May 1, 2012
Three Approaches to Training Teams: District, Reston, and Fairfax
By Jeremy Brown

"Chemistry and communication can make or break a team in any given workout."



When Andrew Killion and Noah Gabriel-Landis of District CrossFit sat down to put together their box’s team for the Mid Atlantic Regional, their goal was to form a team that could be ready for anything.

What they ended up with, in Killion’s words, was a team that was, “well versed enough to pretty much handle any event that came out.” While that didn’t break down to how people placed in the Open competition, it came pretty close.

After the Regional Workouts were announced, the two coaches sat down, formulated a plan of attack and sent out their marching orders to the troops. Each team member knows their events, their role within those events, and have altered their training to reflect that. If the athlete is going to be doing pull-ups, Killion has them doing all their pull-ups on the box’s Rogue pull-up bar. If an athlete is rowing, all of their warm-ups will include rowing. “For all the direct partner stuff like the partner deadlifts, we are practicing together but everyone pretty much knows their role and can train individually,” says Killion.

As Regionals draws near, the District team will practice the events with a focus on transitions and everyone perfecting their piece. 

Across the Potomac River in the suburbs of Virginia, CrossFit Fairfax and CrossFit Reston took a simpler approach to team building according to coach and co-founder Maggie Dabe. She chose the top four finishers for men and women in the Open to form their teams.  

Their training approach also differs from their counterparts in Washington D.C. While the District team focuses on the individual’s part within the team, Reston and Fairfax make an effort to train together following a schedule set up by fellow Reston coach Mehdi El-Amine.  

“Pretty much no one is doing any individual training anymore except for practicing certain parts of an event,” El-Amine says. “Most of the practice time is spent doing team work and practicing full or partial versions of the events.”

Dabe says with the increasing competitiveness of the team competition, training together is valuable. “Having a group of athletes training together is important, especially during the Games season. Athletes learn from each other, they grow and develop together; they motivate, encourage and push each other,” she says. “They know how each other works out, when to push, when to take over. They develop a bond that is hard to get if you only train together sporadically.”

El-Amine agrees. “Chemistry and communication can make or break a team in any given workout and even during practice leading up to a competition. You want teammates in the right mindset who support each other, who believe in each other and who will give their all for each other,” she says. “That can only be developed by working together as much as possible.”

One area where the three coaches agree is their belief that Event 5, the Snatch Ladder, will separate the top teams from everyone else. Although, Dabe also believes, for the women, the dumbbell snatch may also sift out some of the teams. 

“I think many are underestimating its impact on rankings but I believe every team should have its ‘A’ game and full focus when it comes to WOD 5,” El-Amine says.

Killion also says the snatch ladder will be a defining workout for his team. “I like it because you can't hide your ‘weaker’ team member. Everyone participates,” he says. “I was a rower in college and what I loved about rowing was that the best teams had ‘the best worst guy.’ I feel like the snatch ladder is the same. If you have five people who do great and one who can't snatch the first weight, you're in a lot of trouble. It really tests your team as a whole.”

On May 4-6 in Prince Georges County, Md., all three teams will face off against the best teams the Mid Atlantic Region has to offer for one of the few spots to compete on the international stage of the CrossFit Games.