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Old 09-14-2004, 10:47 AM   #1
Dan MacDougald
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I am tempted to wait until we have had more success but I cannot resist posting about our progress.

3 weeks ago, at our 1st practice, I started using Tabata intervals on things like squats & burpees as part of rugby training sessions. We had a pukie at the 1st practice and he won a T shirt for his effort. This past Saturday we played Clemson Univ, a highly regarded Div 1 team in southeastern rugby (we are Div 2 coming off a rebuilding year) and though we lost on the scoreboard, we were fitter and significantly out played them the last 20 minutes. Clemson practice 5x week with very heavy emphasis on fitness. We practice 2x week and spend less time on fitness at team training now than in the past. I attribute much of this to CrossFit. What remains is for me to sell them on CrossFit training outside of practice.

You can expect the Clemson coach to be a convert very soon because he was absolutely amazed. He happens also to be the USA National Collegiate Coach

The rest I attribute to adopting the mental model for coaches espoused at www.positivecoach.org. I cannot praise them enough. The primary purpose of playing games is to have fun. Success should not be determined by the scoreboard alone but by effort and progress. Give them permisison to make mistakes without fear, ask only that they learn from them. I now have 40 enthusiastic kids eager to get better at rugby where in the past we struggled to keep 20 kids out.

Thank you CrossFit. You are the cutting edge.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:31 AM   #2
Mike Minium
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Dan,

Great post--thanks for sharing. Keep us updated on your team's progress.

Also, I like the bit you wrote about emphasizing that games are fun, and that success isn't determined by the scoreboard alone.

It reminds me of something John Wooden used to say (I'm paraphrasing): He used to tell his (ten-time NCAA champion) basketball team that the team that made the most mistakes would win. Now, was he completely serious? No, probably not. But he wanted to get across the point that in competition, you can't be afraid of making mistakes, and that the looser, more relaxed team would almost always come out ahead. That message has always stuck with me.

Mike
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:44 AM   #3
Dan MacDougald
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I really cannot say enough about the positive coaching model that they have, and the book "Double Goal Coach" by the founder of positivecoach.org.

He does have a lot in common with Wooden, who he quotes extensively and who also did not define success by winning but by other measures, mainly being the best you could be.

As to how to view mistakes, the website and the book have extensive citations to research that indicates that athletes who are trying to avoid mistakes perform poorly compared to athletes who don't worry about mistakes and who focus on mastery rather than outcome. This is particularly applicable to rugby where high levels of aggression are desirable. Timidity creeps in where athletes are afraid to make mistakes.
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Old 09-14-2004, 12:19 PM   #4
Ryan Atkins
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Dan,

Thanks for the link. I like the theme of that site.

Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life by Chungliang Al Huang is another book some of you may want to check out. The book encourages athletes to focus on the process. The author echoes a lot of the same sentiments expressed at the site you mentioned.

Ryan
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Old 09-15-2004, 03:14 PM   #5
Patrick A. Stewart
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Dan

Glad to hear you did so well against Clemson - we've got a game with them later on in the season.

I've been moving the guys here at Arkansas State to more of a tabata protocol (typically burpees) and their fitness has likewise benefitted... They say that they are currently in the best shape they've ever been in and it showed this past weekend in a game against Ole Miss.
We'll have to see how our two games go this weekend (the real test, I guess).
Thanks for the citations - I'm putting both of books suggested on my reading list.

Good luck this season - I hope we get to meet in the South tournament.

cheers

Patrick
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Old 09-16-2004, 04:25 AM   #6
Dan MacDougald
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Hell Patrick,
Say hello to Huck for me. I was in Palo Alto, sitting in the Cal Poly section with Tony Neely for your game v. Salisbury. My 1st exposure to positivecoach.org came at the coaching conference out there. My dream would be to meet you in the playoffs.

I have been using tabata burpees as well as squats, keeping the pressure on by gradually ramping up the # of intervals. Went hard with it on Tues and they were toast, 30 minutes passed before they stopped walking bowlegged.

Ryan, I have ordered the book you recommended. It seems to have some things in common with two books recommended on the positivecoach.org site, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life (Masterminds Series) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Flow in Sports, by the Susan Jackson & Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The second book has extensive quotes and examples given by Aussie ruggers. The themes are that you will only get into flow states when (1) you are challenged at or near your capacity, (2) you focus on the process not the outcome.
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Old 09-16-2004, 08:16 PM   #7
David Wood
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Dan:

How many burpees do you guys get per 20-second interval? I've been working these hard, but can't get past 7/interval.

Dave
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Old 09-17-2004, 07:22 AM   #8
Patrick A. Stewart
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David

I can't speak for Dan, but I've been informally following the tabata protocol for a while now (mainly burpees in increasing numbers with decreasing rest) and it has been extremely successful fitnesswise (we made it to the aforementioned National championship game - but met Salisbury - an exceptionally tough team). Fitness was a huge factor in getting there. While I haven't got specific time - it is roughly 8 burpees without pushup but with knee thrust to chest and having them provide the count. In this case though, I've given them longer rest intervals (~15 seconds)

Just a side note - did tabata sprints yesterday up and down the field. Four minutes (eight intervals) and they were toast...

My players love me now!

Patrick

Dan - Coach Curt says hi! Keep up the progress so we have to host the elite eight and have two South teams in the National Championship! Also, a quick question - I really like your idea of giving out the pukie t-shirt... do you just give one out if there is actual vomit/dryheaves - or do you have a different decision rule?
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Old 09-22-2004, 05:53 AM   #9
Dan MacDougald
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Sorry for delay in replies. I've been off the grid for a few days. I live on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, and thanks to Hurricane Ivan I had 4 feet of water inside my house on Fri morning. Tabata furniture moving Thur night followed by Tabata mud shoveling since Sat. During the flood itself it was wine and cigars and laissez les bon temps roulez. We must accept the ugly with the beautiful.

My guys who are fit are getting about 7-8 burpees. This seems to hurt them more that squats now. Big guys have more trouble with burpees.

I would really appreciate suggestions on what other team exercises are good with tabata protocol.

On awarding the shirt, I gave it to a guy who did blow lunch. I think you have to decide whether they are sick because of pushing to the limit (good) or because they ate/drank too much.
The idea is to encourage effort without regard to outcome.
Soon after getting turned onto CF I sought out a O lifting instructor in Atlanta. I found an old guy named John Coffee. He told me a wonderful story of how the Bulgarians select youngsters for their lifting program. They do the strength and flexibility tests you might expect then they have the ones who have passed these tests run a 400 meter race. They don't care about time or who finishes where, they look to see who collapses at the end, having fully spent themselves. Those are the kids they take.

Patrick, I dont' know about playoffs this year, we are so green, but we will give it our best shot.

Jim Gaine at Clemson, now USA Collegiate Coach, advises me that he has now joined CF. The message is spreading.
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Old 09-23-2004, 08:22 AM   #10
Patrick A. Stewart
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Dan

I'm sorry to hear about Ivan's effect - my parents condo on Vero Beach, FL got hit pretty bad as well (but not as bad as they expected).

My guys "love" the burpees - although they are complaining now about how their legs are hurting from the tabata squats (which is great, because many of them don't get down low enough in the game, and this will give them flexibility... another crossfit benefit!) which we did for the first time on Tuesday. So far, they're buying into tabata and Crossfit (of course, the offseason is a whole different matter).

While not "tabata" - I've had success with both medicine ball work and sandbag work. Also, I highly recommend "Complete Conditioning for Rugby" by Dan Lugar and Paul Pook - it has some great ideas in it.

Thanks for the insight on the shirt award - will be doing that for sure. I love the anecdote - it has stirred some thought in me concerning recruiting.

As to the playoffs - we're pretty green ourselves losing a lot of seniors - and hey, it's the fall, time to find out who can do what - I'm hoping we'll both be in the mix come Spring...

Cheers and good luck

Patrick
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