The Shuttle Run Test

The Shuttle Run determines the maximum aerobic endurance of a player. The test was first published by Leger and Lambert (1982).

There are many alternative names now for the shuttle run fitness test, including Beep Test, Bleep Test, YoYo Test and the Pacer test. With this test the participants run back and forth across the gym or training pitch between two lines/markers set twenty meters apart until the players fails to reach the mark at the 'beep' on three consecutive laps or shuttles. The test is usually performed indoor and the speed of the participants is determined by the interval between the audio beeps played on a CD player, cassette or laptop.

James Bickerton (Bitworks Engineering) wrote a piece of software in July 2004 to transform your laptop into a beep test machine. James also gave it to me to put it on my website - hundreds of downloads since! He has focused on the timing accuracy - 'in test on our slowest machine (400MHz Pentium II) we achieved 2 hundredths of a second accuracy on the beep timing, check your test.txt after running the application'. James wants to know if you would like any modifications, ie. new test, extra features or maybe your team colours on the graphics, for a free ticket! You can email james at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

There is now a Team Beep Test version (May 2008) that allows you to run a test for the team and log/view the results very quickly as the test is completed. The Team version has been jointly developed by Rugbycoach.com and Bitworks. Each player's score is logged, with a single button press and can be saved to a file, team performance can be viewed on a chart to show fitness over the season. Have a look or download the free application.

Background information on the beep test

The starting speed is 8 km/h and each minute the speed is increased by decreasing the interval between the beeps, see the table below for ‘beep’ interval times for each one minute stage.

Stage

Speed

Interval

Stage

Speed

Interval

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

8,0
8,5
9,0
9,5
10,0
10,5
11,0
11,5
12,0
12,5

9,0
8.5
8,0
7,6
7,2
6,9
6,6
6,3
6,0
5,8

11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

13,0
13,5
14,0
14,5
15,0
15,5
16,0
16,5
17,0
17,5

5,5
5,3
5,1
5,0
4,8
4,7
4,5
4,4
4,2
4,1

Players should pivot on the line at the moment of the beep (not quicker or slower). The test result is expressed in stages, you can score between 1/2 or 1 stage.

When to perfrom the bleeptest, frequency

This test leaves players completely exhausted so there is an important motivational aspect with this test but players can enjoy the challenge. Also this type of maximum testing takes up a lot of valuable training time and have to carefully planned in the season.

Short-term improvement to individual player fitness may not be readily apparent. Progress is influenced by changes in the workload, number of matches, recovery from injuries, sickness and more. So regular monthly testing is not to be advised.

Practicalities

Timing is critical so it is important for the CD/MP3 or older audio cassette plays at the correct speed. We have found that CD players can be affected by pitch controls (set these at neural or off), MP3 playback speed can be affected by mismatch on CODEC sample rates.

Check the playback with the 1 min. test period at the start of the tape. If not possible to adjust for errors in playback speed you will have to work with the shuttle length using this table:

Seconds

Distance

Seconds

Distance

Seconds

Distance

55,0
55,5
56,0
56,5
57,0
57,5
58,0

18,3
18,5
18,7
18,8
19,0
19,2
19,3

58,5
59,0
59,5
60,0
60,5
61,0
61,5

19,5
19,7
19,8
20,0
20,2
20,3
20,5

62,0
62,5
63,0
63,5
64,0
64,5
65,0

20,7
20,8
21,0
21,2
21,3
21,5
21,7

Check the beep stage timing with a stopwatch. Tapes have a tendancy to stretch, ruining your timing!

You can use the beep test to:

It takes about 90 minutes to administer the test for a whole team.

My experience with the Beep Test

Just to give you an idea what we used to set as goals for the Dutch U21 selection when we tested them in the gym:

Front Row: 9 -11 stages
2nd Row: 10-11
Back Row: 11-13
Half backs: 12
Backs: 12-13

Here is a sample result from a test. I plotted it against the percentage of body fat.

bleeptest scores

It is a bit of an overstatement but you see that players with a lower fat percentage score better on the beep test. This is explained by the mobility aspect of the test. It helped us to create a better awareness amongst the players about their diet.