I’ve studied bodyfat to try and see if there is much more I can learn from it for sports performance and while there are some things you can learn I find it varies for bang-for-buck effectiveness.
In Rugby at lower levels I think it may have some merit or as a baseline, but in elite or disciplined groups it may actually work against the player.
I sports like boxing, where I currently have an interesting project ongoing, it is certainly critical in the lower weight classes to know, so that you are maximising lean mass and power/weight ratios and even more important if you are going to try and change a boxers composition.
I feel it is also very useful for younger players when tied into food education to show them and reinforce positive changes as their bodyfat goes down. Of course we can be simplier too – The mirror never lies … and as a great Canadian sprint coach used say … “If it jiggles when you jump then it’s fat!”
Some players love to know their fat% and others are better not knowing. I think for me the biggest thing is that the player is happy … and for this reason if a player is lean and playing well I’d rather focus on that than the fact they may have gone up slightly .
The point about recovery at lower bodyfats is interesting – is it the calorie/food restriction to reach the lower %’s that effects recovery or food choice at that levels? Or is it simply an innate survival mechanism that is effecting recovery – it is interesting and something I will look at or keep an eye on.
Poliquins Biosiganture is very interesting and while I don’t agree with it all there are some aspects I found science does support. There are also some that science does not at all! This is actually what lead me to start to look at girths as well. I was interested in it originally to see if there was such a thing as spot reduction and after all the research and study I am not sure there is from a practical sense.
There are some interesting things in relation to spot reduction from an exercise point of view, as in – the part moved having lower bodyfat than others and also how some sports have different ‘site profiles’ than others – but as I said not much difference in team sports from my epxerince.
The example you give about throwers with more central and less peripheral bodyfat is also potentially interesting with respect to some hormones – but I need to look at some of the research in more detail to draw certain conclusions.
Again for someone like me who has yet to have the experience I love researching and watching these things! But like many coaches I guess I can see myself moving away from it as a practical tool in time apart for some sports like possibly boxing.
“If it jiggles when you jump then it’s fat!” !! … you gotta love it eh?