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The “Fittest 4” not the “4 Fittest”. Why the year of the “SuperTeam” was irrelevant.

August 7, 2019 by
Photo Credit: Patrick Clark // Athletes Eye
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Now there will be super teams from all over the world that will dethrone the Champs! This could be the first time someone beats the Mayhem since the Wasatch Brutes!

Yeah, well….that didn’t work out.

Mayhem didn’t even win the Rogue Classic.

Yeah, well that wasn’t a complete test.

With all the skepticism on the 2019 season and a lot of chatter about how teams would challenge the Mayhem this year, I want to address some key components that may have been overlooked. If you want to have success as a team or be able to contest for more than 2nd place maybe read on.

Here is what it takes to even get close, but good luck.

  1. Leadership. There must be an obvious leader of the squad. They don’t need to be overly vocal, they don’t need to be a former Games Champ. But they do have to have “it”. Meaning that if that person were to walk through a fire, you’d be willing to follow them, and do so with no proper explanation. That is why it is called “it”. The attitude and presence of this person is who the team becomes. If they are a winner, the team becomes “winners”. I don’t mean that in a literal sense but I do mean that from a mindset perspective. Half the teams in the field didn’t show this if it existed. Ideally your leader should be someone that I’d be slightly worried to come across in a dark ally at night, that also helps.
  2. Roster purpose. This is WAY too overlooked. People just pick other athletes who do well in the Open or do well over time in the sport of fitness. This IS NOT HOW YOU WIN THE GAMES ON A TEAM. You have to bring four people together with REASON. Look at Mayhem, look at their balance this year. Rich has strengths that Dre doesn’t and vice versa and Tasia has strengths that Chyna doesn’t and vice versa. You see it in performance but also body type. Even the switch to Chyna from Kristin Miller made Mayhem better on many fronts. Not because Kristin isn’t fit, but because Chyna brought something SO different to the team than she did from a capacity standpoint. Kristin could be very valuable on any team, but only alongside the right woman. Keeping this in mind, plus the team appropriately training their individual weakness’s all year, leaves them very very hard to beat in a well-rounded test like the CrossFit Games. As long as Dave has reigns over the programming we know it will be a well-rounded “no holes” test.
  3. “General Capacity” as priority. Yes you need skills, those can’t be overlooked. However, you need Clydesdales (Rich creates this through their style of training all year long). You need athletes who run close to a 5:00 mile and have close to a 500 pound back squat (for men). These qualities are what carry you through events when the sled comes out, and of course when the worm is included. Keeping the big goal in mind as winning the Games you must build a very large engine (Chris Hinshaw is a good guy to learn from and have in your corner) in each athlete to be prepared for long runs and swims. In these specific instances you are only as strong as your weakness so no one can be lacking there. And while strength is important teams with the greatest 1RM aren’t a threat. That kind of strength often has too much a compromise on their ability to swim, run, and move quickly in general. Again, when looking at the test, keep its breadth in mind. One event with a max lift is a small portion of the overall outcome. I’d suggest teams look for athletes that have a greater ability to move moderately heavy loads very well over time than those who have the strongest 1RMs, especially in the snatch and clean and jerk.
  4. Gymnasty ladies. This is where most teams had the right intent this year. But due to the field all being pretty prepared here it made it less relevant. Just know that you need all-stars on the female side. You must focus on pushing each individuals max set of both strict gymnastics and kipping gymnastics as high as possible so in the heat of competition you can break less or at least break differently than the other teams
  5. Team sports. If you don’t have a team made up of folks who have previously played team sports you will be fighting an uphill battle. If this is the case you can’t simply get together three to four times a year to train for a week and expect to win. The ability to suffer for others and die for your teammates has to be “who you are” in order to win. That can be learned but you have to get experience in winning and losing together in order to do that. If your team has that as a competitive background it takes less time to learn on the field of competition at the Games.
  6. Train together. I do believe consistency in training together, seeing body language, facial expressions is all a HUGE factor. If you think you can get together only a few times a year a dominate the fittest team on earth you are mistaken. This is another reason the margin for victory was so far gone this year. No, Chyna isn’t in Cookeville full time, but the rest of their team is, and she made sacrifices to be there quite often I’d assume. They also had a great sub in Haley Adams (#thegirlonfire) whom has a similar fitness profile as Chyna and body stature. Training together creates a presence you see, and a swagger on the field that only Mayhem exhibited this year. They knew how each of them would perform at any given movement, who would take lead in which events and who would follow. This happens from lots and lots of group fitness TOGETHER.

If some teams comeback with the same roster next year they may have a chance to tighten the race. Mayhem will have to reload a male and that won’t be an easy task. I’ve seen Rich compete with a few different combos of men and Dre complimented him very well. But as we’ve seen in the past, in Cookeville it is a simple “next man up” mentality and they continue to improve and adapt on each change.

So what will come next year? New teams? Same teams? I don’t have a clue. But I feel strongly that if you hope to compete on the floor for more than second place you should strongly consider the six points above. And even when you dial them all in perfectly, or think you do, the Mayhem may still find a way to keep the cup. It’s getting pretty comfy in Cookeville, you’ve got to be special to pull it away.

All simply personal perspective and opinion. Here’s to 2020. Good luck folks. And remember the test is to find the “Fittest 4” not the “4 Fittest individuals”.

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