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Fast feet might be good on hot coals, but not on hard ground.


Fast feet might be good on hot coals, but not on hard ground.

When it comes to athletic performance I feel like so many of us (myself included) are looking for the next big thing to help propel our fitness to the next level. Being a coach I am constantly trying to stay up to date on the most relevant research out there, so that I can address the fitness needs of my athletes. However, there are lingering schools of thought that I have read over and over again, about people exploiting “magic drills” that only address a small fraction of over all athletic performance. Yet these “workshops” are paraded around like the “magic key” to make your kid great. While they do serve a purpose they are not going to be what keeps/gets your son/daughter in a first string position. The problem is that because they do contribute a small part to a developed or developing athlete the public has blindly accepted them as a norm in a training regime often referring to the practice as “Well that’s what I did when I grew up” or “That’s what the other kids are doing”

Sadly the ones that usually end up paying for that thought are the athletes. I am not referring to $$ but thanks mom and dad. I am referring to rate of injury. Without a proper well rounded approach to athletic training you run the risk of creating an environment where injuries can plague an athlete. As a whole incorporating a on/off season program for developing athletes needs to include resistance training not only for increasing muscular strength and power but to also aid in the prevention of injuries. Research indicates that resistance training promotes growth and/or increases in the strength of ligaments, tendons, tendon to bone and ligament to bone junction strength, joint cartilage and the connective tissue sheaths within muscle.

The myths:

Unfortunately, this mindset and myth about weight training is usually why most athletes (and parents) avoid the weight training all together. The fear is that they and/or their son or daughter will turn into meathead and worse, they fear that they will get slower and lose first-step quickness for their sport because they will be heavier. While I do come across those types of resistance mindsets the big one that I get almost every time:

Does Lifting Weights Stunt Growth?

No it will not and there is no scientific evidence that supports it. Most likely, the myth that lifting weights stunts growth came from concern over kids causing damage to their growth plates if they participate in a strength training program.

Dr. Rob Raponi, a naturopathic doctor and certified sports nutritionist, says the misconception that lifting weights stunts growth likely stems from the fact that injuries to growth plates in immature bones can stunt growth. However, he points out that this is something that can result from poor form, weights that are too heavy, and a lack of supervision. But it’s not the result of lifting weights correctly.


How to develop speed, quickness and agility:

We need to do it the old-fashioned way and why I’ve come to love CrossFit. (I’ll talk more on that in a minute). There are going to be those out there that suggest that you can do it another way with “magic drills”. I do not  believe for a minute that magic drills that only capitalize on a small fraction of what it takes will make anyone faster or more agile, will work. Like I mentioned before these drills only a small part of the bigger picture, attempting to gain speed with ladders and bungee cords is not the solution. We need to work on good ole’ fashioned strength and neurologic ability


So why CrossFit?

I can continue to bore you with science and mind numbing research so i’ll keep it short.  At its core CrossFit is nothing more than a program that was created to prepare trainees not only for the unknown but for the unknowable. In sports that is a daily task, so why not train that way?

“To be good at anything requires two aspects, physical ability (organic) and the neurologic ability. When you combine organic skills with neurologic skills, Power and Speed are a bi-product, and this creates amazing results.” – Coach Greg Glassman

CrossFit addresses those two specific needs to be good at any sport. While I understand that it is not sport specific, it is not intended to be. I respect the purpose of structured sport specific training regimes, that is not the purpose of this article. What I am putting out there is if your goal (as and athlete or a parent of an athlete) is to get better at your sport don’t look for the quick fix. Just because a particular program claims to provide you with one part of the athletic puzzle doesn’t mean it is the answer. Look for a program that fits the pieces together and focuses on the development of an athlete as a whole unit. I do feel there is still a widely held public stigma to the sport of CrossFit but in my ten plus years for coaching this sport, I’ve seen it literally transform people.

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