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Behind the Champion with Erica

See the interview here.


 

Entries in basketball (59)

College Athlete Admission Standards

Editor note: this was originally published on January 11 at 9 am... right around the time the comments went down. So I'm bumping this one and Binno's Eggstreme Eggstraveganze to the top for a bit because they are probably discussion worthy.

Every few years I have an eye-opening coaching experience. The first was The Meeting, the second was Carl Paoli's seminar, the third was the trip to San Francisco CrossFit, the fourth was coaching at the Day Care, the fiiiifff was the presenting with Coach T at the Michigan State Clinic, and the most recent one has come over the course of the past 6 months while doing private basketball coaching.

Since June I have been charging 60 bucks per hour to do basketball stuff with kids ranging from 7-16 years old. It is awesome; I am obsessed with game of basketball, I am obsessed with coaching, I get to recruit kids to do CrossFit here, and every cent that comes to me gets direct deposited into the Champions Club bank account. What is has also done for me is helped me realize that parents will pay SIXTY FREAKING DOLLARS FOR 50 MINUTES of sports training. And I am about to raise my prices in the spring. It is baffling. In fact, I've told more than 75% of the parents that I think they really should reconsider spending all that money on basketball training for numerous reasons, the least of which being that their son does not seem to like basketball (“but let me tell you about this thing called CrossFit” is what usually happens next). Surprisingly I get mostly positive reactions to this, and hopefully once basketball season is done I’ll be able to add a few New Kids to our regular ranks. The Babies session has already benefited from it.

What this and a few recent discussions with Champions Club parents tells me is that there is no ill-will behind anything – such as parents trying to live through their kids, or kids being arrogant. Instead, they simply don’t know what it takes to make the next level. They see their competition in the Greg Grant league or their middle school with a graduating class of 15 and they can’t help but think that private lessons are the way to a college scholarship.

Coincidentally this was a message to me as I was editing this editorial

All but 2 of the kids I have coached said they want to play at a D1 college, then play in the NBA. This is something I empathize with completely. As a 28-year old who currently has a public goal to be the best CrossFit affiliate in the world, you can probably imagine this was totally me at their age and older. I wanted to be an under-the-radar recruit who, after watching Rashad Phillips play (anyone know who he was?), chose U of D Mercy over Michigan, Purdue, and Illinois, then went on to an NBA career with 11 All-Star appearances and 7 championships. That is not a joke, and that lasted all the way until 8th grade when I saw Yancey Gates, and I found out that good 8th graders are 6’4, black, and dunking on fools. I was not any of these, so I started to work harder. Up until February 23, 2012 (The Meeting) I still had the idea that I could play professional basketball in some league, despite my college career being less than remarkable. And so when Andrew, who just got cut from a last-place 7th grade team, tells me he wants to play for OKC, I am not just being nice when I tell him that it’s possible. I’ve seen weirder things happen. I just think there needs to be some guidelines in place.

My two athletic claims to fame are: 1) being a benchwarmer on the best AAU program in Michigan, with Draymond Green as our team’s second-best player and  2) getting a preferred walk-on offer over the phone from Oakland University the summer going into my senior year. Despite the fact that I never made it to where I wanted to with basketball, I really, really think I had a mindset and work ethic that would reflect someone that played at that level, and coaches have confirmed this to me along my career. But I only refined this dedication because I was fortunate enough to be on the court with people who were already professionals or clearly future-pros. I saw where I was relative to them and I tried as hard as I could to make up the gap.

None of the kids I have coached through private basketball lessons have seen that, and their parents only see what their kids see. Most of the Champions Club athletes still in high school and middle school haven’t had that exposure either. So I figured having a formal checklist could help families see reality and decide how much they want to commit to their sport (shouts to Matt Fecht, Alyssa, and Sap for helping). The idea for this is simple: you must accumulate the allotted point requirement for your desired level (10 points for D1/D2, and 5 points for NAIA/D3). The factors are split into two categories: controlled and non-controlled. The non-controlled factors have a lot more to do with genetics and family conditions, and there is little any athlete can do to adjust those in a meaningful way. The controlled factors are the opposite; they are conscious daily, weekly, monthly, and lifetime decisions made by the athlete that slowly tip the scale in the direction they want to go. Here is the breakdown:

Division-1 College Athlete (10 total points needed)

*Give up your sport for 6 months, or keep your sport and give up everything else “fun” for 6 months?

Division-2 College Athlete (10 total points needed)

*Same as above except for 2 months

Division-3/NAIA College Athlete (5 total points needed)

*If you sat the bench for your first month of the season, would you quit or stick with it?

While the metrics in here are not exact, the overall theme is important, and pretty accurate. The way to get your point total is slightly different for D1 and D2, and radically different when looking at D3. You can read the graphs from the top-down or bottom-up, depending on where an athlete and parent want to be. But here’s a few notes:

Being a college athlete is not hard to do. There are a ton of small schools out there that will take anyone. And I mean ANYONE.  Our 2012 Marygrove roster had 3 kids that had never made a high school basketball team. And we were middle-of-the-pack record-wise and in the upper 5% talent-wise for all NAIA schools. If you want to play at a small college, first check to make sure your heart is beating and then start sending emails and highlight tapes. It doesn’t take much. And it certainly doesn’t require lots of money pumped into kids travel teams. Save that for Albion, Hope, and Olivet’s tuition. It’s gonna be around 40 grand!

Recruit yourself. Alyssa Jabara is the best example I have heard of this. She played for a good travel softball team in high school but was not getting the college attention she wanted. So she took it upon herself and emailed coaches every weekend starting her junior year. She is at Concordia now (in the NAIA league with Marygrove, Madonna, Aquinas, etc.) and a lot of that has to do with the initiative she took. The extra controlled factors she put in that more closely resembled D2 is the difference between her just being on the team and her beating out 2 upper-class catchers as a freshman last year.

1-month quit test. Small school sports suck. There were bigger crowds at high school games. You get crammed van rides for hours and hours. Practices are at 6 am. In other words, you put in a ton of work and get very little publicity – especially if you are 1) a girl or 2) playing anything besides football and basketball. And on top of that, scholarships are treated differently at this level, so don’t be surprised if you came in with a handful of other freshman at the same position. There were 7 freshman quarterbacks on the football roster during my only semester at Albion. And the coach still asked me to try out. The more kids they bring in, the more enrollment goes up. Bottom line is, you have to love the game unconditionally.

Well maybe I’ll just go D2 instead. The Division-2 level is the most misunderstood tier of college sports in my opinion. These dudes (or girls) can play, man. Everyone thinks they are pros here, and to their credit, some of them are right. You’ll notice that there is a big jump from NAIA/DIII to the D2 level, and D2 is not that much different than the D1 requirements. The areas I have noticed the biggest difference in the D1 and D2 athletes are the non-controlled areas, which are just a tad lower than the D1 group. But where this can get tricky is with transferring. Take Glenn Winston, who had the makeup for D1 but didn’t get the playing time he wanted at MSU, so he transferred to Northwood and immediately played in front of Cam – who, by the way, had all the measurables and connections to make a really good D2 running back. Division-2 is loaded with talent, and it’s often people who shoot for D1 and miss that are standouts, not D3 kids looking to move up.

Non-controlled factors. Now we get into the Division-1 category, and this is where there are pretty solid factors that are not completely mandatory, but very hard to bypass. Measurables are simply the raw mass of your body. For instance, if you are 7’0, or over 6’6 with arms longer than your height, you have the right measurables for a D1 basketball player. If you are over 300 lbs., you can be a D1 offensive lineman. The specifics are different with every sport, the idea is the same. “Elite” skill means that your skill in that area is at a professional level. I knew Alex Marcotullio growing up at St. Dennis (he is good friends with my cousin Josh) and he played for The Family the year after I got there. By everyone’s account I was better at dribbling, driving, mid-range shooting, passing, defense, rebounding, and I was stronger and better conditioning than he was. But his 3-point shooting was – no joke – NBA worthy. Combine that with the measurables for his position (Jay Junkin’s height) and he played 4 years at Northwestern. Connections are the next thing, because with all that skill and genetics, a lot of it depends on who you know. All it takes is for one coach to like you.

Social Norms. Now we are into controlled factors, and this one comes directly from Matt Fecht. This means when the normal thing to do is party after you won a game, you skip it and sneak back into the gym to practice more. Or when it is snowing outside, you still get your training run in, regardless of the awkward looks you get. Your “process” takes precedence over what is considered normal by peers.

Scheduled down-time. For most elites in their field, down-time does not happen when they feel like it. It is built into their schedule. This includes family events, television, video games, cheat meals, and parties. Time away is a very important part of staying healthy. As Kobe Bryant said, “If the sun never went down, everyone would get sun-burned.” But even the sun does it on a schedule. So set a cheat meal to coincide with your grandma’s 90th birthday party, or plan on some father-son bonding whenever Michigan is playing on Saturday, and use that as an incentive/reward for staying on track during the time leading up. My personal productivity, both as an athlete and gym owner, really coincides with this.

No job. Your sport is your job. End of discussion.

S&C + Individual practice. One of the things I tell families is that if their son wants to play Division 1 basketball, they should not be relying on paying a trainer to improve their game. If the kid doesn’t have the passion to spend 2 hours per day practicing by himself, then no trainer is going to fill that void. On the other hand, having some kind of direction is good, but only to guide your individual efforts. Strength and conditioning is a different area of expertise, so having a coach is a little more beneficial, but a determined athlete can definitely get away with working out alone. Still, this is mandatory.

AAU. Okay here’s the deal: If your travel team is legit, they are sponsored by an apparel company. If you are not paying team dues, or travel expenses, or equipment fees, then you are probably sponsored (unless there’s a very rich parent). Also, apparel companies don’t sponsor youth programs, only high school. So just know that having Nike gear and having a Nike contract are two separate things. If you are not part of a sponsored team and you are a legit prospect, then you are either not paying the full amount, or not paying anything at all. Your payment is your coach getting to say he “coached” you. If you think you are a legit prospect and you can’t pull the juice card, then you are not a legit prospect.

School. You can go to school at any point in your life. On the other hand, you have about an 8-year window where you can make money on your athletic abilities. If 8 hours of homework per week is eating into sports training, then cut out some homework. You don’t need a 4.54 GPA, a 3.0 will work just fine. If you can’t get a 3.0, then just start turning in your freaking homework. That’s like a 2.8 right there! Then be nice to that smart kid who idolizes to you and it’s all set.

Food and bed. Nutrition is like religion, and sleeping remains to be one of the most unfigured-out things in the world of health and fitness. I have opinions about what are best practices. Your coach has opinions. Your grandpa has opinions. As long as you are making conscious daily decisions for both, then you get two checks.

November 2014 - right around the time Alyssa started recruiting herself and Matt was... well... still being Matt.

Now, the important thing to understand is that the more stock you have in one column, the less you need in the other. For instance, if you are 7’0 with an 90-inch wing span, then you can spend all the time immersed in your homework as you want; somebody is going to give you a free tuition to win points in the lay-up line. On the other hand, if you have every single category covered in the Controlled column, you might be able to get away with not being tall, fast, or big.

The idea is to have this reality check when setting goals. So if Andrew-who-got-cut-from-his-7th-grade-team still has dreams to play for John Beilein, he can look at the list and be like, “yep, I can see myself putting in that kind of commitment,” or “ooh… yeah that doesn’t look like something I’d be willing to do.” Either way, the information is right there and the decision to start pumping money and time and energy into that sport becomes clear. Or, at least a more educated guess. It’s the difference between asking someone what they want for Christmas and hoping they will use a $50 Whole Foods gift card.

...........

For this 2017-2018 season there are 7 D1 basketball schools in Michigan, which have a total of 114 roster spots:

  • Central Michigan: 18
  • Eastern Michigan: 16
  • Western Michigan: 14
  • Oakland: 16
  • Detroit Mercy: 17
  • Michigan: 17
  • Michigan State: 16

There are 9 D2 basketball schools in Michigan, which have a total of 138 roster spots:

  • Lake Superior State: 14
  • Northern Michigan: 17
  • Ferris State: 17
  • Wayne State: 13
  • Michigan Tech.: 15
  • Davenport: 17
  • Grand Valley: 18
  • Saginaw Valley: 13
  • Northwood: 14

This is a total of 252 roster spots for Division 1 (114) and Division 2 (138) combined.

When you go two levels lower to the NAIA (132) and DIII (114), you have 246 total roster spots:

NAIA*

  • Cornerstone: 16
  • U of M Dearborn: 18
  • Rochester: 17
  • Madonna: 17
  • Aquinas: 22
  • Sienna Heights: 15
  • Concordia: 17
  • Lawrence Tech: 10 (first-year program)

DIII*

  • Adrian: 12
  • Albion: 17
  • Alma: 24
  • Calvin: 16
  • Hope: 15
  • Kalamazoo: 17
  • Olivet: 13

*does not include roster numbers for JV teams, which usually carry at least 10 and fluctuate

Now when you take this down to the high school level, there are 710 school varsity basketball teams in the state of Michigan:

  • Class A = 188 teams
  • Class B = 180 teams
  • Class C = 170 teams
  • Class D = 172 teams

Assuming 13 kids per roster, there are 9,230 varsity basketball players in the 2017-2018 season.

That means that approx. 4% of all high school players will play college. Obviously there is a degree of variety to that, seeing as kids can go to college out of state, and Michigan schools recruit all over the Midwest (and world, see Mo Wagner, Stauskas). Also, basketball has the fewest roster spots of any sport, but it’s probably all relative with baseball, football, and track, which routinely carry rosters of 20, 60, and 100 kids respectively.

The specific numbers don’t matter as much as the overall message: a very small percentage of kids get to play a college sport. I, personally, think that is awesome. It’s something to be proud of whether it’s Alyssa Jabara playing at Concordia or Alan Wisniewski at Penn State. They are part of a select group of people who had a combination of controlled and non-controlled factors that gave them the opportunity to compete at a very high level.  If a formalized list is available to show the demands at each level, families will realize that playing college sports is not for everyone, but it is for anyone.

Do First, Ask Questions Later

My sister, Sarah, is absolutely ridiculous on the piano. As I was helping clean up around the house yesterday, I saw a stapled pile of papers filled with song titles written in Sarah's handwriting; I recognized a few (Changes by Tupac, Be by Common, Everything I Am by Kanye West), and the others were in some language that Senora Peterson did not cover in Spanish class. They were all songs Sarah could play on piano, and over the years she would entertain family and friends sitting on that little bench, hitting the perfect notes on the electric keyboard. There was one part none of us could wrap our heads around, though:

She never took a lesson. Not a single one.

Now, you have seen me bobbing my head off-rhythm here in the gym or trying to sing along so a song, and you'll know I have zero musical talent. My dad has less than I do. My mom can sing in church, but that's about it. So we can assume Sarah doesn't get her music ability from the genetic lottery. But when we were young my mom get her that electric keyboard for Christmas. And Sarah just played, and played, and played, until she just figured out how to make it sound good.

...........

I am a professional coach; I make my living coaching. If people didn't want/need me to show them how to do something, I would probably be living in a van down by the river. So my ability to make money entirely depends on people not being Sarah and figuring out how to do something on their own. Still, I think there needs to be more of that.

I try to build it into the Champions Club. In 2014, I kind of changed my coaching philosophy while I was doing the Day Care CrossFit thing. My goal became to help you guys to the point where you move really, really well without anyone coaching you; the main reason you come back to the gym over and over being for the community. It's really a never-ending process, but the shift away from being dependant on someone telling you what to do was a major change for me. It required me to be more hands-off and not fix things right away, but let you see if you can fix them yourself (assuming it's not an immediate safety issue). So far I like what I see, and I notice this most in the relaxed warmups when you are talking and moving at the same time.

I have also been doing a lot of private basketball coaching on the side, and this is where Sarah playing the piano really came into mind. I've had 34 people message me since the end of June, 14 of them have come in to do sessions with me, and I would consider ongoing private basketball sessions not being a waste of money for like 4 of the 14 kids. The other 10 just need to play, man. Buy a basketball, find a hoop, and just figure it out - especially if you are just competing at the rec level. But in talking to them, I also find that not only are they doing private lessons for basketball, but other things as well. In fact, one kid I coach does private lessons for basketball (with me), hockey, violin, and math. I don't want to judge the parents without understanding the motives, but when I get messages like this...

...I just wonder if any of them remember what it was like to be a young kid learning a new skill. I do, and it generally did not come from ongoing private lessons. It came from watching someone do something, then spending hours trying to emulate it. Then when I got to a sticking point, I would go to the private lesson route (in this case, it was my dad). This would go for basketball, football, or anything else.

...........

Whille the weather is still nice, make an effort to learn a new skill. It can be something as simple as taking a normal habit and doing it a different way, like throwing a football with your left hand or going for a run on a trail instead of your normal sidewalk route. And most of all, enjoy the learning process. Once we finish school, we often forget how to be students. It doesn't come from someone telling you what to do, but it comes from actually doing; feedback based on feel is always more permanent than feedback that is told to you. So just play and figure it out as you go!

Time Priority

Over the course of the past year, my off-session efforts have been focused about 70/30 in favor of "business" things compared to "coaching" things. Business things meaning how to organize payments, managerial theory, hiring coaches, etc., and coaching things being Pose concepts, anatomy/physiology stuff, and basically teaching myself how to teach you all to move better. The latter I enjoy more by a longshot, but I needed to get my crap together on the business side, and although it's still a work in progress, it's been paying off so far.

I realized that one of the things I was really, really bad at was valuing my time. In my defense (which, I know, I just wrote about not doing), I had a big transition when my basketball career was over; I was no longer coaching the Champions Club as a side-project, I dove in head-first with nothing else to distract me.

Seven(!) years ago

Anyway, I realized very early on that there was a lot of... not "down-time" necessarily, but time where I wasn't coaching on the floor. With no school or basketball to take up that time, this was quickly filled with studying up on MobilityWOD, Free+style, Pose, and other things that made my coaching better. So naturally, I was pretty forgiving in regards to my on-floor coaching time. I'm up here anyway, I usually thought to myself. Plus we kinda need this person, so I don't want to lose them.

An example of this would be someone cancelling a Fundamentals session on me ten minutes before it started. I would be at the gym already, receive the text, let out a loud f-bomb, then go about cleaning or studying. Another example would be the usual, "Chris, money is kind of tight this month, can I get a break?" Examples like this are a little more complex and are best for another discussion, but the idea is the same: I'm here anyway, the session is usually not overflowing, what's one more person? This became a problem for me, not because of the individual instances, but because of the habit it build. I would end up having to block out 3 hours of time "just in case" someone would be able to schedule a session with me. In short, it was limiting my ability to coach.

Earlier today I did something for the first time I can recall: I charged someone for a no-show. It felt horrible at first, then kinda justified about a half-hour in. Last night I confirmed a private basketball session for 11 am this morning with a guy who's been coming in for a few weeks. I have about 7 of these basketball clients and my hours are decently limited, especially considering I don't schedule stuff on Saturdays in the fall. This guy wants to lock in that Sunday morning time, so we did and I charge $60 for a 50-min session. I got a text at 10:15 this morning saying,

"Change of plans. OK if we skip today?"

Like I said, it felt like a jerk move to tell him I was still charging, but then I started cleaning up more of the leak, planning for the team workout, and planning for the babies. When Mrs. Fitz came in complementing how clean it looked, the team workout went well, and the babies session did great, I felt a lot better about it. It showed me how much I can accomplish in an hour from both a money and non-money perspective: 3 of the other 7 kids could have gone at that time, and both Sunday sessions might not have run as smoothly otherwise.

The thing I always try to do is have some kind of balance between being a business and being a human being. There's always exceptions and double standards (if I kicked people out for bailing on Fundamentals sessions none of you would know Shannon). It's going to be a never-ending process, I'm sure, but learning how to put some kind of value on my time has been very helpful, and it's something I wanted to put on here both to share with you guys and to compare with myself a year or so from now.

New Kid on the Block: Blake

Going into my 4th year coaching basketball at Groves, we finally got our first kid from that side of town. Blake Zalmer, a sophomore, just signed up for Fundamentals and finished his first session yesterday.

Technically, this could be counted as Blake's second session because he did a one-on-one with me in May some time if I recall correctly. I was hoping to get him on board for the Summer but a camp and other obligations kept him out. Now he's back in the swing of things with school and he's decided to jump on board with the Champions Club.

Blake played on the freshman team last year. This Summer he was playing with varsity and was one of the few non-returning players to really grasp our defensive concepts. Actually, let's face it, most of the returning players still don't understand what it means to cut off middle yet. Ugh! Anyway, Blake is one of the hardest workers we have in the entire program and so far it's been really fun to have the opportunity to coach him here at the gym. He's coordinated enough to pick up the technique, strong enough to not be too limited, and conditioned enough where we won't need to stop tha often. This could be a good one, folks. Stay tuned. I'll check back in after the last Fundamentals session.

Quote of the Week vol. 191

I'm excited to announce my former teammate/high school classmate VJ Tocco's first installment of an ongoing Guest Post series called Thinking Out Loud will be published tonight at 5 pm. It should be a good one and definitely worthy of some discussion.


 

"Imagine if every time you walked in the gym you had to play for your spot on the team."

- Coach Speedy at our 15U practice last night

When you do something on a daily basis, it is easy to get complacent from time to time - especially if you are already decently accomplished at what you are doing. I know I am guilty of it every now and then. I have coached literally every single day for the past 5 years without a break. I love it and I choose my schedule, but I know there have been times where I have not given the effort that I needed.

I'm also sure a lot of you reading this have been in the same boat for your work or school. You're there every day, your spot is secure, and you kinda just float by. While this is almost unavoidable, it is a bad habit to get into. So I'm going to try to remind myself about what coach said above. What if your productivity today at work determined whether or not you're going to be there tomorrow? What if your scholarship fell on your performance in class today (not the semester as a whole)? Keeping that mindset will ensure we never get satisfied where we are.

The Real Matt Fecht

"These ideas are nightmares for white parents whose worst fear is a child with dyed hair and who likes earrings"

So I'm not sure whether to make this a Beast Mode post, or Accomplishments, or 'For the Sake of Being Awkward', so I'm putting it in all of them.

For those who didn't know, Matt Fecht Marathon Goblin is also a teacher at an alternative high school in the Chippewa Valley district where they send kids who have either been introuble with the law or had problems with grades (basically Michigan State at the high school level). This year, they introduced basketball as an official school sport as an incentive for the kids to do better in their classes and Matt was named the coach.

Early in the season, he told the kids he would dye his hair if they made it to the state final four - which they did this weekend, losing by 2 in OT to the eventual state champion. Nevertheless, a bet is a bet, and this is what we have now.

So now that Slim Shady is training at the gym, we might be able to afford a roof that keeps the water out.

Case Study: We're Doing More Squats!

Disclaimer to Jacob, Cap'n Jack, Faust, and Brian - don't get your hopes up. This probably isn't what you're thinking, sorry for the misleading title.

...........

It is not very often I mess with programming. CrossFit.com does what I want it to do. The only exceptions are birthday workouts, themes, and modifying some things based on equipment/coaches available. I try my best not to think for myself with regards to programming and I'm sure that will stay the case for the most part going forward. But there has been something bugging me lately; it started with a personal/anecdotal case, then increased to a passing observation, then elevated to cursing under my breath/facepalming unyielding gut feeling over the course of this basketball season.

I think CrossFit needs either 1) more high-rep air squats or 2) longer time spent in the squat position. So we are going to add them in. (Just for reference, when I refer to high-rep, I'm talking increments of 50 and 100+). Here's why: the more I think about it, the more I believe having the endurance to hang out in a squat for long periods of time prevents bad things from happening in sports. Let me introduce you to our Groves basketball team. This is the opening possession of us getting our ass whooped by Avondale 2 weeks ago (the team we open with in Districts tonight, actually).

The athlete circled is Drew, and he's actually a really good kid to coach. Tough, smart, and likes to make fun of my socks (or lack thereof). One of the things we've been pointing out to him lately is his tendency to stand up on defense. He pretty slow as it is, so he needs to keep his hips low in order to move around efficiently. In other words, he needs to squat. In the clip above, you'll notice that him standing up the first two times didn't draw any consequence, but the third time he was out of position when his guy made the cut and didn't have any leverage to fight through the screens. And now we're down 3-0 after the first possession and Avondale is fired up.

We were playing defense for about 40 seconds in this clip - meaning Drew (and everyone else) needs to be continuously squatting for 40 seconds, and never once coming out of that squat. Period.

Here's a different way not squatting can mess things up in basketball. This clip is from the same game, just a few possessions later.

Again, we catch Drew standing when the ball is away from him. But instead of giving up a three, Drew's man gets inside leverage on the rebound, knocking Drew out of position, and leaving an opportunity for an offensive rebound. Naturally, they capitalized on it and building on the momentum they gained from the first possession, they drilled another 3-ball in our face.

So the two main problems we come across are 1) not moving fast enough and 2) not boxing out. Both of those can be fixed if an athlete is simply in a squat. I think when talking about fixing this problem the responsibility comes on both ends. Obviously staying low on defense and boxing out is something myself and the other coaches have been putting extra emphasis on in practice lately. And I think the other part comes from the athlete getting better endurance in the legs. In fact, Jennifer mentioned this to me a little over a year ago and I didn't really think about it as much as I should have. I asked her if she thought her recent string of CrossFit training has helped her in basketball and she said, "Yeah (hur, hur), I feel like I can stay in a defensive stance for a longer time."

Drew might be our best player on Groves, and we need him on the court a lot. Let's say we coach him up, and the rest of the team, and break the habit by tonight at 5 pm. Great! The first few possessions are shut down! The thing is, we are on defense anywhere from 40-50 times per game. If Marygrove math serves me right, that's around 16-20 minutes(!) Drew needs to be spending in a squat - or else he is a liability. Add that to whatever else on offense that requires a squat (dribbling, shooting, posting up, aka everything) and no wonder we are so tired after a hard-faught basketball game! 

Think about the other sports you play: football, baseball, track, volleyball, wraastling... can you find the same demand for long-duration squatting? Poor Matt Fecht has to spend over 2 hours in a constant squat for his marathon! I touched on it in Movement Shapes pt. 17, but I think it might be a good time to refresh.

How bout Matt Hickey for the pin!

The ability to squat our hips down in an efficient manner takes energy. More energy than simply standing tall. And I think the more we condition ourselves to this in our training, the easier it will feel during a game - which makes literally everything better. The cool thing is, this doesn't just apply to sports. How bout that recent 17.1 Open workout with dumbbell snatches and burpee box jumps? Rachael Kroll makes sure she squats down every time she lifts the dumbbell from the ground, her back doesn't fry out, and she is able to complete the workout with a personal record. Same can be said for anything else involving a deadlift; the more conditioned we are to squat, the less we are going to burn out our back.

What about a real-lift scenario like pushing a lawn mower or lifting something heavy?

Our friend above in the picture above (who Google says is named Sam) is probably very tired from a long day of hauling whatever is in those bags, and notice how his position is suffering. I think with more high rep/long duration tempo squats, our endurance in this shape will be better and it will have a very noticable effect on just about everything we do outside of the Champions Club.

CrossFit has shown us that fatigue is the best factor to bring out all of the movement dysfunction we have in us. This is a big one and something we are going to spend some time trying to correct. We'll probably add in some stuff at the end of a session here and there during the spring as a test run, but be on the lookout for some kind of a formal gameplan coming during the Summer.