Before You Say Anything, Prepare To STFU

A few workouts ago I programmed this neat little ditty. It involved a few unusual moves, at least to some of my athletes, one of whom, Young Hector, called me out on. Yes, Young Hector can be a pain in the rear end but I love the guy. And his questions are appreciated because it gives me the opportunity to nerd out in explaining the finer points of competitive CrossFit programming as I see them.

I decided to answer Young Hector’s questions in a slightly snarky post a few days later. Young Hector was amused by it so that’s good. In the answer I allude to why we, as CrossFit athletes, might want to drill the skills of the sports that show up in some shape or form in CrossFit events. Although I didn’t delve too deeply into this in the previous post but since CrossFit athletes are trying to be good at so many sports and not necessarily masters at any of them, we need to drill the skills to a greater degree than the specialist athlete.

Now let me say this. You either get that concept or you don’t – the pursuit of being good at everything at the sacrifice of being great at any one thing. And if you don’t get it, that’s fine. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means this doesn’t click with you. For me however, as it has with so many other competitive CrossFit athletes, it did. Somewhere in my mind, I thought it so much harder and more challenging to take on so many aspects of sport and fitness and try to be good at them all. In my mind, it’s easy (relatively) to be great at one thing. Try being good at ten.

Having adopted CrossFit as my sport of choice I have also accepted criticism of the sport will come with it. As with anything “new”, it will attract its fair share of naysayers. Now I have no quarrel with those critics who present a decent argument. One that provokes debate and is based in some form of reasoned formulation. That being said, these mu’hs on the infamous Couch Thread are a two nuts short of having a set balls.

It’s one thing to be critical. It’s another thing to be anonymous, critical, WRONG as hell and outright racist. Yes, the N-word is dropped with some regularity there along with the requisite douchebaggery of anti-gay, anti-semitic and anti-intelligence comments. If you are not familiar with Couch Thread, I guess to sum up it is a place where mental impotents go and voluntarily engage in an internet-style elephant walk and talk ying-yang about CrossFit and those who engage in it and mainly about Coach Greg Glassman (“Couch” is apparently a play on “coach” when referring to Glassman).

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When I published the post to Young Hector, this happened on the Couch Thread

“I’d Hit It” posted:

Poor Young Hector, you’re paying this dumb bastard. Because the skill in rowing form is totally about learning to flap your arms and not about optimizing your coordination between the upper and lower body movements, necessitating the use of them together. And “constantly varied” continues to be a good reason for a couch to stick random shit into the workout, rather than the bullshit hand-waving used by incompetents to divert attention away from their confusion of “come up with random shit” for “come up with well-thought-out, efficacious programming where movements are carefully tailored toward and individual’s weaknesses and needs”… I am pretty fucking sure Derek Jeter does not break his swing down into completely arbitrary movements that in no way mimic the way the total movement is executed.

There were others that chimed in…

“Jay” posted:

No MLB player breaks down their swing in parts and practices each part… that is fucking stupid… What an idiot of a coach.

But the criticism wasn’t confined to the Couch Thread. Joel Snape, who is from his blog’s bio a contributor to Men’s Fitness or something and an MMA guy, also commented. I didn’t actually read any of Joel’s blog but I assume he is confident in his “knowledge” of all things sport. One thing I’ll give Joel credit for is at least he put his name to his comment, which is eerily close to “I’d Hit It’s” comments on the thread. But I digress…

joelsnape says:
December 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm
This sounds good, but I’m basically certain Derek Jeter doesn’t break his wing down into parts. I’ve certainly never heard of rowers breaking down their stroke into two parts, and I’ve interviewed a couple of former Olympic rowers about their training, as well as reading everything that Brad Alan Lewis has published. So, you know, there’s that.

I honestly was not going to address these statements here or anywhere but I just thought it funny in an annoying way. If you’re going to say anything, know WTF you’re talking about. Let’s take the reference to Derek Jeter. In the original post, I used him arbitrarily to present a point of the importance of practicing skills. I had and have no direct knowledge of Jeter’s routine. I simply used him as a metaphor, guessing, in order to be so good he must actually practice. (Allen Iverson maybe would be the lone exception.)

Perhaps I’d Hit It and Mr. Snape should have STFU before they got started ’cause low and behold, Jeter does break down his swing into drills. In fact, the Yankees hitting coach goes into great detail about restructuring Jeter’s swing and the drills they went through on the Yankeess’ blog. New York Magazine also does a nice piece on Jeter’s swing, and the drills he incorporated to improve it. The magazine also provided a pretty pictogram.

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and the drive using just the arms.

Because these basic moves are both used by high level rowers, I had my athletes do them. Whether or not Brad Alan Lewis mentions them his his books, or Mr. Snape has never heard of them, is beside the point.

So, you know, there’s that…

I’d venture to say most sports have skills important to them that can be drilled in component parts. In Olympic weightlifting, there is the hang clean and snatch or partial pulls just to name a few. In tennis there is the toss of the serve or the dip and rise of the serve. In a quaterback’s throw there is shouder turn, elbow height, elbow release, release point, finger placement, arc trajectory, all of which can be drilled separately.

So, you know, there’s that…

With that let me paraphrase the words of my man Kenny Powers by saying, before you say anything, know what the fcuk you’re talking about or prepare to STFU!

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One Response to Before You Say Anything, Prepare To STFU

  1. joelsnape says:

    Thanks for the response, BT. Perhaps I’m being an idiot, but I don’t see where – in either the Yankees blog or the NY magazine piece – it says anything about Jeter breaking his swing down into component parts, either by practising the first and second ‘halves’ of the swing separately, or by drilling his arm and leg movements separately, which I guess would be analogous to your rowing suggestion. Yes, he restructured it, but that’s not the same.

    Also, it’s interesting that you didn’t mention the reverse pick in your original piece, which makes me think that you’ve found it since and used it to retroactively justify your programming. But look at what they’re doing: they’re doing a tailored drill based on, in the words of I’d Hit It, ‘optimizing coordination between the upper and lower body movements.’ They aren’t ‘Essentially just using their legs,’ it’s a full-body move. If doing that drill was your intention, maybe you should have mentioned that in the first post. Incidentally, I don’t think I’m an expert, and didn’t claim to be – perhaps I should have said more clearly, though, that I have asked Olympic rowers specifically about drills that they’d suggest for intermediates to improve their rowing, and none have mentioned that drill.

    Finally, I have no problem with the point that the arms-only and legs-only moves have been programmed by HQ, might come up in the Games, and are a worthwhile subject of practise for anyone who wants to enter the Games. Similarly, if you were going to enter a hotdog-eating contest, I’d happily accept that you should train by eating a load of hotdogs. Whether I think that entering hotdog-eating contests is worthwhile or promotes skills that are transferable to real life is another question entirely.

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