Coach’s Corner: Paralysis by Analysis

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Is it just me, or are some folks in CrossFit becoming obsessed with analyzing every breath, muscle twitch, and thread of any information even slightly close to the sport? Some information is good — useful, even; also, some technique work clearly is needed for proper development. Yet somehow things are getting a little over-saturated. Some things are best learned by playing the game and not by reading about it from every possible angle.

Take hitting a Major League fast ball, for example. You can read about it every which way from Sunday, yet if you want to become a good Major League hitter, sooner or later you need to get in the batter’s box and start swinging. Thousands of swings later you may be a good hitter. Great hitters don’t analyze every swing or every pitch — they evaluate every so often and make some adjustments and go back to swinging.

Just Do It

Just do it!

Most of the best athletes I work with or know spend far less time gathering information and more time with “on-the-job training.” Hands on is better in many cases than computer on.
Here’s a huge difference I find between working with younger athletes and working with grown CrossFit athletes: the kids can’t wait to try something new. They are fighting to go first, and if they screw it up they are all set to try again. No analyzing, no evaluations, no articles with lines and arrows diagramming this and that.

What a revelation that we are all built differently and will move slightly differently in any particular movement! Come on, folks, isn’t that one of the beautiful traits of being human beings? We are supposed to be different — each beautiful and gifted in our own way.

If you want to learn about your own personal bio-mechanical nuances at doing something, you need to keep grinding at it. Yes, we all will do things slightly differently, and you can bet any top athlete in any sport has figured out his or her own preferences through good ol’ trial and error, not through an article describing why if your foot is bigger than the next guy you will need to get a bigger shoe.

I am the first one to say that some information can be useful, but too much information is information overload and can get in your way. We all need to learn how to do something before we begin and many of you may not have the benefit of a support crew to do that, so you need to get it any way you can. In many cases the web is the only option. Yet you don’t need to read every single article and watch every video clip of everything under the sun on a particular subject.

When you learned to ride a bike, did you need 14 articles with multiple charts explaining that if you are taller than your little brother you will need to raise your bicycle seat up more than his? Wait — a revelation — some of us have longer femurs than others and that means our legs will be longer and we will be taller. Simply amazing.

Seems we are knee deep in the information age — I got that part, and I am right here beside you — but sometimes we need a little less. Most of the best athletes I work with or know spend far less time gathering information and more time with “on-the-job training.” Hands on is better in many cases than computer on.

Watch and Learn

Watch and Learn
You know what else younger athletes do better than most grown adults? They watch each other better. They will see another athlete do it certain ways and then try to copy them. Do adults do that? No, they are too busy telling you what you are not doing correctly. They know because they read 10 articles on it, analyzed the of lines and arrows, and can tell that you are not following them.

Instead of trying to figure out what [other athletes] are doing wrong, maybe steal what they are doing right.
The forums and sidelines are full of people who can do 200# squats or 100# presses telling other athletes who are doing twice as much that they are not doing it right. Hang on, don’t blow a gasket; I know more does not always mean better, but they probably are figuring it out as they go and after all they are lifting more than you. Instead of trying to figure out what they are doing wrong, maybe steal what they are doing right. Maybe you can use some of it for yourself. Maybe you can get stronger or faster by being observant.

Watch any successful athlete in any sport: they do things their own way in order to work around their short torsos or large hip bones or crooked ears. They learn by doing it over and over and over again and again.

Less Reading, More Doing

Here’s the take away: You started doing CrossFit because it looked like fun, and it is. Chances of you becoming Froning are not likely, so lighten up. Do your reading but don’t read too much into it. Take it for what it’s worth. Hands on is still the best teacher we have. Knowledge is power, I agree, but don’t forget time and experience yield power as well. Allow that time to bring you knowledge.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes — that’s how you learn. It takes years of hands-on experience, not years of revelational articles with lines and arrows, to become your best. Learn to enjoy the journey; making mistakes can be good and sometimes even funny. Love the day-to-day and live the highs and lows because they are all part of the ride. Want to get better? Get your nose out of the computer quicker and get your ass in the gym. That’s where I’m going right now because I’m done here. CrossFit and strength games are sports, and sports are meant to be played. It takes time and many reps to improve.

And make sure you read my next article, as I will be sure to include some lines and arrows in my explanation. LOL!

Check out the Ultimate Advantage website and find them on Facebook. Follow Coach Rick on Twitter at @RickScarpullaUA.

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