Be a Technician

By: Wes Kimball

When I played football, my coach Stan Eggen’s favorite saying was, “Be a Technician.”  Every day in practice, we drilled throwing our hands, firing off the ball low and aggressive, and practiced pass rush drills.  In fact, I can remember our entire sequence of pass rush drills even though I haven’t “rushed a passer” in over 5 years. Why did he make us do this?  Why didn’t we just bust heads and grind it out every day in practice?  Simply because he understood that the fundamentals are incredibly important, and for us to continue to get better, we had to be exceptional at the little things.  If he could turn us into a D-line full of “technicians,” we could overcome any “talent” deficiency that we had as a unit.  What were his results?  At this point in his career, Coach Eggen has coached more than a dozen defensive lineman who were selected in the NFL draft and over 20 who signed NFL contracts.

So, how can we apply this concept to training for the sport of fitness?  The answer is quite simple:  dedicate time and resources to moving more efficiently.  We all have a ceiling when it comes to raw physical tools, and you basically have to play with the hand that you were dealt.  However, we can always improve the way we use those tools. Fundamental things like building a great strict pull-up before you kip your arms off, or developing a sound front squat, deadlift, and clean before you do 30 TnG cleans, allows you to develop as a fitness athlete on a constant trajectory.  Training is like building a house (not buying a house), and often times, folks want to skip right ahead to the fancy stuff before they take care of the little things that ensure their progression.  The great ones are always the ones that not only nurture and develop their physical tools, but are also a master of their craft.  Here is one simple way to be a better technician.

Look for regression over progression!

When you are stuck on a skill or movement, think about ways to regress or make it simpler, as opposed to making it more complicated or advanced.  For example:  In CrossFit, the muscle up is an advanced movement.  Instead of flaying around endlessly on the rings, try to improve these 5 things (all of which you practiced with Miguel this weekend :))

1. Shoulder Mobility
2. Pushing Strength (ie. being capable of 3 ring dips)
3. Pulling Strength (ie. 3 strict pull-ups)
4. Coordination through the transition (banded MU transitions, kip swings, CTB Pull-ups)
5. Core control (Hard Planks, and Hollow Holds)

Regressing and improving these components needed for a muscle-up will undoubtedly push you closer to getting a muscle-up than just aimlessly trying to do one.

This goes for any movement.  If you are struggling with, or have plateaued in something specific, chances are that there is a certain aspect of that skill or movement that is holding you back.  Creating awareness around where the deficiency lies, regressing, and then attacking it head on, will no doubt get you back on the track for success.

*Post thoughts to comments!