First off let me thank you for the incredible resource you provide through CFFB. We introduced CFFB to our high school athletes for the first time last January (2011) and we are seeing extremely impressive results. Intensity is through the roof, strength increases are coming in droves (I wish we were introduced to linear progression many years ago!) and most importantly the kids love it. The linear progression provides them instant feedback everyday and the wods provide the competitive environment that is lacking during the football off-season. Now to my question. We are big believers in building well rounded athletes in the weight room. Consistent with this mandate we test a base set of indicator exercises about 4 times per year, award points, and in July we name our strength athlete of the year (by weight class). At my previous high school we had records that went back over a decade and the kids competed violently to not only be at the top of the current year board but to bust onto the “all time” board. I am sure many schools do something very similar. I have recently joined a new high school and we are rethinking our indicator exercises and how we award points. Traditionally we have used the Squat, Clean, Bench, max strict chin-ups, the 40, 3-cone drill, vertical jump, and 1 mile run (this one makes me cringe but it pre-dates me). Our best on the field performers always put up stellar numbers in the squat, 40, vertical, and believe it or not (I have no idea why) chin-ups. The others don’t correlate quite as well. If you were to put together a similar test what would your set of indicators be? We use this test for 3 primary reasons: 1) it helps us identify our best athletes, 2) It keeps the kids motivated and hungry, 3) It gives us priceless feedback on our strength and conditioning program. We are thinking about going with at least 2 or three absolute strength indicators, 1 or 2 relative strength indicators (eg chin-ups), 2 or 3 dynamic indicators (eg. the 40), and then we would like to add 2 or 3 metabolic workouts (something like Tillman???) We feel pretty strong about the metabolic indicators (although they will be new for us) because we feel they build team grit/unity and we think they do a phenomenal job of promoting lean body mass which should help develop the other indicators. Maybe a better way of asking the question is: if you had to pick a football team from a group of 1000 kids you had never seen play based purely on your indicators what would your indicators be?
Thank you for your feedback!
My first year of high school I attended Palos Verdes High, the Sea Kings. The school had a rich tradition of on the field success and weight room prowess. My first day as a freshman walking into the weight room, I was met by dozens of names listed under categories on a back wall.
The categories were:
- Squat – 400 lbs
- Bench – 300 lbs
- Deadlift – 500 lbs
- Power Clean – 250 lbs
- Vertical Jump
- 40 yard Sprint
My brothers had played at Palos Verdes and I had been going to football games since I was little, so I recognized several names on the wall, but there were many I had never heard of. When asked who some of the unknown names were, I was told this tradition went back many years.
Every player in that room, freshman to senior, had visions of being on that wall, holding a record that would still stand for years. I was no exception.
We were told that first day, if you totaled 1450 lbs you receive a sticker to be worn on your football helmet.
And now you know the origin of the CrossFit Football Total. Whenever the total comes up, I scan through and see how many would have earned a helmet sticker.
Palos Verdes closed the next year and the records were lost, but mentally I always compared myself to those names. Every time I hit a PR I would mentally place myself on the wall.
After high school, I attended UC Berkeley. Walking into the Cal weight room I saw that same thing I had seen at PV those years before. On a far wall in the weight room there were nameplates, categories, records and a place for the name of the Strongest Bear. This time there were no unknown names, as many of the names were past and present NFL players and current Golden Bears.
The categories were for the highest 1 rep max in…
- Power Clean
- 40-yard sprint
- Vertical Jump
The Strongest Bear award was given to the player with the highest total on the lifts during the strength testing before training camp. I won my sophomore and senior years.
If I were going to create a record board, I would pull from my past and present.
- Squat – 1 RM
- Squat – 3 RM
- Bench – 1 RM
- Bench – 3 RM
- Power Clean
- Power Snatch
- Max Weighted Pull Up
- Vertical Jump
- 10-yard sprint
- 40-yard sprint
- Fastest 2 x 300 yard shuttle *5 min rest
- The last one would change each year and be the conditioning test before training camp. Going to off-season the workout would be revisited 3-4 times, but always change at the beginning of the year. (You have over a 1000 workouts on CFFB to choose from)
I would set benchmarks for the kids to train for. The reward given at Palos Verdes was solid, if a player reaches the total he should get a sticker for his helmet and patch for his letterman jacket.
You would be amazed how those things motivate.
Best of luck.
John, We just started the 750lb, 1000lb & 1250lb club based on the CFFB total at the high schjool I coach at. We award t-shirts. We are a small school of 450 kids here in Seaside, Orgeon. This was a timely article for us to read. Thanks for everything. Going to the CFFB cert in Charlotte in 2010 set the stage for this.
John, thank you for your invaluable knowledge and great stories.
I have a question about what you regard as the score, “The Total”. Obviously, for the lifts you just get the sum of the weight lifted, but how would you equate the vertical jump and sprints into the score of The Total to find the best athlete or award the helmet sticker? Or are you just awarding the strongest athlete and the other top performers just get their name on the wall?
How would you score the runs? I don’t coach or play any sports but me and some of my buddies have been trying to come up with a test/competition for my office of people who are supposed to take quarterly PT Tests but rarely participate on anything other than paper. Maybe a terrificate and a shirt would stimulate some movement there too.
We love your programming keep up the awesome service…please.
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