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Fitness Testing: what are the relevant options?

fitness testing sprint fatigue test t test timed mile vertical Nov 13, 2010

Here is a list of the fitness tests I'll be using to measure my progress this year:

  1. timed mile
  2. 30 m sprint fatigue test
  3. t test
  4. 40 yard sprint time
  5. 300 meter sprint time
  6. standing vertical

This is my rationale for each test:

timed mile:  The main reason for doing this test is because it's easy to do.  I am not convinced that a players mile time is really relevant to ultimate performance.  This is the least applicable of the test that I'm using.  The advantages of this test are that it is easy to administer and there is plenty of data out there for comparison.  Many other players will know their mile time.  Still, the most important comparison is to yourself over the long term.

30 m sprint fatigue test:  I believe that this is the most applicable test I'm doing.  This test measures how well you can execute a maximal sprint, including a change of direction, under conditions of fatigue.  This test is especially applicable to performance in long points.  The drawbacks of this test are that you have to set up a course and you need at least one other person to help you administer the test.  Test results will be influenced by the quality of the surface on which the test is done.  Soft ground may produce different results than hard ground.  I will be performing this test on grass in cleats.  Reproducibility may be an issue.  Still, long term comparisons should indicate improvements in power endurance.

t test: This is a standard test for agility.  The motions aren't exactly like those used on the field so this test may be only moderately relevant.  Advantages are that this test is very easy to set up.   Like the sprint endurance test, results may be influenced by the ground quality.  Also, because the test is short in duration, it may be difficult to know the significance of, or measure small changes in times.

40 meter sprint time: Most of ultimate does not occur in straight lines.  Still this test is a good measure of acceleration and top speed.  Also, this is a common test so results can be compared to other players or known norms.

300 meter sprint time:  This test also provides a measure of power endurance.  This is not a fun test.

standing vertical: a good measure of power production.  Also the standing vertical is easy to do and easily compared to known norms.

Final thoughts on fitness testing

1.  Purpose

Before you engage in fitness testing, give some thought to the purpose of your testing.  Some of the tests I have chosen above I might not do if I weren't publicly sharing my results.  For instance, the times mile I don't think is extremely applicable to ultimate.  However, I think others might be interested in my time and how that does or does not improve with interval training.  Furthermore, even if my times mile is embarrassingly slow, this is further evidence of my belief that steady state endurance is not applicable to handler performance.   What aspect of your movement or fitness are you trying to improve?  Find a test which accurately and reliably measured that aspect.

2.  Evaluation

The most important comparisons in fitness testing are comparing your results with tour own prior results.  When used properly, fitness testing can give you clues into how well your training programs are working.  Keep in mind that fitness testing is only a tool.  It can help you to evaluate your conditioning program.  However, you must rely on common sense and experience as well as test results.  Not all components of fitness will be improving at all points in the year.  Think long term about your fitness test results.  Remember that fitness test results can be easily influenced by many variables.  How much sleep did the athlete get this week?  How recently did they eat?  How much carbohydrate have they ingested?  Is there residual fatigue from earlier training sessions?  Don't let one bad fitness test discourage you from completing your current plan.  Sometimes the true meaning of your fitness tests will only be revealed over time.

3.  Ease of Use

Use tests you can easily do.  Think about your available resources.  If you do not live near an accessible track, there are some tests that will be difficult to perform.  Will you be doing the test yourself, with a partner, or are you testing a team of athletes?  These are all important factors to consider.  If you cannot do a test somewhat regularly (every 6-8 weeks) under the same conditions, then that test will not give you reliable information.  It is better to have no information that misleading information.  Choose your tests wisely!

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