Don’t Be a Hunt-and-Pecker

by Coach Chris

I learned how to type in the 5th grade. Mrs. Szabo had us in front of our computers (Compaqs, I think) and a typing book standing up so we knew which typing drill we were on.

At first we learned proper hand placement on the home keys – ASDF for the left hand and JKL: for the right hand. From there we learned how each finger could go up, down, or to the side, and slowly worked our way through the keyboard.

Once we started actually typing words, it was a slow go. Mrs. Szabo wouldn’t allow us to hunt and peck with just our index fingers so we had to slow down and concentrate.

D-O-G.
C-A-T.
A-M-B-I-D-E-X-T-R-O-U-S. Just kidding. But you get the idea.

Once we had words down, then we were typing full sentences that were laid out in the typing book and before you know it, we were typing our own words.

Sometimes there would be speed sessions where we were supposed to copy the paragraph in the typing book as fast as we could, but any errors would take off points from our time. The piano players in the room seemed to have an easier time since they were already used to the dexterity needed for such an activity. Although I was not one of them, I proudly tried to keep up with them, sometimes to my detriment and sometimes with a victory.

There’s a saying in education that students need to first learn how to read before they can read to learn. The same is true for typing and the same is true for CrossFit.

When people start learning the movements in CrossFit it can be overwhelming. They see people doing Olympic lifts, complex gymnastic movements, and it seems impossible. But that’s like me in 5th grade watching a world-class typist and thinking I have to do the same exact thing from the start. No!

This is why we talk about Mechanics, Consistency, and then Intensity. You need to learn HOW to do movements first and sometimes it can be frustrating because you’re only doing a part of a movement. That’s ok! It’s all part of the process. It’s like learning the home keys first and then working your way up to words and then sentences. There’s a progression that needs to happen first.

If you don’t learn the Mechanics first, then you’re going to be a hunt-and-pecker the rest of your life. Yeah, you know those people (or maybe you are one!) Looking down at your keyboard and pecking away with your index fingers because you never learned the basics. Sure, it gets the job done, but not nearly as efficiently as someone who took the time to learn the foundations.

We see this a lot when it comes to olympic lifting. If someone is used to reverse curling the barbell up to their shoulders instead of letting their hips do the work, there’s going to be a ceiling on what they can lift. Contrast that with someone who learned proper form and that person will far exceed the reverse curler even if they weigh a lot less. It takes more patience on the front end, but the payoff later is huge.

Once you have the Mechanics and Consistency down, the Intensity (faster speed or heavier weight or both) can be applied. But even then, you shouldn’t be redlining everyday. That would be like trying to type as fast as you can everytime you sat down at your computer. Sometimes you need to do it because you have a deadline to meet and sometimes you do it just to hone your skills. Speed DOES challenge you to get better, but only in small doses and only a speed that is fast relative to you. 100-meter sprinters don’t only sprint 100 meters in practice for a reason.

Intensity is relative and should be treated as such. But only after you have the Mechanics and Consistency down. Otherwise you’re going to end up with a lot of tpyos.

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