Coach Jonathan Edwards addresses CrossFit, and describes how young athletes may end up doing more harm than good if it is applied the wrong way. Coach Edwards describes how CrossFit can sometimes be used as a business model rather than a way to help athletes progress one-on-one, and how dangerous this can be for kids who are still full of weaknesses and lack strength and flexibility.

0:43 – A lack of strength and flexibility can cause serious injuries to an athlete.
1:33 – If you go into CrossFit and apply it the wrong way, it can be dangerous.
2:19 – Sometimes CrossFit is just a business model to make money, not to help an athlete’s progression.
3:23 – Young athletes often lack the flexibility and strength to get anything good from CrossFit.
5:02 – Helping kids get stronger can empower them and even help them excel academically.


Coach Edwards here with and, and I got another question today. This one’s from Philip in upstate New York.

Dear Coach Edwards,

Thanks so much for all you do for the lacrosse community, for us parents of lacrosse goalies. It sure is hard to find credible information out there. I tell every coach I know about your site.

Philip, thanks a lot, I appreciate that.

I have two goalies, a son and a daughter. They are both in junior high school and will be in high school next year. We’re looking for some strength and conditioning for them in the offseason. There’s a CrossFit gym really close to home, and I was wondering what you thought about CrossFit for young athletes.

Thanks a lot,

Philip in Upstate New York

Lack Of Strength And Flexibility Causes Injuries

Philip, this is a great question. You may or may not know it, but I ran a strength and conditioning business a number of years ago where I trained basically young athletes, usually from about 14 to, the oldest athlete I had at the time was 21. My specialty, a lot of athletes came to me referred by physical therapists because I had a niche where I was really good at teaching technique and understanding flexibility.

Usually the things that got this athlete injured in the first place was lack of flexibility, lack of strength, things along those lines. So I come at this from a pretty unique angle. From my Olympic training background, I was able to work with a lot of amazing strength and conditioning coaches. I also worked with some crappy ones.

Applying CrossFit The Wrong Way Can Be Dangerous

So here’s my deal on CrossFit. For full disclosure, I’ve done CrossFit a little bit. Not a ton. I want to like CrossFit. I want to. However, there are some major issues with CrossFit, and I’m going to try to do my best to preface this as much as possible so that you understand where I’m coming from.

CrossFit in and of itself is not dangerous. However, it’s how it’s applied that can be wrong for the athlete who is doing it. While I would like to tell you a very simple yes or no answer, “Hey yeah, take your kids, go sign them up at the CrossFit gym so that they’re working on something,” I say yes, but the problem with CrossFit is that there’s no progression.

CrossFit As A Business Model

I could go into a long, detailed argument about this so I’ll spare most of the details here. There are some CrossFit gyms that are run by very reputable strength and conditioning coaches who have a solid strength and conditioning background, but they have a CrossFit gym as part of their business model to appeal to a larger spectrum of the population who just like CrossFit.

I like the team environment of CrossFit. It’s not really a team but it’s all these people training next to each other, and that can be pretty inspiring. But for young athletes or for weaker athletes, it can be harmful. If your athletes have never done anything and you’re just looking for something to do, I wouldn’t necessarily say CrossFit is the best choice. I would really appreciate if they went to a reputable strength and conditioning coach, and you might have to drive a bit to get there, but you’re going to find that your athletes get a little bit more one-on-one.

Young Athletes Are Inflexible And Full Of Weaknesses

It always shocks me at junior high school and high school how inflexible athletes are and how they usually have major weaknesses somewhere. A lot of it comes from just sitting around, sitting at the desk, sitting there playing Xbox, whatever. So I want to like CrossFit and I want to say “Go,” and I’ve gone, however, there’s no progression, which means you’re not going and you’re lifting a 10 lb weight this week. You’re going to a 20 lb weight in a couple weeks…

I’m exaggerating, but that’s what you want to see happen. It’s kind of like, “We’re going to get you in there and we’re going to do Olympic lifts for sets of 10 and some sets of 20, and we’re going to do that 5 times.” Olympic lifting is great. However, most of us that have experience with Olympic lifting would say doing high repetitions of Olympic lifts is ill-advised and there’s a lot of people that would argue with that.

If You Can Already Withstand Full Squats, CrossFit May Be Okay

In terms of general physical preparedness, CrossFit can be great if you have the strength and the physical ability to withstand doing full squats, and most people can’t, or doing overhead snatch. A lot of people can’t do that, they don’t have the flexibility in their shoulders. I’d rather see you find an Olympic lifting gym where you’re going to get taught by somebody who has got experience to teach you how to squat. Power lifters who are well-versed in squatting technique can teach your young athlete how to squat and do things successfully.

A Great Way To Empower Young Lacrosse Goalies

I will say this. Just getting stronger, the act of getting a young athlete, especially a junior high school athlete, getting them stronger is so empowering. Not just for lacrosse, but just in life. You take a junior high school kid and you get them stronger and they walk down the hall in school with more poise and they’re more confident. I’ve seen athletes who get stronger physically do better in school academically. Just because they’re more empowered about what they do and who they are, and that’s really cool.

Long Story Short – CrossFit Is Probably a Big No

In terms of CrossFit, my short answer would be no, unless it was taught by a reputable strength and conditioning coach who would give your athlete progression. Usually and exercise by itself is not bad. I will say this. An exercise by itself is not bad. It’s who performs that exercise and when. Are they ready for it, do they have the flexibility for it, do they have the strength for it?

CrossFit, I’m leaning more, obviously you can hear it in my voice, towards no than yes. So go seek out somebody reputable. If there’s a university around you there’s usually a football strength and conditioning coach that you can go find who can help your young athlete, and sometimes gyms have a really good personal trainer that is smart, and that’s rare but it’s out there.


I appreciate the question Philip in Upstate New York. I wish your kids the best, let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with. For all those Lacrosse Goalie University members, I do have a bit of a strength and conditioning component in Lacrosse Goalie University if you’re interested. Philip, good luck with that and I’ll talk to you real soon.

Get on I appreciate the question. Look forward to your questions. You can email me at or leave me a message in the contact form on the site.  I’ll talk to you real soon. Cheers.


Recommended Resource

The Lacrosse Goalie’s Guide To Visualization Audiobook

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