081 - is bigger, stronger or faster really better?

John Brenkus is the producer & director of ESPN's phenomenal show "Sports Science" where they've shot over 1,800 episodes with world-class athletes - putting their beast physical and mental abilities to the test to see what makes them so great and why...

He was asked recently what one of the most phenomenal findings they've found was - and I'll be brutally honest, this one fucking rocked my world... in hindsight though, it makes complete sense

Brenkus states that "the best of the best, in teams sports, aren't the biggest, the strongest, nor the fastest in their sport... and in fact, being big, strong and fast, if you look at it on a graph, is a DISADVANTAGE in many ways


He then goes on to illustrate this example by looking at some of the greatest Running Backs to ever grace the NFL in yards gained... Emmet Smith, Walter Peyton, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDanian Tomlinson...

All were less than 6ft and had an average weight of 95kg...
None of them were the fastest in the league, on their team, or at their own position on their own team

So why were they able to rack up so many yards? It comes down to science: F = M x A - force = mass x acceleration... so if you're bigger (i.e. more mass) and running faster (i.e. greater acceleration) you're going to produce more force...

But, there's another Newtonian Law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction - and therefore the more force you produce, the greater the force you take on impact

And the lesson is that just because your body type isn't a certain way or just because you feel like you might be at a disadvantage doesn't mean you are... it comes down to your work ethic, who you want to become, and how hard you're willing to work to get there

We all want to be the biggest, the fastest, the tallest, the best... but at what exactly

Brenkus loves the goldilocks zone - and he discovers that most of the greatest athlete's fall within this - including Michael Jordan... they have a little mix of everything and are big enough, strong enough and fast enough

They're not the tallest, or the strongest, the fastest nor the most explosive, but they have enough of each to do their job... they have balance, they're above average in everything and strive for excellence in them, but they're not the top of any area

You don't have to be the strongest, nor the faster or the biggest... and perhaps you're the perfect mix of everything that's just right... but you'll never know it unless you believe in yourself and try

Actionable Tips + Questions

  • Do I currently think that I need to be the best in everything or something in order to be great? If so, why? Where is this coming from?
Nick Maier