This test has been set up for hockey and is later used for soccer too. It measures the speed, agility and ball control. This page is based on an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 38, 138-142.
I ran into this test when I visited the talent program of the F.C. Heereveen where the Rijks Universiteit Groningen conducted a series of tests. I have used the test in rugby several times now.
The Field Hockey background of the test
Competitive field hockey matches place heavy aerobic demands on players and require them to expend energy at relatively high levels. High-intensity activities such as cruising, sprinting, and activities in which the player is directly involved with the ball (for example, dribbling) have been shown to represent between 17.5 - 30% of the competition time and are considered critical to the outcome of the game. Furthermore, in field hockey, high and low intensity activities alternate by a ratio ranging from about 1:4 to 1:8. Consequently, as well as maximal performance on individual high intensity activities, the ability to produce high intensity efforts is crucial for top level field hockey players.
Field hockey is a multiple high intensity activity sport with a multidirectional nature. The ability to change direction rapidly while maintaining balance without loss of speed – that is, agility - is therefore an important physical component necessary for successful performance in field hockey. Elite field hockey players also need high level technical skills such as being able to dribble without losing running speed. For a technically good player, dribbling is essentially an automatic process, and the better players distinguish themselves by their running speed while dribbling the ball.
Coaches, trainers, and players are continually searching for effective methods of identifying and developing those characteristics in a player that may enhance performance.
There are a variety of field tests with which to measure the physiological and technical characteristics of players in team games like soccer, rugby, and handball. However, there was no single test to measure both physiological and technical characteristics in field hockey
players and for this reason Lemmink, Elferink-Gemser and Visscher developed the Shuttle Sprint and Dribble Test (Shuttle SDT) to measure shuttle sprint and dribble performance. Based on tests for agility the Slalom Sprint and Dribble Test (Slalom SDT) was developed to measure slalom sprint and dribble performance.
The relevance to Rugby
From an fitness perspective, the demands on rugby players are very similar to those of hockey players. Of course the dribble aspect is not present with rugby, I substituted this with ball carrying. My intention was to look if players improved after being trained using SAQ methods.
Background information on the Slalom Sprint & Dribble Test
Slalom sprint performance was measured by using the Slalom Sprint and Dribble Test (Slalom SDT; Lemmink et al., 2004a) (see Figure below). In this field hockey specific test, players have to sprint 30 m in a zigzag fashion with twelve 120-degree turns around cones placed 2 m apart while carrying a hockey stick.
I have my rugby players perform the test twice, with- and without carrying the ball.
When to perform the test, frequency
This test does not leave players completely exhausted like the Shuttle Run Test, so this can be done more often. Players see this as just another SAQ circuit run which makes it more fun to do.
The test requires markers, a stopwatch and a tape measure. I have made a rope with knots a the 2 meter spacing to mark out the spacing quickly.
Check the beep stage timing with a stopwatch. Tapes have a tendency to stretch, ruining your timing! You can use the beep test to:
- track how players progress in time
- compare players with others
- compare a players fitness level after his return from injury
It takes about 20 minutes to administer the test for a whole team.
My rugby experience with the Slalom Sprint and Dribble Test
I used this test when working on my final written exam for my SAQ i-Diploma. Neat test, but the run with and without carrying a ball showed practically the same results
- The original document describing the test in detail.