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By the end of the preparation phase (step 1 of my four- step training system), athletes should have developed sufficient skill and cardiovascular conditioning levels to allow safe increases in training intensity as they go to the next level. (See my articles on the preparation phase in CrossFit Journal issues 62 and 64.) Learning how to progress safely from 500 jumps to 5 minutes of jumping is a matter of focusing on body mechanics and turning technique, building concentration, and being able to rely on a good jump rope conditioning base for muscular stamina and cardiovascular endurance. By now your sense of balance, timing, and coordination should have improved to prepare you for safe progression from the 500 jumps we built up to at the end of the preparation phase to the five minutes of continuous jumping that we'll aim for this time.

During this phase your level of jump rope proficiency should allow you to gradually increase rope speeds from 140 turns per minute to somewhere in the range of 160 to 180 turns per minute. We'll also add a few additional new moves to the ones we've already discussed, the basic bounce step and the alternate-foot step. While increasing your endurance to five minutes in this phase, you'll also expand your repertoire of moves to include the side straddle, forward straddle, skier's jump, and bell jump. Performance standards for the intermediate phase

The principle of continuation is the key to maximizing each jump rope training session. Continuation means being able to sustain an uninterrupted bout of jumping lasting up to five minutes or longer while executing different foot patterns at varying intensity levels. The more proficient you become and the more endurance you develop, the more benefits you can reap from the exercise. Wearing the proper clothes, jumping on a good surface, and using an adjustable jump rope with a good turning mechanism are some of the keys to ensuring continuation.

Currently CrossFit Central (Austin, TX) operates eight CrossFit classes, two kettlebell classes, three corporate wellness programs, and ten boot camps in seven locations, coached by six CrossFit-certified trainers.

Two years ago, this wasn't the case. Then, I was just a young man in a new town with big dreams and one non- paying training client. In that two years, I have gone from training people for free to training hundreds of people, creating unique opportunities inside corporations, and making a living at training. How did I attract so many people to my boot camps? I based the CrossFit Central Boot Camp on a high school strength and conditioning program called PowerPlant.

I was first introduced to intense training in high school. I experienced power lifting, Olympic lifting, plyometric jumps, and sprints, with a few bodybuilding movements mixed in. Inside the weight room, our coach placed a trash can in all four corners and one strategically in the center of the room--just in case. This was called Off- Season Football.

The PowerPlant Summer Strength and Conditioning Program operates four days a week in the summer, combining strength and conditioning training with speed and agility work. Each day begins with a ten- minute warm-up and ends with a ten-minute cool- down. On a daily rotating basis, we do 45 minutes of lateral or 45 minutes of linear movements.

Andrew Astalos, an athlete at Motor City CrossFit, has recently astounded us with some of his performances in the world of speedskating. At 13 years of age, in the middle of Michigan's winter, he elected to skip his family's long- planned Caribbean vacation and instead travel to Lake Placid to compete in the U.S. National Long Track Speedskating Championships.

It's a good thing he did, because that weekend, he not only won the national championship in his age division, but he broke every single national record in his age class doing so. Then, to top it off, he traveled to Milwaukee the next weekend to compete in the North American Long Track Speedskating Championships, where he also won every race in his division and, based on his times, would have placed second in the next division up.

What makes these achievements even more incredible is the fact that Andrew is primarily a short track speedskater (think Apolo Anton Ohno), which is a very different type of racing than long track (think Dan Jansen, Bonnie Blair, etc.). And, given the fact that there are only two indoor and three outdoor ovals in the country (the closest of which is around a seven-hour drive from his home), Andrew rarely gets to practice his long track technique.

I don't dare take any of the credit for his successes (Andrew was a great athlete to begin with), but his parents have told me time and time again that they believe his CrossFit training is what made the breakthrough difference for him this year. One thing I can say for sure is that he's got a ton of explosive power now, and his endurance in the longer races has gotten many times better.

"How do I CrossFit regularly and not lose my specific fitness for an endurance event?" This is a question I've been asked probably no fewer than 100 times in the past few months. I believe it boils down, at least in part, to effective use of time trials in your training program. I and the long-distance athletes I train have been successfully implementing training programs that integrate CrossFit and sport-specific endurance work.

In each case, our times in our respective sports (running, rowing, cycling, swimming) have gotten faster. And our CrossFit times/numbers keep getting better too. A lot of people I've come in contact with in the last couple of months initially tell me that they think they have to choose to do either CrossFit or marathon/Ironman- specific training and cannot do both successfully. Well, I went on a 10-mile trail run a few weeks back on the same day I had a CrossFit Total lifting event. I ran well--not my fastest time on this course, but within 10 minutes. Then, within two hours, I set personal records on every lift (back squat, press, and deadlift) at the Total. This was a breakthrough day for me.

If you are training for a specific sport, you need to establish your goals for that sport. Are they attainable goals? Or are you like me and tend to set almost unattainable goals and then either hit or miss them, rather than set reachable ones that you can really commit to accomplishing?

In 2006 I was referred to to check out a workout called "Nasty Girls." At the time, I wasn't sure if I should open a video with that name in a public room. Well, what I found was probably more shocking than what I expected: a workout prescribing multiple rounds of fifty air squats backed up by "crazy" muscle-ups and power cleans, all done with strength, intensity, and perseverance by three truly remarkable women. Out of curiosity, I gave the program whirl and soon after found a renewed desire to improve my own fitness goals. As a national and collegiate competitive athlete in the hammer, discus, and indoor weight throw, I had been trained to be a specialist in the weight room. Running excessively, doing any "cardio" training, or performing any exercise over five reps was a big fat no (no surprise that I weighed 180 pounds). My long-held belief in what fitness was--bigger, stronger, faster--soon became blurry. (Hmm, or was that blur caused by the CrossFit workout I had just completed?)

The event
In this article I share some drills from one of the throwing events that I believe is the most dynamic and exciting to watch. The hammer throw is an athletic throwing contest where the object thrown is a heavy steel ball attached to a wire (with a maximum length of four feet) with a handle. The weight of outdoor competition hammers used today in the Olympics and nationally accredited (IAAF) track and field events are 4 kg (8.8 pounds) for women and 7.2 kg (16 pounds) for men.

You may have heard of the Pose method of running. But Pose is not specific to running. It is actually a method of movement that apples to other sports as well. Pose is about learning the fundamental "pose" position of your sport's movement pattern that allows you to harness the natural laws of energy and work with them with your own body and muscles. The key to this is understanding where your body weight is supported, and how forces such as gravity, ground reaction, torque, and buoyancy (in the case of swimming) affect your control of your own body weight as it moves through space (or the water).

Any movement will be more efficient and effective if the
muscles "service" where the body weight is going instead of just trying to propel the body. Movement and force go naturally in the direction of the body weight. If you throw a punch at someone but are falling backward, the punch will carry very little power or force. If your mass is falling in one direction, you must get control of your body weight before you can move in another direction. Here are few details of how all this applies to running, swimming, and cycling, the three components of triathlon.

The human psyche is a very powerful thing. This same psyche is responsible both for very limiting, self-defeating thoughts and also for strong, self-empowering thoughts that enable us to accomplish great things. For example, how many people believe they can run a marathon, 50 kilometers, or even 100px miles? How about squatting 500px pounds, or even 100px0 pounds? Can you do a 10K in less than 40 minutes? If your answer is, "I could never do any of those things," you should stop reading now. You just might not have the psychological freedom to understand this article.

I come from a power sports background where I excelled as a youth and teenager in short- course swimming and water polo. In my early twenties, I was into powerlifting, but I wrecked my back with a poorly done deadlift set, which didn't allow me to do anything for several months after. week in swimming, 100px+ miles in biking, and 30+ miles in running. I was doing zero strength training-- after all, I thought strength training had nothing to do with what I was doing. I was greatly mistaken! As it turned out, during the race I was passed by several rather obese individuals, who seemed by the looks of things to be very unfit. I was humbled, to say the least, but also motivated unlike any other time in my life.

I climbed up the ranks of the triathlon world shortly thereafter with the completion of an Olympic-distance race, and then a half-Ironman, but I didn't stop until I completed Ironman Canada. This was a great race, and I was thankful to finish. The training, however, was incredibly time-consuming because it was before I knew better so it was purely oxidative and overdone.

In my article in last month’s journal, I described our baseball team’s strength and conditioning training this past fall. This month, I will outline an entire year of our women’s basketball training, taking into account the demands and interruptions of student athletes’ schedules.

Before I delve into describing the team’s the training regimen, here’s a little background information. This off-season began on the heels of our first Big West Conference tournament championship and the team making it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. The best news is that we did this with mostly freshman, two sophomores, and two seniors. Way back in August 2005 I knew we had a special group that would one day be conference champions, even before I had ever seen most of them dribble a basketball. The crop of frosh that year were athletic, hardworking, and coachable. I knew our outstanding basketball coaches would be able to take these young women to the top.

Our trip to last year’s NCAA tournament was a short one, as we drew #1-seeded UNC in the opening round. We simply were unable to compete with their size, athleticism, and skill. The head coach came back and asked me if we could put 20 pounds on all the players so we could be more competitive the next year. I told him that 20 pounds of muscle would be essentially impossible for our team, but that 10 was an achievable goal.

In the past six months or so I’ve noticed more conversations about how having a solid strength and power base really drives top performances on the CrossFit storms (the named benchmark workouts, also known as “the girls”) and some discussion on what is the best balance between strength workouts and circuit-type work, etc. I first came across CrossFit about three years ago and immediately began implementing ideas I learned from Coach Glassman and others in the CrossFit community into my job as the head strength and conditioning coach at the University of California, Riverside. With the strength and power discussions heating up and the recent emergence of the CrossFit Total, I thought I’d share an example of how I have incorporated CrossFit in the training of the athletic teams here at UCR.

This article describes the training that we on the strength and conditioning staff did with the position players on our baseball team during the fall off-season. (Next month, I will discuss the specifics of how we used CrossFit in training the women’s basketball team.) The pitching coach is very conservative, so the pitchers do a separate program consisting mostly of squats, some plyometrics, and medicine ball work. I will say, though, that out of seventeen pitchers, thirteen back squatted 300 pounds or more, with seven guys squatting over 350 pounds.

This month, we will up the difficulty of our moves a bit and look into a few useful skills borrowed from BMX freestyle. While you might not need these skills directly when you are riding a trail, the improved bike control and confidence they impart will pay off. Also, they're just a lot of fun. Expect that these skills might take a little longer to master than some of the ones I've discussed in past months.

A manual is basically a standing, coasting wheelie. In fact, that is the distinction: if you pedal, it is a wheelie; if you coast, it is a manual. Besides greatly improving your balance and control on your bike, the manual, once perfected, can be used to ride more smoothly through rough terrain. You can also combine it with a bunny hop, hopping onto an object, landing on just the back wheel in a manual, and coasting across it and off without ever setting your front wheel down. Riders have even done manuals down handrails! and sizes of bikes to see the difference.

Last month, we looked at ways to get up onto some objects that you might find in your path. Now, it's time to come back down. We will be using some of the same techniques that we used to ascend the obstacles, and some more of the static skills from part 1 will come in to play as well.

Just as with getting onto objects, be sure to master these techniques from very low obstacles to start. A curb works well. You want to make sure that you have the skills down pat before attempting higher drops. Also, keep in mind that landing on hard surfaces is less forgiving than landing on softer ones. As you take these skills to higher or more unpredictable objects, you will crash now and then. Prepare yourself accordingly. Learn to bail when things go awry. Don't go down with a sinking ship! You'll usually know that you are in trouble the moment you drop.

Try not to ride over your head. If you are not feeling comfortable with a line or drop, it is best to wait until later when you have the skill or confidence. Freezing or panicking in the middle of a line is a sure recipe for disaster (see video). Stay as relaxed as possible.

In the first installment in this series on bike skills, last month, we looked at some static skills, where you mostly balanced in place. In practicing those movements, you will have learned to lift your bike airborne and also will have gained some control rocking the bike from wheel to wheel. Now it's time to use those new skills to do something a little more useful-- get up onto things.

Before we start, there are a few precautions. Though it should be obvious, you should start on small objects. Make sure that you have the technique mastered before you start trying these moves at any real height. Getting on top of objects does not present as much danger as getting off them, but things can still get ugly. Consider wearing shin guards. Make sure your bike is in good condition, especially your brakes, pedals, cranks, and chain. Depending on what objects you will be climbing and what type of terrain you are in, your tire pressure may need to be adjusted. If you are riding street obstacles with sharp edges, you will want higher tire pressure to avoid a pinch flat if you catch a wheel on an edge. If you are rolling onto rounded objects or riding natural off-road terrain, lower tire pressure will help grip the surface better. Fatter tires will help too.

The first several parts of this series on functional bike maneuvers will be directed toward anyone looking to improve their technical riding and will not be discipline-specific. Later installments will present strategies for improving riding performance for those already skilled on a bicycle.

In this series we will be looking at functional skills drawn from primarily from mountain biking, bicycle trials, and BMX freestyle. For our purposes, we’ll consider only the skills that help you navigate your environment smoothly and efficiently or that allow you to ride terrain that you otherwise couldn't. Hopping over a log or jumping down a set of stairs would be considered functional; doing a 360-degree spin in the process wouldn't. (This doesn't discount the value of learning skills such as a 360, as pushing your level of technical skill development will only improve your overall ability as a cyclist.

However, the 360 is not needed to clear the stairs, so it would be outside the scope of these articles.) Since this series won't be riding-style specific, we’ll be looking at functional skills that can be done on almost any kind of bike. Moves that require BMX bikes with axle pegs or trials bikes with bashguards won't be considered here. Basically, we will be borrowing the useful skills from across a range of biking styles.

My riding background is primarily in BMX, though I have competed in trials riding and done some mountain biking as well. My specialty has always been BMX flatland or ground riding. It is possibly the least functional of all the riding disciplines, but it does allow you to develop a very high level of balance and bike control.

Speed Development

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Sprinting is a skill. It is beautiful, violent, functional, and potentially destructive if conducted in an unsafe manner. It can bring glory to an athlete or be a factor in the survival and success of a warrior on the battlefield. At its simplest, it is a means of getting the body from one point to another in the shortest possible time, yet it is also a very complex, specialized motor skill that requires a high degree of coordination. Broken down into its fundamental components, it can be thought of as repetitive maximal force efforts; as such, it clearly exposes any muscular imbalances that exist in an athlete.

Single Speeds

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There are few subjects that match bicycles and bicycling for inspiring a broad range of interest, controversy, and passion. Physics, physiology, law, culture, sport, history, and engineering all come to play for the tribe of cyclists.

Invented in 1817 by Karl Drais Saverbronn, 46 years after the first car, the bicycle is a miracle of muscular and thermodynamic efficiency.

No means of locomotion, mechanical or animal, can match the thermodynamic efficiency of the bicycle.

Thermodynamic and muscular efficiency combine to make the bicycle peerless in producing long-term, high-

With the invention of the derailleur in 1889 the cyclist was then able to quickly change gearing on the fly and hold much of this efficiency over varied terrain, speed, and wind conditions.

Inside-Out Breathing

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One of the major differences between swimming and land-based sports is that breathing in the water is a skill, and a fairly advanced one at that. In recent weeks, since opening a new Swim Studio in New Paltz, NY, I’ve spent many hours teaching in an Endless Pool, where proximity to my students has allowed me to observe the extent to which breathing comfort is essential to their progress and success. This has convinced me that, until breathing becomes routine, effective focus on other aspects of the stroke is impossible. But once students master breathing, other skills follow much more rapidly.

Breathing is such a natural activity that we seldom give it a thought. The only time we even become conscious of it is when we’re breathless from exertion or, well, panic. Or, in the case of swimming, sometimes both at once.

Amanda Beard, Jason Lezak, Aaron Peirsol, Lenny
Krayzelburg. If you're remotely connected to the sport
of swimming you recognize these as the names of
Olympic champions. What you might not know is that
in a swim training culture that usually has swimmers
(who compete in events averaging two minutes) training
like marathon runners, these athletes were trained in a
manner that is pure CrossFit.

The mastermind behind the training center in Irvine, CA,
where this training takes place is Dr. David Salo, who was
named men's head coach at the World Championship
meet in Montreal, Canada, that just concluded on
July 31. For a guy who was almost blackballed from
the community for espousing his radical training ideas
twenty years ago, attaining this position today is quite
a feat!

Back in those days, when Salo was a graduate student in
exercise physiology at USC, his instincts as a swimmer
and student told him that swimmers of all distances
could swim faster on a fraction of the conventional
training volume if the intensity was high enough.

CrossFit to Go


Since January, I've been on thirty-nine flights. The madness started with a writing assignment to cover cat skiing in southern British Columbia: ten days. Three weeks later, I was called to hop a few planes to a Canadian mountain range called the Monashees for a backcountry skiing photo shoot for Mountain Hardwear with a few other athletes: nine days. Two weeks later, I left on a month-long assignment for National Geographic Adventure in northern Norway, where I retraced the steps of a WWII escapee on skis across Lapland, about ten degrees north of the Arctic Circle: twenty-nine days. Ten days at home, then I jetted to Nepal for a month to write dispatches for on Ed Viesturs's historic mountaineering ascent of Annapurna, making him the first American to climb all fourteen of the world's 8,000-meter peaks: thirty days. No rest for the weary, but I like it that way. I like to pack it all in; it feels more efficient that way, like I’m getting things done. Unfortunately, with that "efficiency" that I fiendishly suck energy to achieve, thirty-nine flights in no way augments my level of fitness. CrossFit does.

Kaizen Swimming

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How to improve continuously, no matter how long you swim.

After 39 years of purposeful swimming (as opposed to merely "doing laps") and 33 years of coaching and teaching, I consider myself fortunate to have achieved a rare distinction: I think I've become one of the best swimmers on earth. While that claim probably sounds staggeringly presumptuous, my definition of best-- unlike one that applies to, say, Michael Phelps--doesn't hinge on how fast I swim. Instead I mean that, among the billions in the human race, I think there are perhaps only a hundred or so swimmers on earth who use their available energy and power as efficiently as I do, who enjoy every stroke as fully, and who practice effectively enough to keep improving continuously.

It's that last definition of "best" that excites me most. There's a Japanese term kaizen, which means continuous improvement; specifically it denotes incremental improvement through cleverness, patience, and diligence. At age 54, I feel I am the embodiment of kaizen swimming. After 39 years of swimming, coaching and teaching, after over 15 million meters in the pool (I average about 500,000 meters per year), I'm still making regular advances in my control, efficiency, and ease. My 1500-meter time now is faster than when I was an 18- yearold college freshman in 1969.

The most strident objectors to the kipping pull-up advocated by CrossFit have been the kettlebell swingers. They despise our "sloppy" pullups. Other communities have been confused by kipping but are ultimately receptive to it after an explanation of our reasons. The reaction of the Kettlebell community has been to call us a cult.

I know how much they love swinging kettlebells, so here is my attempt to show that their flavor of Kool-Aid is really not that different from ours. The trajectories of the kettlebell swing, snatch, and clean are eerily similar to the trajectory of a kipping pull-up. Both use horizontal displacement to generate momentum along an arc that ultimately produces vertical displacement. In simpler terms, the backswing adds power to the movement. My grandpa had a good term for this motor recruitment pattern. He called it "the old heaveho."

Dragon Door's brochure claims, "Amazingly, the Russian kettlebell will make you good at many things you have not practiced. Gireviks report on our Strength Forum that they run faster, bend sixty-penny nails, bench or deadlift heavier, etc., just from lifting kettlebells. The only time they see the barbell, a nail, or running shoes is during the test!"

I put emphasis on the heavier deadlifts because it goes to show that the ballistic loading of kettlebell swings can improve your limit strength. If you look at Dragon Door's testimonial page, you will find no less than eight happy customers who report new personal records on the deadlift following a period of nothing but kettlebell work.

The world’s best swimmers move through the water with grace, economy, and flow, while novices are awkward, clumsy, and inefficient. But the rest of us can learn to swim well if we take the time to master swimming as an art before tackling it as a sport.

How many land-based athletes have concluded that swimming requires some exotic or elusive kind of fitness after an experience like this: Joe, who can breeze through a 5-mile jog without breaking a sweat, decides to try a pool workout one day. Within a few minutes, he’s panting for breath and wondering, “How will I ever get in a decent workout if I can’t even make 100 yards without dying?” Experiences like that convince many adult athletes that swimming is only for those who swam competitively as kids and leave them suspecting that the time and effort required to master swimming may not even be worth it.

But mastering the “swim challenge” is decidedly worthwhile. Not only is it ideal as a restorative, general fitness workout for virtually any aging athlete; learning to swim well also gives you the option to try triathlons or Masters swimming. And I’ve yet to meet an otherwise well-rounded athlete who could not learn to swim well enough to stay fit or tackle a triathlon. All they have to do is discard everything other aerobic activities such as running have taught them, as soon as they enter the pool.

How did you first become exposed to recovery and regeneration techniques?

My first focus on the recovery process was from my high school swim coach Peter Foley. He explained to us, the team, how to be a total athlete for 24 hours a day, not just 2. A total athlete was a person that organized their lifestyle to get a full night's sleep and not eat junk food. He understood the reality of the situation with student athletes not learning ways to juggle what I call the four S's. The four S's are Sleep, School, Sport, and Social.

If you distribute the hours among priorities of needs over wants, you can have it all in life. This process worked for me and I transformed myself from a neophyte to a part of three state championship swim teams. By just learning how to construct a foundation of principles and guidelines on doing the basics and being consistent, I could expand the individual basics and become more precise and more aggressive with modalities later. Don't build on quicksand by rushing to get into supplementation and soft tissue therapy.



Slacklining (slacking) is borrowed from the climbing population, where it’s often prescribed as active recovery after a hard day of mountaineering. A slackline is a lead of nylon webbing strung between two fixed objects. Upon looking at a slackline setup most people think “tightrope walking”. Actually it is quite the opposite. While a tightrope does not sway or move, a slackline does. Known to recoil, sway madly and bounce with every step or transition – it has been likened to surfing. These characteristics focus on movement, not musculature. Bringing focus to stabilization in the most destabilized environments. Think hula-hoop on crack. This simple device can help to improve coordination, agility, accuracy, concentration, and balance. I have personally seen a slackline humble the freakiest balance junkies.

Potency can be adjusted for all skill levels. Tension on the webbing can be varied to manipulate line response time – the looser the line the slower the feedback. We employed ski poles, human shoulders, and crash mats to get even the most balanced-challenged on the line. Baby steps are important. It is amazing to witness the smile on someone’s face when they discover that the line responds with bounce and recoil against weight transfer. They just keep coming back!


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Paleoanthropologists tell us that our ancestors left the trees for the ground millions of years ago. Competing hypotheses attribute this shift from a predominantly arboreal to terrestrial locomotion on postural-feeding, social- behavioral, or thermoregulatory pressures. In any case there is a strong consensus among scientists that our heritage is deeply rooted in both climbing and bipedalism, i.e., both swinging from the trees and functioning on two feet.While nearly all of our regular movements today are bipedal, the value to survival, fitness, and combat of climbing skills is critical and largely undeveloped even in "elite" athletes.

In this issue of CrossFit Journal we are offering some tools and techniques to remedy this imbalance of functional domains. In the broadest and most useful sense, the functional distinction between arboreal and terrestrial skills is that arboreal skills are rich in pulling movements whereas the bipedal movements mostly comprise hip extension and pushing movements.

As a consequence of this distinction and the dearth of climbing skills drawn upon in fitness programs, the pulling capacity of modern athletes is woefully deficient. Compare briefly the number of pushing to pulling movements available in the course of our normal training. Push-ups, dips, handstand push-ups, bench press, shoulder press, and jerks versus, what, pull-ups and maybe rope climb?




Just thought I would let you know about a little PT session we had. We played Hoover Ball with a 12lb TKO medicine ball, 5 players per side, 6 games to 10 points. It took 55 minutes and everyone was wiped out.


SSgt Frank Ollis

U.S. Marines

We found Hoover Ball when we were on the Internet looking for something more competitive and sporting for the medicine ball. It has a distinguished history , looked promising as a conditioning tool, and sounded fun so we suggested it on the WOD page and got the response above from Frank Ollis.

We know Frank well enough to know that if he thinks it's tough, it's tough.

The game is officially a game of catch played with a medicine ball under a volleyball net on a tennis court and with tennis scoring.


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