This article was originally posted in the CrossFit Journal. For the full article, please visit https://journal.crossfit.com/article/from-grassroots-to-the-greats
To most of the world, Ben Bergeron is the coach of CrossFit Games champs Mathew Fraser and Katrin Davidsdottir. To a group of athletes at CrossFit New England, he’s the guy who’s owned the regular 8:30-a.m. slot for years.
Bergeron could easily give up that 8:30 class, but he’s as dedicated to helping office workers and firefighters achieve a lifetime of health and fitness as he is to helping elite athletes win the CrossFit Games.
What works for Fraser does not necessarily work for a retired CEO, so Bergeron carefully tailors his coaching style to fit the athlete’s goals, whether that’s winning the CrossFit Games or pursuing lifelong health and fitness […]
From my early days as an affiliate owner, I have been driven by the adage that the “blind and relentless pursuit of excellence ” is what determines success. This stunningly simple and profound recommendation that Coach Greg Glassman spread to the affiliate Community years ago was one of the original things that drew me to becoming a CrossFit affiliate owner.
I believe in the pursuit of excellence and have centered my entire business on this concept. At first glance, the notion of excellence can seem broad, general and vague. Sure, excellence is a noble goal worthy of any business owner’s time and effort, but how does the pursuit of excellence drive the day-to-day operations of an affiliate? I believe understanding this concept can direct decisions, establish core values and competencies, and ultimately determine the success of an affiliate.
The pursuit of excellence, in regards to operating a world-class CrossFit affiliate, has everything to do with your current members. It has to do with their happiness inside and outside the walls of your gym. It relates to their growing confidence and their acceptance as a part of your community, and it has to do with their health, wellness, fitness and results. In other words, the pursuit of excellence is the pursuit of improving the lives of your members.
This seems simple enough, and it is. Just don’t confuse simple with easy.
The essence of CrossFit coaching is to get our clients to move better.
Good coaches can see faults and have the tools, knowledge and ability to correct these faults. If you can get your athletes to consistently move better, you are a considered a “good coach.”
But what then makes a “great coach”?
I believe great coaches have the ability to go beyond the movements and connect with their athletes. I call this the “deeper side of coaching,” which is developing an awareness of your athletes’ potential, building trust and creating an atmosphere of success. The deeper side of coaching is about establishing and nurturing a strong relationship between an athlete and a coach. And I would argue this relationship is the foundation of our true goals as coaches: to improve the lives, health and happiness of our clients.
CrossFit is training for the unknown and unknowable, but for top athletes, knowing the date of game day changes the game, Ben Bergeron says.
“We’re no longer training for the unknown and unknowable. We’re no longer training for ‘a constant, ready state,’” the co-owner and head coach of CrossFit New England says of athletes competing at Regionals and the CrossFit Games.
He adds: “We know when game day is. It’s the middle of July.”
Likewise, Bergeron breaks up the year so his athletes peak at the Games:
- August: rest and recovery.
- September and October: strength.
- November and December: speed strength.
- January: solely dedicated to weaknesses.
- February and March: met-cons.
- April and May: Regional prep.
- June and July: Games prep.
In the case of Regional competition, where the workouts are known weeks before game day, it’s “irresponsible” not to train the movements if the goal is to go the Games, Bergeron says.
“Those six weeks, we are no longer CrossFitters,” he explains. “We are deadlift-box jump specialists, we are thruster specialists, we are Amanda specialists. … We specialize those workouts. We excel at them. We know the workouts inside, outside cold, frontwards and backwards. We know exactly the stimulus. … We are peaked at those movements.”
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Additional audio: CrossFit Radio Episode 202 by Justin Judkins, published Dec. 14, 2011.