If the phrase pound-for-pound (PFP or P4P) sounds familiar to you, you must know a thing or two about boxing. The phrase pound-for-pound caught on with boxers like Benny Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Sugar Ray for most of his boxing career measured just under 6 feet tall weighing 160 pounds. His size didn't curb an illustrious year, as he went on to win 173 out of 200 fights, with 108 knock outs. Many wondered if it weren't for his size, would he be the greatest boxer of all time?
For a sport like boxing, the reasons for judging athletes PFP seem painstakingly obvious. The sport involves such brute force that weight must be a huge determinant of success. So it makes sense to separate boxers into weight-classes and simply judge them on a PFP scale. In doing so, boxing has made incredible strides to level the playing field.
With the rise of mixed martial arts or MMA, the PFP criteria naturally found a second home. In December 2013, Ronda Rousey cracked the top 10 list for the PFP best MMA fighters, begging the question of whether gender had been properly taken into account. Perhaps women boxers were being left off the PFP boxing rankings for decades without acknowledgement. And why stop there? What about height? And age? How impressive was Satchel Paige playing ball until he was 15 days from turning 60? If Brady can becomes the oldest quarterback of all time to win a Superbowl, how significant would that be?
Answers to these questions would make for great story lines, but the stories we want to tell are about the everyday athlete? How does the 45-year-old triathlete stack up athletically to the 18-year-old captain of the high school football team? How does that 18-year-old stack up to all other 18-year-old linebackers across the country? How does a specific combination of age, height and weight affect your muscular endurance? Does reaching a certain weight cause a diminishing return in power that would negatively affect your standing broad jump and therefore your explosiveness?
These were a few of the basic questions that we set out to answer when beginning the first iteration of our algorithm that would power our PFP scoring. We took our raw understanding of athleticism and fitness and put our assumptions to work, scavenging through as much data as we could find. NBA and NFL Combine results, High School track meet scores, and literally anything else we could get our hands on. We wanted to remove our biases and let the data inform our judgments. We wanted to put aside where you are from, how much money you have, and how you look to let performance speak for itself.
In order to do that, we needed to define "athleticism" at its core. With the direction of Dan Daly, our Head of Training, we agreed (not without some fights) on our four core pillars of athleticism: strength, power, quickness and endurance, each with a very specific definition. We then picked out fitness tests that we felt were indicative of athleticism and fit into one of our core pillars. We took as much data as we could on those different tests to train our algorithm to properly judge an athlete's PFP strength, power, quickness, and endurance.
While the result was incredibly exciting for our team, we recognize that this is just the start. Our algorithm and our PFP scoring is a living breathing organism. Remember, our mission is to standardize athletic performance so we can better inform training. We want our athletes to improve, whatever your goal may be. It could be to make a JV team, run a triathlon, or just increase your endurance compared to other 40-year-olds in the country.
We want Athlete Training Club to be the home for ALL athletes.
Now it's time to step up to the weekly fitness challenges! Get scored PFP and together we can level the playing field in athletic assessment.
- Andrew Starker, Co-Founder