A Scientific Competition
The Cal State Fullerton Sports Science Department recently chose an elite group of athletes to run a battery of tests ranging from mobility, strength and endurance to lung capacity, power, and explosion. I was lucky enough to be a part of this testing group and so were a few friends of mine. Naturally we turned this scientific testing into a competition.
The field of competion included:
Dr. Andy Galpin and his Sports Science staff at Cal State Fullerton were nice enough to volunteer their time and expertise to pinpoint both our strengths and weaknesses and help us design our training around this information. As a professional athlete, it’s incredibly important to be constantly searching for an edge over the competition no matter how slight. The edge that Dr. Galpin has given us is enormous, and he is now a permanent fixture in my training.
In MMA, people often talk of trainers or skills needed to compete at the highest level such as wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, or Jiu Jitsu. Occasionally people will include the mental side of training when speaking of these skills, which I believe to be very important, but you rarely hear anyone talk about science. After completing a day of tests by Dr. Galpin and his staff and receiving a 51 page report based on the results, its hard to imagine a list of skills for any professional athlete that doesn’t include Sports Science somewhere near the top.
The data collected from this intense battery of tests is all “Top Secret” but I’ve decided to follow the example set by Edward Snowden and leak the most pertinent information. This may be embarrassing to the other test subjects involved in the study but my hope is that this motivates them to improve. Public humiliation is an effective form of motivation!
In return for all of Dr. Galpin’s hard work we agreed to participate in a study he was conducting on a product called Radius Wraps. In any sport where the hand or fist is used to strike an opponent it is very important to protect yourself. The most common way to protect the small bones in the hand is to tightly wrap your knuckles and hands and then wear some type of padded glove. For years “hand wraps” have consisted of a long piece of fabric that is wrapped around the knuckles, hands and wrists.
Radius Wraps use this method, but add an extra layer of protection: a foam roll is inserted into a built-in pocket in the wrap and then placed over the knuckles. I was very interested to see how this new wrap would feel because I always have problems with my knuckles and hands from the amount of striking we do during training. Radius Wraps claimed to provide more protection than that of a normal hand wrap and it was our job to test this claim.
Using a few of Dr. Galpin’s scientific devices we set out to find if Radius Wraps were in fact safer than normal hand wraps. Since Dr. Galpin plans on publishing this study in a scientific journal I have to stop here. However, I will say that since I’ve started using Radius Wraps I haven’t had a single hand issue during training and I would never consider going back to the old way wrapping my hands. I’m pretty excited to see the final results of the study and it’s conclusions about how effective Radius Wraps really are.
One of the scientific devices we used to test the Radius Wraps was called a “Strikemate”. The Strikemate tested how much force we could produce in each punch we threw. This proved to be another way for us to compete against each other.
As you can see, the results of this particular test weren’t quite so one-sided. As I mentioned before, public humiliation is the best form of motivation, but when you break a man down you must also build him up. I’m not saying I didn’t give 100% for these tests, I’m just saying sometimes winning a competition isn’t worth shattering your friends’ hopes and dreams and driving them into a downward-spiral of depression. The keyword there is “sometimes” (sorry Dennis).
Competition runs pretty heavily in our blood, but at the end of our day of scientific testing, the most important thing was the gathering information and eventually using it to take steps towards improvement. As Dr. Galpin says, “This 51 page report of information is great, but if you don’t use it to get better then you might as well use it for kindling. So the results of our friendly competition aren’t the results that really matter.”
That may be the case, but it still feels pretty good to take home the gold!