It’ s a critical error in my opinion to leverage observations of performance to solidify training dogma. Of course, there’s a fine line here. If one wanted to learn the in’s and out’s of cheerleading, for example, it would make a lot of sense to consult with the best cheerleader one could find.
The type of error I am talking about, however, occurs when individual performances are leveraged against superior methods. For example, justifying the role of wheat in a high performance diet by citing the fact that Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Bo Jackson consumed copious amounts of wheat based foods is invalid. Devaluing the role of strength and conditioning in Major League Baseball beacause the only weight Babe Ruth lifted were hot dogs and beers doesn’t follow either.
This begins to speak to potentiality. In my opinion, it is fully justified to question the efficacy of an athlete’s preparation even if they are the best in their sport of choice. Yes, even world champion’s can be better…
I recently saw a television spot on a training facility that required athletes to squat well above parallel. It was their opinion that “quarter squats” were enough to yield the performance they needed, and they shunned “ass to grass” squats as dangerous and inefficient. The fact that they exclusively train Olympic level runners doesn’t necessarily increase the value of a quarter squat over a full range of motion squat, for example. It’s my view that their runners are still worth every bit of praise they get, but that their squats could be better. Fair enough?
Kelly Starrett (Mobility WOD) and Brian Mackenzie (CrossFit Endurance) of CrossFit San Francisco often ruffle feathers when they point of areas of weakness in world champion level athletes’. Though painful to hear, potential for improvement is very real for us all.
I think it’s important then to separate the performance of athlete’s from a debate of efficacy long enough to see the truth. After all, there’s a whole lot more that goes into being a champion than preparation.