good coach unless your athletes move well without you coaching them. And at no age is this more critical than the preteen/teen crowd.
General workout programming is a cloudy and confusing world. It’s so hard to tell what exact factors made the star pupil into what he is. Was it the specific rep scheme that brought about the improvement? Or was it the way they ate? Or maybe just a case of lucky genetics? Because of this uncertainty everybody is now a fitness expert. Your track coach did 30 400-meter repeats “back in the day.” Your football coach went through two-a-days in 110-degree heat and can now teach power cleans because of it. Your dad went on Yahoo! and saw that doing 50 jumping twisting squats and eating kale soup every day will give you a six-pack. I’m not out of the mix, either. I have a rabid group of kids that come to my gym like church, so now I feel like I have the authority to give my opinion on strength and conditioning.
The point is teenagers – especially teenagers playing sports – have so many different physical demands they have to meet from an ever-increasing group of sources. In some cases the kids have 1) a fitness class at school, 2) their sport, 3) their sport coach’s improvised conditioning program, 4) another sport and improve conditioning, and finally 5) you and your facility. In other words, you get approximately 1/5 of their attention span. So with all of these external factors pulling on our athletes, how do we really make our mark? The answer comes in backtracking and finding the common denominator. In this case, as simple as it sounds, the common denominator is movement.
Every program contains the same essentials: some pushing, some pulling, some running, some jumping, and some squatting. Nobody knows who has created the magic formula for athletic development, but the fact that they all contain the same general movement patterns cannot be overlooked. For this reason, I think it is essential for an athlete in your gym (any athlete, really, but especially younger ones) to get the fundamentals ingrained so well that they can perform them correctly no matter if they are at baseball practice, 5th hour Lifetime Fitness, working out by themselves at home, or in a class full of 10 people at your gym.
This series is going to detail some basic movement patterns that our kids have found beneficial to any athletic environment. We have also noticed that these habits have translated very well into new movements that the kids had not been previously familiar with. As Coach Glassman said, “The magic is in the movements.” So take some time to rededicate yourself and your athletes to the foundation of what you are doing and you will see everything else benefit.