The difference between training athletes and doing Crossfit

I wrote about Crossfit once, so I am not going to write another lengthy post. However, after listening to some Crossfitters this morning, I felt compelled to make a second post, especially as it seems that Crossfit workouts are gaining in popularity among basketball players. 

The Crossfitters were talking about their soreness from a previous workout. They spoke about not being able to walk the next day as a great workout. They treat DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) like a badge of pride.

That’s fine, if that’s all you do and want to do. If it makes you feel good to not be able to walk after doing 400m of overhead lunge walks, more power to you.

When I train a basketball team, however, the players have to be able to walk the next day. Their goal isn’t to complete a 400m lunge walk in the shortest possible time, their goal is to play basketball better. If I destroy the players with lunges, deadlifts, squats, etc., and they cannot perform on the basketball court the next day, I failed.

Lifting weights is part of the performance program. Our sessions are not the entirety of their training. The numbers that the players put up in the weight room and the times that they achieve in sprints do not matter if they perform poorly on the court.

Working at a junior college, I never know when a D1, D2, D3, or NAIA coach is going to pop in to check out a player in practice. What happens if the player is destroyed physically from an extra hard workout and performs poorly in front of a coach? What if a player is fatigued from the previous day’s workout and twists an ankle or tears an ACL?

Wrecking your body in every workout is not training for sports performance. DOMS is not a positive for an athlete engaged in pre-season preparations. Off the court training, whether strength, power or conditioning-related, is meant to supplement and enhance on court training and performance, not detract from it. If a player is too tired or too sore to perform optimally in practice the next day, something is wrong. Either the workout was too far beyond the players’ abilities or the recovery between workouts and practices is inadequate. The true measure of a successful workout is that it stretches the players’ current abilities without being too hard to prevent adequate recovery.

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