June 18, 2009
Your gym teacher may have had you running laps after class, but you won’t find much punishment in CrossFit. Mike Warkentin talks to John Welbourn and Mike Burgener about how they use “motivational consequences” to focus their athletes.
Basketball practice, circa 1987.
You rim out on a foul shot. The coach responds by making you run laps while the rest of the team scrimmages. He’s threatening more if you don’t pick up the pace.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.
What your gym teacher might have called punishment can indeed be found in CrossFit from time to time. In CrossFit Endurance WODs you’ll find the occasional “foul,” such as an isometric squat for two minutes if one running interval is slower than its predecessor. Similarly, “penalties” sometimes appear in CrossFit Football workouts. Olympic Lifting Certs are characterized by bouts of burpees.
But coaches such as John Welbourn and Mike Burgener don’t view the additional work they infrequently assign as punishment used to beat athletes into submission.
“I’ve played for coaches who were huge punishment guys... and I don’t necessarily buy into that because I’ve always been intrinsically motivated,” Welbourn says. “I’m able to get my own motor going. I don’t need someone to scream at me to do it.”
Burgener, on the other hand, will throw extra work at athletes to keep them focused, but he says it doesn’t take many burpees to keep a group on task.
“It’s amazing what transformation takes place when you have that threat, that motivational consequence of doing burpees,” he says. “Very, very rarely do I have to do very many burpees.”