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Behind the Champion with Erica

See the interview here.


Entries in football (56)

Pics of the Week

We have a few candidates for Pics of the Week this time around.

Last Sunday, I went to the Berkley Steelers last football game of the season, where the 7th and 8th graders beat the Troy Colts, keeping them out of the playoffs. After the game, I caught up with Summer rookie Isaac, who played a good game at center. His sister/fellow 10amer, Sophia, jumped in as well.

The next one I was going to include was Mr. Auggie and his dog, shown in the previous post. It's actually Master P's dog, but the father of the Augustine household brought him in while I was holding a Fundamentals session with Alyssa. Again, see the post below for the feels.

This next one came in while I was taking a picture of Conor and Cory on the bike. I accidentally zoomed out and it showed up like so...

From the Vault: Parents Partner Carry and Pigskin

Two years ago we had Sundays split; one kids session and one parents session. The latter proved to be one of the most enjoyable coaching experiences I've ever had, and once we get the numbers consistent again, we'll bring it back (more from the kids side than the parents).

Here are two of my favorite highlights from that group:

October 11, 2015

Mr. Carey: "I'm so scared right now!"


September 13, 2015

R.I.P. Ryan Anderson's free safety career and Mr. Z's hamstrings.

Be on the lookout for some fun team workouts this fall.

Sunday Highlights From the Vault: Football at the Park

One of the most enjoyable times I've ever had at the Champions Club was on September 13, 2015 when the parents crew went up to the park to play a competitive game of touch football at the park.

We're due for some play time with the team workout crew. When's it gonna happen?

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. 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.

Goon and Goblin Resurgence Super Bowl Edition

This week's poll comes from Marathon Matt

What is your favorite Super Bowl memory (player, game, or commercial)?

Quote of the Week vol. 171: An Insightful Groves Conversation

Me: "The other guard I was talking about, CJ, and I got along fine on the football field; it was just I throw him the ball and he catches it. But on the basketball court we clashed for about 3/4 of the season until we got it right."

Drew: "That's because in football everyone has a specific job; block this guy, run the route, fill this gap. In basketball it's more general. Just get the ball in the hoop."

Me to CJ. Tug the FacemaskThe conversation above took place on Sunday while I was working with Drew and another Groves player after basketball practice. What he said really got the wheels spinning in my head about all of the conflicts that I've had with coaches or athletes, or I've seen other coaches and athletes have with each other. To me, it seems like it always comes down to someone not understanding their job.

In football plays are broken down and detailed more than any other sport I have experienced. In the picture above, Every single individual on the offensive line has a specific job to do that is different from the teammate next to them. On the other side of the ball, same goes for the defense. My job here was to take exactly one step and throw the ball to the back corner of the endzone. Clifton's job was to run there and catch the ball. It could not be any more concrete than that.

Now think about baseball, basketball, track, volleyball. They all have specific jobs like this too, but because there is more flow between plays instead of one-play-at-a-time, it seems coaches don't emphasize specific jobs as much as the overall outcome. At least, that has been my experience.

One thing I am going to try to do better is make this clear for you guys. When you are working out, you should know what your job for each movement is. And for the coaches, they need to know what their job for that specific session, day, or season entails.

Thanks Drew!

Air Force Bound

I ran into Kris Campbell last night at Erika's basketball game and he informed me that he gave a verbal commitment to play football at the Air Force Academy for the next four years.

He said now the high school season was done, the pressure to make a college choice was increasing. But he talked it over with his family and coaches and I think made a very good decision - especially considering Air Force pays for any medical school he would attend after his 4 years (can you imagine Kris as a doctor performing surgery on you!?)

Big ups to Kris and we'll see you back at the gym soon!