Fitness testing

Every coach would like to assess the fitness level of his players, you can of course look at their play, does it fall apart in the last 15 minutes, or put players through a test program. Here is an overview of fitness tests and how they relate to each other.


When subjecting your players to any test, take care of the following:

  • Reproducibility: do not simply pace the distance on a speed test, you can not compare an indoor result with an outdoor result. Think about calibration and standardisation. For example: using callipers for skin fold measurements: let the same person do all the tests.
  • Tell your players why they are tested, what the consequences of the outcome might be. Otherwise the test is meaningless and results of the tests will be poor because your players are not motivated.
  • Organise yourself (record keeping and so), publish the outcome of the test as quickly as possible. This motivates your players.
  • Take care in comparing results between athletes.
  • See if an experienced exercise physiologist can help you to interpret the results.

What test?

The table below gives you the pros and cons of most used tests.

Area Tests Advantages Disadvantages
Body Composition Height/weight Simple Takes no account of muscle
Body mass index Simple Lacks accuracy
Body fat – callipers Quick and accurate Technique needs practice.
Interpretation of results needs care.
Endurance Cooper test Easy to administer Needs a track.
Pacing of run can be difficult.
Shuttle run or beep test Large groups can be tested.
Pacing and warm-up no problem.
Accuracy of measurement,
and calibration of tape/tape recorder essential.
VO2max Accurate Need equipment
Step test Submaximal Small inaccuracies in measurement
of recovery heart rate give large variations in results.
Wingate test Accurate Needs study and equipment
Strength / Power Sargent jump Basic jump test. Standardising technique.
Medicine ball throw Measures arm and upper body
Scores influenced by technique.
Multi gym measurements Measurements can be made
on a variety of muscle groups.
Need equipment.
Speed & agility Hand-timed sprints Easy to administer  Lacks accuracy
T-Test Easy to set up Lacks accuracy when hand-timed
Illinois Agility test Easy to set up Lacks accuracy when hand-timed


So, there you have it, lots of test to choose from. But before you start testing your players make sure what your goals are. Players are put off by ‘just doing tests’. For example, if a player scores 16.6 on the Yoyo test, what does that mean? Are you going to help to make that 17.5? Do you know how to do that?