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Entries in the amy potter effect (15)

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!

Theme Workouts from the Vault

Around this time of year, the Champions Club has traditionally done two of our school-year theme workouts: Super Bowl and Valentine's day. For the second year in a row, we did not do the Super Bowl workout, but once we get the numbers back up we will be sure to bring it back. It will be difficult, however, to top the classic 2014 Super Bowl workout during the prime years for The Freaks. We had a crazy tiebreaker, a fishing battle, a chick-fight with Amy and Bubs, and the only sin Aaron Augustyn has ever committed was caught on video.

Later that month we did Anita Partyka's Valentine's Day Heartbreaker - a workout where teams are given cards to play on their opponents. Highlights from the last round can be seen below.

This one is not out of the running yet for this year. Stay tuned..

From the Vault: Forward Roll Jump-Twist

Any time we do a holding your breath workout you can bet we are trying to modify for a swimming workout that comes up on the main site. Here's the most recent one that we used for today's team workout.

5 rounds for time of:
Swim 50 meters
25 push-ups

We made the adjustment of giving athletes two breaths instead of one. Also, we added a forward roll jump-twist every time there was a transition. Despite what you may believe, those weren't a random addition; they're a skill-transfer for something in swimming races called a flip turn.

Back when I was coaching Amy Potter's one-on-one sessions in Fall 2013, one of her major weaknesses in the pool was getting power off the flip turn. So we called up Carl Paoli and he helped us figure out how to replicate that in the gym. This came in the form of a forward roll jump twist. Here's Amy doing them between sets of a max effort.

The candlestick roll some of you did was a modification if the forward roll was not happening. Either way, you guys did well with this new movement thrown at you out of the blue.

Movement Shapes pt. 18: Squatting Local

"Amy freaking Potter is an infectious disease that can never be completely eradicated."

- Unreleased editorial The Amy Potter Effect

Earlier this year Amy Potter randomly dropped by the gym (probably summoned by Dean) and wanted to share some things she learned from her Massage school. She showed me this piece of paper that illustrated what was considered "full range of motion" in each joint. One of them was ankle dorsiflexion (bringing toes towards the shin) and said that full range of motion is 30 degrees. This is a little contradictory to what I learned from Kelly Starrett which looks more towards movement being a diagnostic for full range of motion. A pistol, in specific, requires full ankle dorsiflexion so we consider being able to sit in a pistol full ankle range of motion.

Amy's response, "When are you ever going to do a pistol in real life."

Very true Potter. A two-legged poop in the woods is much more eficient than a one-legged poop, and completely nonapplicable to girls in general because girls don't poop. That would be gross. But when we are looking at movements in the gym and how they apply to things in real life we can examine them from two lenses: Global and Local.

To examine global positions, go back and check the Skill Transfer section of the Movement Shapes/Rope Climb FYI. The overall shape of the clean's transition and rope climb's transition is the same.

 

The last Movement Shapes post looked at squatting from more of a global perspective. But in the case of the pistol and how it applies we are not going to look at the global shape of the body, but one specific local shape: the ankle.

Usually we talk about good ankle range of motion with the ability to push your knee out and keep the shin vertical. But not every movement allows for that. Sometimes we just need our knee to move straight forward (dorsiflexion) and stay that way. The pistol is one of those movements.

At first thought no movement in the gym requires as much ankle range of motion. After all if that was a normal squat we would tell her that the knees are too far forward. But if we look closer we'll notice two common instances where our ankle hits that range.

In both the touch-and-go box jump and running your knee ends up tracking way in front of your foot. If you don't have that mobility then your foot will turn out to compensate, knee will roll in, and your speed and power will be compromised. We just don't think about those movements requiring ankle range of motion because our attention is focussed elsewhere.

In real life ankle range of motion is even more important.

The first picture shows Shakes's motion during a softball pitch. The second is her transitioning from a laying position to a sprint. Both require the shin to move well past vertical. Also, how bout walking. And I have photographic evidence to suggest Amy might be missing some ankle range of motion while walking.

With more ankle range of motion her foot doesn't turnout

We can either be practicing a movement to work on a global shape/pattern or a local one. Global emphasis usually reinforces skill while local emphasis usually reinforces strength. So when pistols are prescribed in the workout or warmup keep the purpose in mind.

The Takeover FYI

Emma, Murley, Sydni Golfin, Renee freaking Shelton, and the lot were all spoiled* during high school. There is no other way to put it. They had access to an unprecidented school club that got them to fitness levels not matched by any other teenagers in the state of Michigan. They also ran track for a program that was... well, kind of crappy. Until it suddenly wasn't. They were coached to do pull-ups, 200 lb. deadlifts, and other things high school girls didn't do. At the same time they were also coached to Regional Championships, state-level times, and other things non-track athletes typically don't accomplish running track.

The reason: their track coaches and their CrossFit coaches were on the same page. And the same people.

On the outside it may not have looked that way. Whether it was Track season or Champions Club season Brian and I would habitually argue about things ranging from personal to programming to administrative stuff to equipment selection. However, it was never a bad thing because we always knew where we stood. I knew what he wanted and he knew what I wanted. When the two seasons intersected, these arguments became even more important. A majority of the track kids continued training with The Champions Club during track season. They would go out on the track and get instruction, then retreat to the weight room and hear the same things reinforced.

Even though Brian and I were unpredictable, the kids never experienced any contradiction between their sport and their strength and conditioning program. That should be the standard, not the exception.

*Brian and I were also spoiled because it turns out that none of them actually wanted to run track. Ever.

...........

For four years I took that for granted. Every time I saw Mike Rossman, Jake Corey, Katie Bromm, or Jason Withorn in the weight room, I knew exactly what they needed to accomplish on the track. And when I watched them on the track I could see where they broke down and address that in the weight room.

Then we got fired by the Track People.

Jason and Katie were the first to experience conflict. This came in the form of their coaches not only banning CrossFit, but trying to ban Pose (which is impossible in a world with gravity.) Then Shannon and Sap joined the gym - becoming the first outside track athletes I coached. It turns out their track coaches were Track People and our philosophies were starkly contrasting as well. The trend continued with various sports and led all the way through this fall with Murley (cross country) and JZ (baseball) going through the same conflicts. It reached its climax in this post on Setpember 15 and it helped me come to the realization that I was sick of it.

Because of the nature of the CrossFit community, I have been exposed to, literally, world-class coaches. You know how they are world-class? They make their knowledge accessable to anyone who wants to listen. Because of this I know the essentials of conditioning, weightlifting, running, gymnastics, nutrition, and mobility. I learned them straight from the source - often times in-person. I am spoiled. And because they shared this information with me I feel obligated to share it with the gym. As a result, we created The Champions Club.

But here's something to consider: Imagine what Shannon would have been like if I didn't have to undo her stress fracture. Imagine what Cam Jackson would've been like if Northwood's strength and conditioning coaches reinforced good landing mechanics. Imagine what Bubs's senior season would've been like if her volleyball coach understood that three hour practices are usually a waste of time for high school girls.

The Champions Club and all its resources can either be used as the magic formula for athletic development or the Ctrl+Z shortcut for all the stupid shit outside coaches make our kids do. Unfortunately the latter often takes precedence. And this needs to change.

...........

It's not the coaches' fault; they don't know any better. As I mentioned in Bad Coaching, no coach tries to make you worse. They are operating at their highest relative peak intelligence. It's just that I know of a better way and I want to share it. The good news is I've already started. And all it took was a bald sorta-deaf guy who wants nothing more than the best high school S&C program in Michigan.

Coach T needs his own special editorial and when The Takeover comes to fruition he will most likely get one. But for the time being, I was introduced to Coach T through Amy Potter in January 2014. We shared some ideas, he invited me to coach his classes, I invited him to our gym, and we kept building on that ever since. Currently he has Alyssa, Elizabeth, and Collin in his Lifetime Fitness class. He works them hard during metcons and he lifts them heavy three days per week. They also come to the gym regularly where they work hard and lift heavy. But it is also the same style of lifting. Nothing I say contradicts what Coach T says, and vis versa. Our programs are different but only because they serve different purposes.

Now here's the cool part: T keeps me updated on what his class is doing. He sends me videos of his kids benching with elbows in and jumping with feet together. And most importantly, he trains with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays; he gets to experience first-hand what exactly his three best students are doing that makes them his three best students. He follows our site and I give him updates that he may have missed. When I have tough workouts like last Friday's 30 rep max back squat death wish I will ask him permission to give my kids a break in his class so they can be fresh for mine. And if he has a testing day in his class, he will ask the same of me.

The Champions Club and Warren Mott Phys Ed./Strength and Conditioning are on the same page because their coaches are. Now don't get it twisted, our programs aren't identical; I would do things a little differently if I was running his ship and he would change things up if he was in charge of our programming. But the important thing is we both understand why we are doing the things we do and if you strip our programs down to the core essentials, we are coaching the same thing.

The "how" is different, the "why" is not.

...........

The Takeover is simply the process of getting local coaches on the same page with how we train. If the coaches fall in line, the athletes will follow. It's called a Thank You and You're Welcome situation: thank you for helping us get more people involved with our gym and you're welcome for helping you create a better team, better classroom, or better indivudual athletes.

There is one main obstacle I see in this process and I used it as a quote of the week from MGoBlog:

"When stressed, people making decisions find it very hard to move away from habit. Everyone reverts to their comfort zone unless they are making a concerted effort to get away from it."

In order for this change to gradually happen, the coaches have to get comfortable with things like midline stability and blocking movement. This will not be accomplished by a 7-hour clinic or 8 Fundamentals sessions. And it will take forever if I just go visit your team or school every other month. To have the confidence to run a class and critique movement, the coach needs to regularly work out with those standards he wishes to hold his athletes and students to. If a coach truly wants to optimize the training of their students or athletes then this step cannot be skipped. What's the most efficient way make this happen? Train at the location that best meets those standards. Unfortunately, that location is currently in Ramona, California - which is 20 miles past the middle of nothing.

Luckily for the schools and teams in the Metro Detroit area the next best option - The Champions Club - is right down the block. There is nobody in Michigan doing our thing as well as we do. Find me a Kavanaugh, a Banet, a Mrs. Carey, Ricky, or a Maria and I will concede. But until then I stand by that statement.

If you are too far on the Macomb side, Coach T runs early morning workouts in Mott's weight room. I know from personal experience that, while the teachers and coaches working out with him don't move all the way to our standards, they are pretty damn close.

What about Detroit, you say? Well that is where we meet the wolf-man in the flesh. Jarrod Bell runs a different program than both myself or Coach T and coaches different technique on most movements. But remember it's not the "how" that's important. It's the "why." Jarrod is the godfather of good form and very capable of turning a program around.

With those three options in place, the plan is to reach as many coaches as possible in the coming years, share what we know, make our facility available for them to train at, and untimately make the situation better for the young athletes.

This is the jump-start, not the end product.

...........

In summary we want the athletes and students to have the opportunity to be exposed to the best strength and conditioning practices. In order to do this I think we have to reach out to the coaches and teachers first. Otherwise it will always be us on one side with the magic formula, the coach on the other side with playing time leverage, and the kid stuck in the middle. It is going to be a long process and one that will probably not be too enjoyable at first considering it's dealing with people who generally don't want talk to us in the first place. But we think it's the best way to go.

We are off to a pretty good start. The recent fundamentals string helped with Shawn, Frank, Mr. Shiff, and Mrs. BassKatie Shakes, Kroll, and Anita are already in our ranks and coach softball and volleyball respectively. Jarrod has a hookup with Reniassance, Cass Tech, and King that he is hoping to influence - as well as a potential powerlifting club in Highland Park. I am running a clinic at our gym on Monday, December 21 with about 6 local coaches. However, part of the requirement to attend is a committment to train at either the Champions Club or CrossFit BMW in an attempt to further the education. And finally, there are also some stirrings about me returning to the track to coach, but hopefully I will be busy from the March-June and have to decline.

On to the P.E. Side of things. Murley, T, and I did a presentation in front of the entire Warren Consolidated District Phys. Ed department. As a result all five middle school teachers grouped up and asked for Murley to run a clinic in January. We are also in contact with a high school Phys. Ed teacher from Detroit who hooked up with us through the Brand X folks. Not sure if he will be grouped in with the middle school clinic, or if that is a separate project all together.

How can you help? Just be you. Be your normal self; Laugh, joke, complain, bargain, then when the timer starts move like you always do. Move with precision and purpose and be sure to welcome the new people who are just beginning the process you spoiled kids got a three year head start on.

A Reading from the Book of Dean, 1:16-27

16And then Christian said to Dean, 17Be gone! For you have haunted our heavenly abode and I humbly ask you haunt us no more. 18Dean hovered around the gym, knocking over thy frankencense and mur and graph of ability in his ghostly wake. 19Dean said nothing. 20Christian, a brave boy, stood steadfast and true in his plea and said 21Dean, I mean it's not like we don't enjoy the occasional creepy bump or random stereo shut-off, 22but I think it is time for us to part ways. 23Plus I bought a new cd player.

24The troubled ghost-child obeyed and travelled back to thy 20-disc cd player from the House of Potter, thine place of birth. 25For no further days of ouiji board magic would recall him further, he rested.

26Christian gifted Dean's cd player to ye old Salvation Army 27for a poor unsuspecting family to undertake. 27Christian bid farewell to Dean, wished him the best of luck, and prayed a rosary every day to the heavenly host 28that Dean would not return unless in good jest.

The word of the lord...

Thanks be to God

Pic of the Week: Lion's Den

Some time within the last few weeks, the Meijer on 13 Mile by the Nature Center ran a secret promotion with Pepsi and Mathew Stafford (Binno and Sabal, he's a footbawl player, quarterback to be exact). Check it out.

If you pause the video at 1:26, you might see a familiar face in the background.

Yes, Amy Potter somehow weaseled her way into the Can Cave. She was the second person to go in and she stayed there for three hours.