Like many kids growing up, I played a different sport every season. Basketball, soccer, baseball, and even field hockey. Every weekend was spent at a tournament, or being shuttled from practice to practice. I fell in love with all sports and wanted nothing but to be able to play. It wasn’t until high school that I decided to choose one sport and focus all of my efforts on it. I chose basketball.
If you’ve ever played, or even watched basketball, you know it’s a tall person sport. I mean, the rim is ten feet high! You have to be able to get the ball up there, and shoot it over the taller guys on the other team. I am not tall. I wasn’t particularly fast or quick either; just average speed. Honestly, I didn’t have a physical attribute that gave me a step on my competition. So that’s that.
After this realization, I began seriously weight training during my freshman year of high school. The guys on the basketball team went to an off campus trainer three times a week to get their off season and pre-season workouts in. Our workouts consisted of everything from squats, to pull-ups, to bench press, to plyometrics. For teenagers, it was hard stuff. But, it was always fun! You forget you’re working out when you’re hanging out and having fun with your friends. The fact that we pushed each other off the court to be in better shape, made us a more cohesive unit when we stepped onto the court to play.
For me personally, I put on muscle but didn’t turn into a stud. I was still a smaller athlete. I did, however, get stronger and faster. As the weight on my squat increased, so did my vertical jump. As my bench press got stronger, my upper body got a little bit bigger and allowed me to be more physical during games. As the plyometric training progressed and got more difficult, my stamina and conditioning during games allowed me to stay fresher for longer. Overall, my confidence on the court increased. I felt head strong because I knew what my body could do. I knew I could push and keep going after other guys tire out.
Gary, our team’s trainer, found CrossFit my junior year of high school. He introduced it to us that year as a form of conditioning before we transitioned into more specific basketball conditioning. That style of training taught us how keep good form when we were fatigued. Maintaining a proper squat when you are breathing heavy and your heart rate is through the roof is more important to your sport than you would think. Reinforcing proper squatting mechanics everyday allowed me to stay injury free. I was able to stay strong on the court when I was tired and fatigued. My knees never gave out on me, and when somebody fell on my leg it never buckled and became injured. And, CrossFit was a lot of fun! We did CrossFit style workouts on Fridays, and they were always different. On the days we would repeat a workout, it was always awesome to see how much I improved physically.
My love for working out and weight training blossomed during that freshman year of high school. Season after season, I continued to workout and get stronger both physically and mentally. It was always that mentality of what’s next. I squatted 225 for the first time, well now I want to squat 250. I’m now able to touch the rim, but now I want to be able to dunk. The weight room was a place for me to express my desire to constantly see what I was capable of achieving. I knew if I was consistent in getting stronger and faster in the weight room, I would get better on the court. And I did. I became captain of the Varsity team my senior year, and helped make the playoffs for the first time in years. Even after I graduated high school, I had that longing for working out and bettering myself.
It all started freshman year of high school, and I want it to continue at Angel Oak CrossFit. Weight training as a teenager did more for me than just make me stronger and faster. It instilled a quality of hard work and determination. The gym is a place where girls and boys build confidence and self-esteem that will continue into their daily lives. It’s more than just working out and lifting weights; it’s instilling healthy habits that will carry on for a lifetime.
It all starts with one workout. That is what the Teen Athletic Development program at Angel Oak CrossFit is all about. Each workout will be focused on the technical skills and quality of movement to ultimately improve performance on and off the field. We will start with the basics, and make sure each athlete has a solid foundation of safe movement. Slowly, we will periodize each workout and begin to progress the athlete based on their physical capabilities. Our goal is to reach as many athletes as we can, and show them that working out and training can be fun!