Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Are Athletes really Getting Faster, Stronger, Better?

By: Joel Luedke

Updated: 2/19/18

On my most recent trip to India I had the honor to speak at Symbiosis International School and the topic was on Sports Science and Technology.  The talk was a broad overview of what you might be able to do if you dove into the world of sports science.  The list is long and distinguished but it was great fun and challenge to really dive into what was out there and tested my own knowledge.  Long story short and we got to the question and answer part and someone asked me "are athletes really getting more 'athletic' or is technology making it appear that way?"  My first thought was to refer them to this specific talk but they stole my thunder and referred to the talk.  Now I was on the spot but as I thought about it, this is what I came up with.

Elite athleticism is to me elite athleticism.  Irregardless of the time period.  That helps explain how Jesse Owens could potentially compete for a gold medal against Usain Bolt if he were to run today and factor technology into it.  To me those are two "once in a lifetime " athletes that almost no matter what are going to do something incredible.  But where does that leave the rest of us.

While technology can make a huge difference I think we talk about "non-elite" athletes, the ones that may not be as genetically gifted that is where the training and technology can make a huge difference.  In the past we may not have been able to maximize these athletes potential because we didn't know how to train them differently from someone that might be more gifted.  I think that is where we are now and we can now get them to the highest levels of their ability which might have been just a dream before.  This could give the athlete that never formerly had a shot, the best chance to make it big.

This is still a great video and well worth checking out but don't throw everything out to the side just because it doesn't fit every case.

A very interesting talk on weather athletes are truly getting better and more fit/athletic and also what role technology in sports has done to help produce better athletes.  My personal favorite is the discussion on where Jesse Owens would have finished if he compared to Usain Bolt when he ran 9.77s in the 100m if Jesse Owens was allowed the same spike, block and track technology that Bolt had.  It was somewhat surprising to me that he would have been within one stride of the fastest man ever.  Quite the interesting thought.

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