Coach’s Corner: Your Box Needs a Team

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by RICK SCARPULLA

As Regionals is upon us, many of you are competing while many box owners and coaches are looking toward next year and thinking about how to get their box into a more competitive position. The need for a proper training tier is something many boxes lack.

Training with Athletes of Similar Ability

Training with Athletes of Similar Ability

In a nutshell: Elite athletes will need different training methods and training needs than non-elite athletes.
For a majority of coaches and/or box owners, one area that needs to be addressed is setting up different levels of athletes, or training groups. You must keep in mind the masses, but you must also look at your top elite athletes who —  if given the chance — just might make a pretty good team. Elite athletes will need different training methods and training needs than non-elite athletes.

For that reason, in my facility we have different levels of training. The 4 o’clock crew is the “A” group — by far the strongest crew we have. If you are not hitting big numbers, do not even think about working out with them. How big is big? A 600lb squat is not enough because we are benching that. It is high intensity and almost hostile in approach, so it is not for the timid of heart. A pure strength crew.

After that comes the 6 o’clock crew, who are also very strong, but they are training with a slightly different focus. They are far more versatile; while the 4 o’clock team is a pure strength crew, the 6 o’clock people are training CrossFit, warrior, strength and athleticism. These are young men 21-25 years old, and each one is a stud — way intense and pushing very hard. Some of them were formerly part of the 4 o’clock crew but now have work or scheduling conflicts at that time. They are probably in the best shape overall of all our guys, and this group includes our top athlete.

The elite athletes

Expectations are high on both of these crews, and excuses are not readily welcome. Our facility is shut down to athletes who are not on either of these teams during these hours. Because it is team-only, no one is put in a situation where they do not want to be. You must be asked to join to train with either of these teams; you can’t just show up.

Then we have a morning crew, which is a slightly less intense and follows a strength-based CrossFit format. We are much more welcoming to that crew, and this is where many of our many athletes start. These are currently middle-of-the-road athletes.

Sporadically throughout the day we have some individual special attention athletes — pro or top-shelf athletes who need some one-on-one sessions with me.

Mid afternoon right after school is for JV athletes. They certainly train hard, but we keep in mind that they are developing into Varsity athletes. That time is also set up for new athletes who would be in an on- ramp class. We can get them up to speed and ready to get in a group after a few sessions alone or in a small group. At 7 and 8 o’clock we are set up with the general population of our training center.

The Importance of “Team” Time

The Importance of "Team" Time

Differentiation: Having a tier system setup like this allows for everyone to develop maximally and reach their full potential….Again, not all athletes have the same goals, just as all athletes don’t have the same needs.
Why have I set up my athletes in these teams or groups? In order to develop your gym or team correctly, you need to have athletes training with other athletes of similar ability. You can’t have firebreathers training with newbies because it will not help either of them. Many boxes have an on-ramp class plus several groups at different times slots, all with a one-size-fits-all approach. Not surprisingly, they have no top level of athletes.

This situation is the purpose of tiers or levels in sports. The local housewife might not necessarily want to train at the same intensity level as a 25-year-old competitive athlete. On the other hand, the competitive athlete needs to train with other athletes who will push him/her to get better and who share similar goals.

Setting up your training groups will help this situation. It does not have to be a daily group, but a few times a week there needs to be time set aside for the top shelf team group. Setting up a premier team training time is not as hard as you may think. We are in the same situation here, since everyone has a job and life to work around, but we find a way.

Having a tier system setup like this allows for everyone to develop maximally and reach their full potential. It also does not put athletes in situations where they might not be comfortable. Again, not all athletes have the same goals, just as all athletes don’t have the same needs.

An experienced athlete will need less technique structure and more focus on other facets. Most of the boxes I have been to seem to want to have a group of competitive team of athletes; however, having everyone in a one-size-fits-all type training environment only can bring you so far toward achieving that.

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