Training for Team Competition
How do CrossFit teams prepare for competition? While trainers and team members have been devoting a lot of thought and effort to training, CrossFit team training is still in its infancy. We talked with six trainers and teams at the South Central Regional Competition and compared their strategies with their ultimate positions on the leaderboard.
Dallas Central sent two teams to the Regionals this year, with one new to competition and other highly experienced. Coach Dean Xu says team selections for their two teams ”Team 1” and “The B Dream” were based on individual performances in the open. Team 1’s men include Matt Anderson, James Hugo, Don Walker and Trey Kubacak. The Dallas Central men finished 271(Walker), 209th (Hugo), 63rd (Anderson) and 8th (Kubacak) in the Open, and finished first in the teams competition. The B Dream is new to competition. Coach Dean Xu says it has been great to watch them fail, and learn from their mistakes. “You learn a lot from competing.” says Xu “There is so much strategy within competitions. Learning to do transitions is extremely important. It’s very different from individual competition where you need to pace yourself. In team competition, you need to pace the team, not the individual. Team members need to go “all out.” Both teams trained as a group and focused on individual weaknesses. “There wasn’t much time to get people faster or stronger, so skills and efficiency were our major focus” said Xu.
Jason Graves and Jonathan Shelton of Crossfit Waco, Waco, TX. wanted to keep team placements clear, objective and as fair as possible. Slots went to their box’s top three men and the top three women, according to performance in the Open. Shelton stated that this was also the best way to keep a well-balanced team. This is the second year they have sent a team to the regionals. Four of this year’s team members also competed last year. Aspiring Waco team members worked out together beginning in January 2012. “We look for the weaknesses of each individual and base our programming on that” says Graves. “Our members all have different strengths as well.” “We focused on that as much as we could with the time we had. We did a lot of Olympic Lifting, high skill movements, heavy metcons, and a variation of all other aspects of CrossFit training in our workouts,” said Shelton. When asked what they would do differently next year, they replied “WIN!”
Crossfit Lake Charles from Lake Charles, Louisiana had a strong team this year. Their top three women all qualified for individual competition at the regionals this year , but chose to go the team route. The three, Danielle Sawyer age 30, Megan Noris also age 30, and Ashley Navarro age 28, along with three men Ben Vines age 24, Dettef Gharst age 28, and Mitchell Sawyer age 31, have been working with an eye to the Regionals since last November when a dozen of their box members started training together for the express purpose of forming a competitive team. “We had a team at the Regionals last year” says Danielle Sawyer “but we weren’t anywhere near as strong as we are this year.” Mitchell Sawyer got his first muscle up at last year’s Regionals, and is now able to string them together in sets of 5-7. “We’ve worked together every Sunday. Our training has been essentially coachless. We’ve been coaching each other.” When asked to describe how their team training differs from the regular Lake Charles programming Mitchell Sawyer says “We train a lot heavier. A lot heavier. We do heavy Frans, pistols, muscle-ups, gymnastics and lots of stretching for mobility. It’s made a huge difference.“ “We’re together and on the same page. And we are all very disciplined about both training and nutrition.” The entire team follows a Paleo-type diet. They were also able to draw from a 100-150 member pool since most of the box members competed in the Open. Crossfit Lake Charles is very excited about the team’s success and has been very supportive. They pulled together to raise over $3,000 for the trip to San Antonio. They were also supported by their local Police Department, held a car wash and a raffle and received assistance from neighboring Crossfit Boxes Old Glory, Bridge City and Baton Rouge. That kind of help can go a long way towards support team travel, lodging and meals.
Coach Brad Rains has been a Crossfitter for three years and a trainer for six months. His team was selected from Crossfit Nola’s top men (Aaron Hyatt age 24, 260th in the open), Brandon Ecker age 32 64th in the open), Demion Reed age 24, 178th in the open) and women (Andrea Germond age 29, 194th in the open, Kelsey Moran age 21, 135th in the open, Rae Shih age 23, 280th in the open and Taryn Heyman age 23, 356th in the open). Rains team is made of primarily experienced Crossfitters and most them are trainers as well. The team did their best to prepare together, which was not always easy because of their varied work schedules and outside demands. Their strategy was to strengthen weaknesses for all members with their heavy lifters focusing on cardio and their “high tempo” people building strength. Rains says its best for all team members to be balanced so that any weaknesses in the team will be minimized. Rains likes the change in the program. “Last year the team workouts were individually based. This year you needed lots of communication. You have to talk to your partners. We spent a week practicing strategy before heading to Texas. Doing deadlifts together is not easy.”
|The Crossfit Seven Team of Fort Worth, TX. in training. April 2012.|
Crossfit Seven of Fort Worth was coached by Ryan Shupe and Ryan “Squared” Simmons. Their team was unique in that all the athletes were well into their 30s with the exception of 17-year old Karli Kirk. Five of the team members competed in the 2011 Regionals, and all have been working out together as fellow box-members for years. “We’re a tight bunch” said Shupe. The team practiced as a group every Saturday and most Sunday’s following the open and were selected from the top finishers in the Open competition. Two of the original members, Dusty Sides (36) and Mitzi Hiley (32) were lost to injuries. “We spent a lot of time working on transitions, refining technique and increasing weight” said Simmons. “And we made sure we had a great hotel with a Paleo-friendly restaurant, pool and a hot tub in San Antonio.” The team received support from the Hotel Contessa in San Antonio, enjoyed time in the hot tub, and received sponsorship from local businesses to defray costs.
Coach Steve Galvan of Crossfit 210 in San Antonio took a strategy that differed from all of the other teams at the Regionals this year. He recruited talented, experience athletes from outside his box. “I knew exactly what I was looking for: experienced athletes with lots of fast twitch.” He started building his team early; long before the Open. Three of the men and two of the women on the team have been doing CrossFit for less than a year. One of the men has been at CrossFit for only a few months. The team includes a female ironman-athlete, and a 400 meter sprinter from A&M. Galvan focused on these six specific athletes, building their skills, correcting their weaknesses and getting them as strong as possible. Galvan, who was a Texas State Track and Field Champion who ran for Texas A&M, and was coached in Olympic Lifting by Ursula Garza and Mark Rippetoe, brought a high level of expertise to his team. It will be interesting to see how they place next year.