A Day (as a Coach) at the 2016 CrossFit Games

Well, its taken me quite a while, but I’m finally past my traveling hangover from attending the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games…HA!
I know this post is one that all of you have been waiting for me to write. Believe me, so have I. Uncertainty about the direction that I wanted to take it was the cause of my delay.
Each day I walk into my office, I’m greeted by a few pieces of memoribilia that will adorn the gym walls soon enough – Jay’s jersey and his starting mat.
Its things like that that take me back to our experience out there like it was just yesterday. So, what I’d like to do is take you through a typical day at the CrossFit Games from the perspective of a coach. Who knows, maybe this can be a series of posts??
Without further ado, here is “A Day (as a Coach) at the CrossFit Games:”
Each day, Jay and I were required to be at the athlete/coach briefing inside the soccer stadium by 7am. This meant a few things: Jay had to check-in by 6:30am and in order for me to be there by 6:30, I had to get up at 5:00! You know what a big deal that is, don’t you??
Anyhow, at the briefing, which started promptly at 7:30, we went over that days workouts: standards of movement, good vs bad reps, walk through of the execution of the workout, where to go when, etc. Q&A time was quite possibly the most entertaining part of the entire trip…I’ll just put it this way – as coaches at CFG, we often joke about all the questions we get from each of you when there is like 30 seconds to go before a workout starts. Well, the “elite” are not immune from this silliness either! In fact, I’m pretty sure that some of the questions from these folks almost made the head judges head explode.
With briefings over at 8am, we would make a plan (based on his 1st heat time) about when we would start warm-up. Jay would head back to the athlete’s retreat to relax and get some food. I would head into the stadium to watch most of the heats prior to him mainly so that I could get a feel for the pace of each workout and come up with a sound strategy for him. I would take notes and even send him little snippets of things to keep in mind as he worked through that particular workout.
Then, about 45 minutes or one hour before his heat time, I’d meet him down at the athlete warm-up area to…you guessed it…WARM-UP! Each warm-up, for every workout he did, consisted of 2 parts –

1. The general/dynamic warm-up, in which we were raising his core temperature (read: making him sweat), got blood moving, and moved his major joints through a full range of motion.

2. The specific movement warm-up, in which we practiced the actual movements he’d be doing out on the field.

(Interesting side-bar for all of you – every single athlete that I saw down there would warm-up oddly similar to just how we do it here at CFG. General/dynamic movements? Check. Specific movement prep? Check. Not only that, most of them didn’t have to be told what to do…they just did it. I guess there must be something to all this warm-up stuff we do! Jay told me to make sure I stressed the importance of this for you guys.)
Now here was the tough part of our day – 25 minutes prior to him taking the field, his heat was called back to the corrals (yes, literal horse corrals) in order to get them lined up into the proper lane assignments. You read that right – we’d spend anywhere from 20-30 minutes getting him all warmed up and ready to go only to have him stand around (with nothing but the thoughts in his head) for 25 minutes…or just long enough to cool down. This was a big learning experience for the both of us – we had to come up with creative ways to keep him warm during that time. Thankfully, the sweltering heat helped with much of that!
As soon as he got corralled, I headed back to the stadium to secure my seat as close to where his lane was. Depending on how close he was competing, I could offer a few words or hand signals for coaching tips (or send text messages to Coach Jim to yell at him during his run!), but for the most part he was on his own during the workouts.
After the workout was done, I’d sprint (yes, sprint) back to the warm-up area which is where we’d meet up to go through his cool-down sequence. Wait, what? Cool-down? Yes…also known as recovery for the next workout. This was a bit funny for me, because knowing Jay well enough, I know that he doesn’t typically do this after his workouts, and so I knew it’d be met with a bit of a “Huh?” No worries, coaching is what I was there for, so my orders were – “Hop on the assault bike for 15 minutes…then we head to the ice bath!” WHAT?? Yep…ice bath…after every workout. After his first bout through the cool down process, and subsequently using the assault bike during the next warm-up protocol, he was a believer.
So, after we were done with all of this, we’d look ahead to his next workout time and plan when we’d link back up to start his next warm-up. His plan going back to the athlete retreat was to refuel (eat) and rest. I’d check my phone periodically in case he needed anything brought to him…like cold brew coffee or a huge hamburger. When time allowed, he’d come out to spend time with his family and all his CFG fans.
As for me? I’d be back to the stadium to watch more heats and take more notes for strategy.
Most of the days I was there until at least 7 or 8, sometimes 9. Long days yes…but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

people working out in a group fitness class


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