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Entries in coach t (49)

Pics of the Week: T and JT

Coach T sent me this picture of his lesson plan earlier this week, and it looks like he got at least one workout idea from our Summer sessions:

Next up, we have JT from the Babies session posing forhis 6th birthday in his new Summer shirt.


From the Vault: MottFit

Over 4 years ago, Coach T got me to come in and co-coach his 3rd hour lifetime fitness class. This was the beginning of our collaboration that grew to involve 3 schools, two gyms, and a B1G presentation.

Looking back on the video, I notice a few things we still coach, but most of it is kind of outdated; that is not to say it was wrong, but it has been refined time and time again. Still, it's cool to see the grassroots. Check it out.

Coach's Corner: Back Squats + GoFundMe Opportunity

Coach T has been doing a great job this Summer so far adjusting to the high intensity, all-inclusive way we approach CrossFit. But his specialty remains coaching the basic lifts; back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Last week he got a chance to coach 8th grade rookie Sam Butcher on her first ever sets of back squats. Here's how it looked.

Control of the spine is one of the most critical things to develop for anyone, let alone a teenager playing sports. Going slow and holding static positions is one of the best ways to help that. Keep that in mind moving forward for whenever we have max effort days this Summer.


On a down note, bad news came out of the Utica Ford community on Saturday. Head football coach Todd Koehn passed away this weekend unexpectedly and a GoFundMe page has been started to help cover the funeral costs. I met Coach Koehn a few times at Ford while preparing for the MSU clinic and helping out with powerlifting. In a world of football coaches throwing out terms like "get BIG" without thinking and downplaying anything related to CrossFit, Coach Koehn seemed to be nothing supportive of not only Coach T, but an oursider like myself. I always felt welcome at Ford and Coach Koehn went a long way to make that possible. He's definitely someone I would have liked to play for in high school.

Quote of the Week vol. 249

Steve Jobs: "...and why are there 4 options for the clock display?"

Avie Tevanian: "How many options do you want?"

Steve Jobs: "2. Buy it or don't."

Often times when people are presented with too many decisions, they either walk away or have second-thoughts. This usually comes from a desire to make everyone happy. You are not happy with everything (unless your name is Mrs. Pip) so how can you expect to make something that is supposed to make everyone else happy?

For example, Coach T just presented me with the idea of running a powerlifting club for the kids at the gym. We have not reached a final decision on it yet, but there's a chance it might happen in the fall. Mama V has also asked me about hosting Yoga classes. Morrow/JZ have asked me about doing Olympic lifting. Binno has asked about having a special gymnastics-focus class. Murley has asked about doing an Endurance class. Just last week a potential new kid asked me if I have a special 2-day-per-week option for the Summer. Mr. WA has asked about having a 10-session punch-card.

Now imagine if I presented all those options to Evan Pugh (New Kid who I'll be doing a post about soon) when he came in last week. Even if he still signed up, there would have been a lot of "well, I wonder if I should've picked the 2-day per week instead of the punch-card, and maybe the extra Yoga classes" going on in his head.

Limiting options usually eliminates people who want Yoga classes, or want specialty lifting, or want to change their computer clock design every day of the week. And that's okay. Keeping the options simple lets you (or me) focus on doing one or two things really well, and naturally attracts people who think the same way.

A Coach Named T

There have been so many people in this gym who give off the aura of respect, credibility, and knowledge to varying degrees. From Mr. Carey to Jacob to Shannon to Jason to Mrs. Pip to AJ to Murley to Brian the Trainer. These people often find themselves in positions of having to explain themselves and back up their performances or ideas. I have come to realize Coach T is in this category too, except on a little bit of a bigger scale. From the Michigan High School powerlifting community, to Warren Consolidated P.E., to the Michigan State football program (boo!), Coach T has built connections and gained respect in just about every relevant fitness-related community in Michigan. He even coached someone on the Biggest Loser TV show. I am lucky to be on his good side to the point where he strings me along and involves me in most of his side projects.

And the more I hang around him and realize how many top people rely on him, and how many professional-level coaches he talks to, the more I wonder how a little Champions Club weasel named Amy Potter is the one that changed his mind.

Right around the time this picture was taken - October 2013 - Amy was one of the little rascals in Coach T's Lifetime Fitness class at Warren Mott. After one of the workouts that had deadlifts in them, she went up to T after class and said in that classic direct-but-somehow-not-quite-rude-Amy-tone:

"T, you're teaching the deadlift wrong."

That is art at its finest, right there. No fluff, no filler stuff, no extra words or criticism sandwiches. Just facts. Coach T - who was just as respected then as he is now - had a very interesting reaction to this. He asked, "why?" I mean, sure, that was probably not the first thought that went through his head, but after the initial reaction of this tiny creature questioning the methods he'd been teaching forever, he put his ego aside and asked for an explanation. Fortunately, Amy is one of the best kids I've ever seen at backing up a point she wants to make. She even once convinced JZ he was wrong. And in this particular instance with T, she explained that the Big Butt Big Chest method of teaching the deadlift was actually unsafe in the long run because it puts the spine in overextension; from what I heard she used those exact words. I don't know if I had ever been so proud of one of the Champions Club kids up to that point.

I keep a coaching notebook by my bed that records my thoughts on significant days' events, business notes, and spontaneous 2 a.m. ideas, among other things. On January 11, 2014 I wrote in horrible handwriting,

Mott gym teacher texted me about doing some training there. I wonder how that will turn out... Pokemox X is pretty sweet. Hope it doesn't take up too much of my time.

As it turns out, it's 2018 I still have to use every bit of willpower to walk past the 3DS and not flip it on to see if I can finally add a shiny Rhyhorn to my collection. And as far as the Mott gym teacher part, on May 28 he became the first ever kind-of outsider brought on as an official coach at the Champions Club.

In the modern era of the Champions Club (post-Carl Paoli), Coach T has been the single biggest influence on my coaching. Going into his class to observe for the first time, I was so freaking judgemental. I was used to seeing Banets and Jasons and Mrs. Careys and packed classes of like 9 people. 3rd hour Lifetime Fitness had like 9 good people and about 50 shit kids. All crammed into a weight room expecting to do something productive in 37 minutes. Once I got the chance to actually run a class, I realized very quickly that the Champions Club standard of movement was not realistic everywhere.

An interesting thing happened as I continued to coach with T at Mott, though: I was forced to simplify. Remember when hook-grip on pull-ups was a thing? Or knee push-ups? Or straight bar path on presses? Well, they're all still things sometimes, but I cut those, and tons of other things out of the normal teaching rotation due to my time at Warren Mott P.E. I had limited time, limited experience, and 3 different languages spoken... and even without that there was still 6x more people in a session that I was used to. Adapt or die, as they say. And over time Coach T helped me simplify, and simplify, and simplify, to the point now where I literally teach three things and that's it. This came to fruition at Michigan State in 2017 when we presented at their annual Football Strength Clinic in front of 200 high school and college coaches from around the country.

Building a Champion pt. 9: Reflections of a Dropout in Sparta

Surprisingly, the preparation process for this clinic was not the thing that sold me on getting T to coach here. Instead it was the constant observation of his Mott classes. Early on in 2014, I'd be going to Mott once or twice per week. By 2016-2017, I'd make it to one or two classes every other month or so. And this distance between classes helped me get a better visual picture of not only how well his kids were improving, but the incredible acceleration of Coach T's ability to manage a big group with tough movement standards. It was really impressive to watch, and still is.

This past August was the first time I asked him to coach for me, and I was hoping to make it a two or three year project to work towards. I constantly made passive references and suggestions (Shannon knows how annoying these can get) this entire year and things were looking like it would take even longer until about 2 weeks ago, when I got a random text on the Sunday before Memorial Day from T talking about how he thinks it's time to make the jump right in time for Summer 2018.

What Coach T brings to the table is something that I'm not entirely sure yet. I don't know what his floor or ceiling look like. I just know that there are only a small handful of people in the state of Michigan who teach movement like we do, and even fewer still that do it as well as Coach T. This is a guy we need to have on our team, and by the looks of our record-number roster for Summer 2018, it could not have come at a better time.

I know you've been here before, and never really left, but welcome to the Champions Club my man!

Coach's Corner: Midline Stability at States/Kayla's Beast Mode

The coolest thing about good form is that it not only is the best way to keep you safe, but it's also the best way to express strength and power. So the conversation will never happen like, "yeah, I fixed my knees on my squat and my lift went down 20 pounds," or "I really like this new footwork adjustment on my jump shot even though I am missing everything I throw up at the rim." Obviously there can be a learning curve where a few steps back are necessary, but over the long term safe technique always equals the strongest technique. There is no exception to this. And thank God for that.

The State Championship powerlifting meet last weekend was a great illustration of this, as I noticed while watching the girls' deadlifts over and over. We always talk about not allowing change in the spine while lifting. Obviously it's not safe to practice over and over, but aside from that it's also much less powerful. Watch the video below; the first clip is a girl from some random school hitting her max on the final lift, the second clip shows Kayla Landman - who is part of Coach T's team and has been by our gym a few times, including Lifts 4 Gifts - hitting her max at 265 lbs.

The thing you should obviously notice by now is the difference in spinal position; Kayla stays very solid while the first lifter lost position right away. They both completed the rep, but notice what happens on the second half of their lifts.

This poor girl has stood up just about as high as she could with her hips - as you can see they are nearly fully extended - and yet the rep still has not technically been completed because her torso is not upright (shoulders behind the bar is the rule I believe). So what's the only way to get upright? Well, in this case, it can't be the hips because they're already extended; it's the spine that's lagging behind. The only thing she can do is the most epic back extension/superman of all time while praying the judge does not call a hitch. In short, you can always tell who loses their spinal position on deadlift by seeing who gets stuck near the top. It's weird to watch and something that can be called with almost perfect accuracy at the heavy weights.

I actually lucked into recording an even better example of this; just simply look at the girl to Kayla's left.

Both girls lifted at the same time and are on their way up. Judging by the picture, who do you think would finish first? Rewatch the video to find out.

Now imagine if this was a clean, or a shot put, or any other kind of athletic squatting motion; who would have more power on the top of the lift? The spine is the only thing that connects the hips to the shoulders. If you put a kink in the hose, so to speak, then all of the work the legs do leaks out and cannot be transferred to the arms. In the case of the deadlift (a less-athletic squat) it is still critical in completing your max lifts, as seen time and time again in Saturday's meet. Thankfully for Kayla, she had a coach like T to hold her to a tough movement standard. Great job to both!

Beast Mode: Danielle

At the Powerlifting State Finals meet yesterday, Danielle Worden overcame the disappointment of slightly missing pr's on the squat and bench press by hitting a new pr on the deadlift. She topped out with her final list at 255 lbs. Check it out!

This marks the end of the powerlifting season for everyone. Danielle definitely represented well, and it was cool to see that her technique improved from her last meet. Now it's on to track season, where she said she's just dying to run the 2 mile every practice.

Great job kiddo.