Teen CrossFit Athletes – Developing the Next Generation

As the Sport of CrossFit ages, so too do the competitors and this leaves space for the next generation.

There is one thing for sure and that is the next generation will push the limits we are seeing today and new superstars will rise up, we already see the teenagers hitting scary weights:

17 year old male 291lbs snatch:

E aí galera, o que acharam da primeira prova?🤔😁 #GuiNoGames #TeamMalheiros #GamesBound 🎥 @boilerchannel 😂😂😂

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14 year old girl 180lbs snatch (+ 3 attempts at 190lbs…)

Combine this with great conditioning and the ability to move well and you have an excellent foundation for a competitive CrossFit athlete.

The Differences:

The biggest differences between the current top level athletes (at least the larger majority) and the next generation is that the current athletes started CrossFit at a later age and therefore have a background in sports other than CrossFit.

It means that the current athletes have not only had to develop their baseline strength and conditioning but also learn a huge amount of techniques from Olympic lifting to rowing to gymnastics. Also unless they were lucky in their previous training, they will have to spend a lot of time improving their mobility just to be able to perform the required movements.

One of the most important aspects of the Teen Camps is building a solid movement foundation on which the athletes can build on over the years to come. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ We focus not only on making sure the athletes understand the importance of good movement, but making sure they also have the tools of how to improve. Sometimes this involves turning the movement work in to something a little more different, like partner squats or more structured, like paused KB overhead squats… ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ The ability to move well is a big separator in the sport of CrossFit and during competitions it becomes clear who has been developing their foundations, which can take time. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ – 📸 @jacdah 👌 – If you are interested in attending a Teen Camp please send a message on Instagram with your e-mail address, or e-mail johnchristiansingleton@gmail.com

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However when you begin sport from a younger age you are more adaptable and faster to acquire motor skills/patterns. If during this period you have learnt how to lift, how to do multiple ring muscle ups, how to be a technically proficient runner etc, you don’t have to worry (as much) regarding the technical components when you enter adulthood. We can therefore apply more time into the development/maintenance of other areas needed to be competitive in the sport.

I do believe that playing other sports can be of great advantage to teenage athletes wanting to compete in CrossFit, as there are many crossovers from a variety of sports that can be a significant help. However I don’t believe it is absolutely necessary if, in the right environment, solely practising CrossFit can be sufficient to realise their potential.

How do we Develop the Teenage CrossFit Athlete?

TRAINING

Movement is the foundation of what you do and if you don’t move well, you won’t perform well.

This is something we focus on heavily in The Progrm and something I try to instill with the teenage athletes that I work with. If you can give them strong enough foundations in efficient movement and good technique then the rest will be easy.

Here is an example of Olivia:

Movement is the foundation of what we do, if you don't move to your full potential you won't be able to compete at your full potential. It is that simple. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ There is a notion that hard work pays off, however if this hard work isn't smart, chances are it won’t. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Athletes can have a tendency to want to work hard by lifting more weight, pushing hard in conditioning workouts or training longer hours. However working smartly on developing the foundations, such as how you are moving can be even more important for certain athletes. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Recently I began working with young @oliviaskogstrand and luckily she understands that working smartly does pay off. Here she has been making sure that her ankles are beginning to move to their full potential. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ This is part of the next article for @boxrox on "Developing the next generation". ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ If your that person who can't overhead squat an empty barbell, but wants to Snatch heavy weights, it may be time to start building a stronger foundation. . #TheProgrm @TheProgrm

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She is only 14 years old and there is only 1 week difference between the videos, however with a set of simple drills and her self discipline she has made tremendous gains in a short period of time.

MOTIVATION

Motivation plays such an important role at this age. There are some extremely talented athletes out there who will never realise their true athletic potential, because they haven’t found the passion for the sport. Or they are distracted by other vices, that their friends are most likely encouraging them into.

Therefore having an enjoyable environment for the teen athletes to develop in is so important and quite possibly one of the biggest factors in the athlete becoming successful in the sport.

TEEN CAMPS

Over the last 3 years I have been running Teen Camps with small groups of teenage athletes, they are a excellent opportunity to bring the athletes together and develop them as a group. It is incredible to see the progress they make over the week and the community that forms between them, many of the groups are still in daily contact 3 years later and these groups play a large part in their motivation within the sport.

What will the next generation achieve?

We are already starting to see the answer to that question. Whilst at the 2016 Games with one of my Teen athletes Axel Lundgren, I was blown away by the performances of the top 2 finishers, George Sterner and Nicolas Paladino. Not only their strength numbers, but their overall capacity at just 17 years old was/is phenomenal.

Time will tell, however as I mentioned in the introduction I do expect to see the next generation will push the limits we are seeing today, not only in increased weights and improved conditioning, but also development of movement efficiency within the sport.

If you are interested in attending a Teen Camp then please contact. info@theprogrm.com

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About The Author

John is the head coach of The Progrm. He holds a Masters degree in Osteopathy and has been working with CrossFit athletes since 2007. He has coached some of Europe’s best athletes including Sara Sigmundsdottir, Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson, Lukas Esslinger and Adrian Mundwiler. As well as the 2016 Fittest Teen in Europe Axel Lundgren.

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