Fitness Is In The Air

Fitness Is In The Air

july 25 2015

It’s a wonderful time of year for the sport enthusiast.

Wimbledon, Pan Am Games, Women’s Football World Cup, Tour De France….and the CrossFit Games.

Within each sport, there are “bodies” and the differences in the physical statures of varying athlete is vast, depending on the sport’s demands.

For instance, it is well known that the climbers for these hills pictured above in France are not large individuals. On game day, Romain Bardet is 65 kg (143 lbs.) at 6’1”. These cats are impressive for the work done for the periods of time required over many days.

Doping or not, this sport is inspiring.

A quick look at the top 6 male and females for the sandbag event for the CrossFit Games reveals some interesting points about size as well:

The top 6 males are on average – 182 cm tall, the bottom 6 males are on average 172 cm tall.

The top 6 females are on average – 169 cm tall, the bottom 6 females are on average 157 cm tall.

We have seen this discrepancy before in the Day 1 Games testing years back when there was direct correlates to height and body weight and individuals placing high in the row marathon.

There is of course many strategic pieces involved in winning, competing, and executing. But, in the end, there is reality as well.

It is simply called physics – the study of matter.

When designing fitness tests, as I have MANY times mentioned, you need a few things:

  1. Your definition of fitness to be seen in the test
  2. A main theme throughout all tests that you want the participants to display (like running is for the decathlon)
  3. Knowing the audience that are doing the tests really well
  4. TESTING the tests to determine dose response, highs and lows of scoring, expectations, etc.

Once these are well thought out and achieved, then you can have all participants competing against one another and not relying on luck or height to determine scoring; Instead they rely on measures of will, grit, determination and hard work.

It’s not often in other sports where strategy, specifically around how to overcome obvious physical limitations or advantages, is needed besides CrossFit.

In most sporting events, the athletes participate because they pretty much all look the same.

So from the perspective of approaching CrossFit strategy, as either an athlete, a coach or organization, here are a few takeaways I’ve experienced:

Athlete perspective:

– It is what it is. Use strategy and execute to the best you can to get the best result you can if the anthropometrics work against you.

– Having false expectations in these situations creates an uneasy feeling once reality sets in.

– Use hard work and perseverance if the workout benefits due to your size.

– Have an attack mentality to climb the score board.

Coach perspective:

– Know the athlete’s background and scoring against others when the size factor comes into play (this helps in organizing how the athlete “feels” about these situations)

– Create a specific strategy that is clear and concise (and reminders about that strategy)

– Remove all perceptions for the athlete about how everyone else is doing

– Be honest in the expectations, but create a space for full effort

Organization perspective:

– Analyze tests before implementation. As a one-time scientist, I know there ARE ways of beta and proof of concept testing that can be done without all participants knowing the tests

– Create an opportunity in the tests where you want a specific skill tested, that removes the luck or anthropometric factor when this is clearly required.

– Allow enough planning and creative time where logistics do not get in the way of the tests (i.e. weather, size of area, time)

Final thoughts? As an observer, keep a keen eye out for the variations in people once you watch them compete in a sport. Do the research and realize what I have for a long time now: Reality AND numbers can play an important role in allowing athletes to express themselves.

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