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-   -   Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems (http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=67772)

Justin McCallon 06-08-2011 01:06 PM

Easy Way to Better Test Fitness and Remove Judging Problems
 
I bought into CrossFit when I read the first journal article about Fitness. I like abstract debates theories and such. I thought CF did a great job of defining general fitness as WCABTAMD. I thought it was even cooler when CF decided to start having competitions to test the fittest, based on that definition.

They've come a long way and I applaud them for that. But they're not doing a very good job of testing fitness, which is their goal. My contentions are that:
(1) They don't actually test "work," and
(2) Their time and modal domains aren't that broad

To be clear, I think CF competitions are as good or better at testing fitness than any previous competition. The Decathlon is not as good. The "Toughest Cop Alive" competition may be the only other competition that rivals CrossFit. But, the idea of unknown events makes CrossFit better, in my opinion.

Work is defined as Force * Distance. The problem with CF is that some athletes do a lot more work than others. As an example, I believe Spencer Hendel is almost as tall as me, probably 6'3. Chris Spealler is, comparatively, about 5'3. If Spealler does a deadlift, his ROM is probably only about 70% (pure guess) of Spencer's. So, let's say that, as part of a WOD, they must both Deadlift 300lbs 10x.
Spencer must move the bar farther. This inherently takes longer. Even if he was just as tall in terms of pounds-per-inch, he must also move more weight (his own). AND, his body must be more efficient cardiovascularly, because there is more of him, just from his height alone, but also because he actually must do more work in moving the bar.

This does not happen in just about any real-world sport. Swimming, Track, Field, Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Rugby, Lacrosse, Wrestling, Tennis, Badmitton, Bowling, Rowing, and MMA. The only sports where Work is not the same for athletes of all heights are sports that require tons of judging. Gymnastics, ballet, dance, cheerleading. In swimming, short people don't get a shorter course. In football, short people don't score on the 50 yard line. In Lacrosse, short people don't get bigger goals.

The issue is that movements like deadlifts, push-ups, C&J, and pull-ups have a height-dependent ROM. So, taller athletes must lift the weights higher. Since work is relative to height, WCABTAMD is not really tested. The obvious solution is to eliminate height-dependent ROM events so as to actually test fitness. There are so many good movements that could be used instead: nearly anything involving throwing (for distance or height) or carrying or simply moving from point "A" to point "B" with any kind of obstacles or external objects (or moving from point A to as far as you can in a given amount of time, which could be like 2 seconds or 20 minutes). I understand that heavier athletes must do more work to run from point A to point B. But this is true in all sports.

A competition consisting of all these movements would also be a much more legitimate test of the "real world." Scaling a wall is more practical than doing a Ring Muscle-up.

The second, related issue, is that the Games have the same movements every time. Handstand push-ups, rowing, deadlifts, C&J, Kettlebell swings, pull-ups, box jumps. When half the events are made of those movements, and it each can be expected nearly every time, are you really testing broad modal domains? Moreover, when have we ever seen an event involving legitimate power? A throw for distance? A 100m sprint? A climb to the top of a high rope? A 50m heavy prowler push? Atlas stones? Or, what about something in the 40-70s time limit? Tire flips across a football field? 400m hurdles? What about a legitimate agility test? Cone drills?

There have been some good events in the past. I liked the Row / Hammer. I loved the "move a bunch of sandbags to the other end, here's a wheelbarrow," and the "run with a sandbag up a hill" was an awesome event as well. The final few events for individuals last year were great as well.

An huge added benefit about switching to real-world movements is that judging does not need to be a big part of the games. There has been so much frustration on the KB Swings and Thruster judging. A bunch of people got DQ'd for minor foot faults and strength was hardly tested. The judges had such differing standards for the KB Swings that AJ Moore got royally screwed over (albeit, I think Spencer is a total beast and anyone that is over 6' that made it through those workouts on the top did so by domination of the competition). It is legitimately hard to judge the movements that we are seeing. It's not hard to judge a race to the top of a rope.

Eric Montgomery 06-08-2011 01:24 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Tall people have an advantage on wallballs (less distance to throw the ball) and rope climbs (longer limbs mean fewer pulls to get to the top). Being tall and having longer arms (within reason) will also help on a throw-for-distance type event. There's a reason dominant pitchers and QBs tend to have above-average height.

Some events favor tall people, some favor short people...just like real life.

Games events have typically included a lot of "standard" movements but also plenty of ones that couldn't have been totally anticipated or replicated in prior training--stake driving, sandbag sprint, hill run (with the exact terrain, anyways), sandbag/wheelbarrow haul, ring HSPU, the series of obstacles on last year's final event, etc.

Judging will always be somewhat of a controversy given the subjective nature of some of the movements and the fact that the judges aren't professionals and don't have any centralized and standardized organization. There are still plenty of controversies even with judging/refereeing organizations that do have that level of oversight and training...look at all the complaints about NFL/NBA referees, Olympic judges on stuff like figure skating or gymnastics, etc.

Justin McCallon 06-08-2011 01:33 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Eric Montgomery (Post 945866)
Tall people have an advantage on wallballs (less distance to throw the ball)

Tall people actually do less work than short people in this, unless the ball must touch the ground between reps. I don't like this event because I think everyone should do the same amount of work.

Quote:

and rope climbs (longer limbs mean fewer pulls to get to the top).
This is different. On rope climbs, both tall and short people must move the same distance. Short people have shorter pulls and therefore can do them faster to make up the difference. The bottom line is that in a rope climb, the same work is done. It's not really about unfairness. It's about actually testing Work.

Quote:

Being tall and having longer arms (within reason) will also help on a throw-for-distance type event. There's a reason dominant pitchers and QBs tend to have above-average height.
This is correct. There's a reason that tall people do much better in nearly every sport in existence that is not tested by judges, as compared to CF... Even in soccer.

Quote:

Some events favor tall people, some favor short people...just like real life.
What real-life events/sports favor short people? There's less than you might think.

Quote:

Judging will always be somewhat of a controversy given the subjective nature of some of the movements and the fact that the judges aren't professionals and don't have any centralized and standardized organization. There are still plenty of controversies even with judging/refereeing organizations that do have that level of oversight and training...look at all the complaints about NFL/NBA referees, Olympic judges on stuff like figure skating or gymnastics, etc.
I don't see too many judging problems with ....
Running
Rowing
All field throwing events
All track events
Swimming
Strongman
Bobsledding
Skiing (for speed)
Lots of other Olympic events

Eric Montgomery 06-08-2011 02:00 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Justin McCallon (Post 945870)
Tall people actually do less work than short people in this, unless the ball must touch the ground between reps. I don't like this event because I think everyone should do the same amount of work.


This is different. On rope climbs, both tall and short people must move the same distance. Short people have shorter pulls and therefore can do them faster to make up the difference. The bottom line is that in a rope climb, the same work is done. It's not really about unfairness. It's about actually testing Work.


This is correct. There's a reason that tall people do much better in nearly every sport in existence that is not tested by judges, as compared to CF... Even in soccer.


What real-life events/sports favor short people? There's less than you might think.


I don't see too many judging problems with ....
Running
Rowing
All field throwing events
All track events
Swimming
Strongman
Bobsledding
Skiing (for speed)
Lots of other Olympic events

The problem is that with all your worries about height, you've forgotten about weight which matters just as much as vertical displacement in terms of determining work and power output. So to say that a rope climb involves the same amount work for any competitor, independent of height, is false unless everyone weighs the same. A competitor's height actually has no impact on how much work he does on a rope climb.

Now, for pretty much every other event, both height and weight will play a role because you can't only focus on the weight of the implement being lifted. A competitor's weight from the knees up would have to be factored into work calculations on a clean or thruster, his weight from the elbows down would have to be calculated into the work done on a pullup, etc. all in addition to whatever was the vertical displacement of full ROM.

Weight class sports (wrestling, PLing, OLing) tend to favor shorter people because they can pack more mass onto a smaller frame and get better leverage. I don't know much about soccer, but I've had several people who do tell me that being over 6' is a disadvantage with the ball because of the resulting lack of agility and quickness from being unable to turn your legs and feet over as quickly.

I agree with the ease of judging the events you listed at the bottom, but most of those favor a particular body type...i.e. bigger and stronger. I think CF is a bit more balanced in that some things will inherently favor big guys and some things will inherently favor smaller guys, just as some things will favor strong guys and some will favor bodyweight specialists with better conditioning.

Justin McCallon 06-08-2011 02:10 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Eric Montgomery (Post 945893)
The problem is that with all your worries about height, you've forgotten about weight which matters just as much as vertical displacement in terms of determining work and power output.

No, I was cognizant of weight and mentioned it in the original post twice. The thing is that you're always going to need to move your own body. That's a given. You're going to need to move your body around in every sport ever. But, the distance you move it, and the distance you move external objects, is what should matter. This is why it evens out -- tall people, if the same pounds per inch, will weigh more and need to do more work when moving their own body.

Quote:

Weight class sports (wrestling, PLing, OLing) tend to favor shorter people because they can pack more mass onto a smaller frame and get better leverage.
So, this is kinda a misconception. Wrestling and MMA and Boxing, etc. do not favor shorter people. If they ever had an open division, it would be won by the heavyweight champion almost every time, and usually that is a large, tall fighter. I don't think anyone thinks Frank Edgar stands a chance against Brock Lesnar...

Quote:

I don't know much about soccer, but I've had several people who do tell me that being over 6' is a disadvantage with the ball because of the resulting lack of agility and quickness from being unable to turn your legs and feet over as quickly.
Agility events would be a good way, indeed, to test fitness and still let short people have a chance. I think the median height for a World Class soccer player is 5'11. In CF last year, I think the median height was like 5'9. And soccer is about as short-person favoring as any sport.

Quote:

I agree with the ease of judging the events you listed at the bottom, but most of those favor a particular body type...i.e. bigger and stronger.
Yes, real world sports favor bigger, stronger people. Because they generally have higher fitness levels.

Quote:

I think CF is a bit more balanced in that some things will inherently favor big guys and some things will inherently favor smaller guys, just as some things will favor strong guys and some will favor bodyweight specialists with better conditioning.
Just for the record, in the Regionals, there were about 20 different movements. About 2 favored taller people (box jumps, rowing). The rest favor shorter people or are even (I count DL as even because tall people get good leverage but need to move the weight further).

Christopher G. Woods 06-08-2011 02:14 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Eric Montgomery (Post 945866)
Judging will always be somewhat of a controversy given the subjective nature of some of the movements and the fact that the judges aren't professionals and don't have any centralized and standardized organization. There are still plenty of controversies even with judging/refereeing organizations that do have that level of oversight and training...look at all the complaints about NFL/NBA referees, Olympic judges on stuff like figure skating or gymnastics, etc.

I think the big problem that is being encountered with judging in CrossFit competitions is a classic case of "too many cooks in the kitchen".

In every other sport or competition (at least any I can think of), all athletes or competitors are judged or officiated by the same set(s) of eyes. In team sports, both teams are subject to the same group of referees or umpires; in gymnastics, weightlifting, diving, etc., all competitors are subject to the same judges. There might be some variance in the enforcement of standards between different groups of officials, but the variance will be consistent within a single event since there is only one group of officials for that match, game, etc.

In CrossFit competitions, if you have 10 athletes or teams competing in a single heat, then you have 10 different judges or groups of judges, and 10 possible variances in the enforcement of standards. It's like playing in a baseball game where you have a different umpire calling balls and strikes for each team, or even each batter.

Obviously, the sport of CrossFit is still very young, and we should expect these kinds of problems. Inconsistency in enforcement of standards has been an issue, at least to some extent, in every CrossFit competition that I've been in, dating back to the 2008 Games.

There are two major steps that need to be taken to resolve this situation. The first is the institutionalization of movement standards for all of the major movements used in CrossFit competitions. It seems like every year there is some new or different variation on the standards of almost every movement. This is confusing to athletes and judges alike. The second step is the training and certification of officials for sanctioned events. This standard can be taken for granted in every other sport, that everyone knows the rules and that the officials know well and clear how to enforce them properly. Until something of this nature is put in place, we will continue to see these problems in CrossFit competitions.

Katherine Derbyshire 06-08-2011 02:51 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Justin McCallon (Post 945902)
Yes, real world sports favor bigger, stronger people. Because they generally have higher fitness levels.

Really? How do you figure that?

Any sport involving collisions -- rugby, hockey, American football, combat sports -- will favor bigger stronger people because of their ability to absorb collisions. Saying that makes them "more fit" makes about as much sense as saying that a Hummer is a better car than a Porsche.

Don't we have this debate every year?

Katherine

Justin McCallon 06-08-2011 02:58 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire (Post 945924)
Really? How do you figure that?

Any sport involving collisions -- rugby, hockey, American football, combat sports -- will favor bigger stronger people because of their ability to absorb collisions. Saying that makes them "more fit" makes about as much sense as saying that a Hummer is a better car than a Porsche.

Don't we have this debate every year?

Katherine

Collisions are part of modal domains...


Tennis
Volleball
Swimming
Field events
Soccer

No, or very few, collisions in those sports.

Katherine Derbyshire 06-08-2011 06:58 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Justin McCallon (Post 945926)
Collisions are part of modal domains...

Ram a 400 lb. fat guy into a 180 lb Crossfitter and see who wins. But who is more fit?

Quote:

Tennis
Volleball
Swimming
Field events
Soccer

No, or very few, collisions in those sports.
Height is an obvious advantage in
swimming and running -- more distance per stroke/stride
jumping
volleyball -- height of net

Not all of those events favor "bigger, stronger" people, though. Except for throwers, most track and field athletes are much leaner than, say, football players. Swimmers and distance runners are downright emaciated. Soccer athletes also tend to be on the lean and wiry side.

Katherine

Justin McCallon 06-08-2011 07:14 PM

Re: Testing Fitness and Removing Judging Problems
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire (Post 945988)
Ram a 400 lb. fat guy into a 180 lb Crossfitter and see who wins. But who is more fit?

Collisions are part of broad modal domains. There are a lot of "real life" activities that involve using one's weight and/or absorbing force. There are also a lot of sports. Collisions are most certainly not part of every modal domain and I never implied that they were.

Quote:

Height is an obvious advantage in . . .
Yes, yes I know. Height is an advantage in just about every "real life" sport that is not decided by judges.

My point wasn't really that 250+ lb people are the most fit people in the world. My point was that 5'7 people do not have higher levels of fitness than 6'2 people, despite the fact that CF would seem to suggest they do. That in mind, in most sports that do involve broad time and modal domains, muscular people fare better than emaciated people.

Again, make everyone move the same distance and you are testing actual Work.


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