The focus of the coaching staff of this selection was to create an climate where young and promising players could grow into a mature athlete for the National team. For most of the players it was a time for serious decision making: pursue a career as a top rugby player or not? Testing players fitness fitted in nicely in this philosophy.
The program was divided in several sections:
- Strength tests using a multi gym, sargent jump
- Body Composition using skin fold, height / weight measurements, stretch-and-reach mobility test
- Anaerobic endurance test: shuttle run (also know as beep test or multistage fitness test)
These test were performed at Papendal, the Dutch National Sports center at the following times:
- End of September (normal club season in fourth week)
- Around Christmas
- March (we used to have internationals in April / May)
Test would be performed at Friday evening, the beep test or shuttle run test indoors and the players would get an evaluation after Saturdays lunch. (Saturday we would do unit and team skills). Saturday afternoon players would leave for home with a copy of their test results (including previous results). I developed a database for this.
An interesting correlation exists between the shuttle run tests and the fat percentage of a player. This way we could prove the players that minding what you eat can improve your ability as a player. (My database would generate these and graphs). The result was that players improved on their diet.
Interesting results were players changing their diet, picking up weight training schedules, comparing their results amongst each other and setting a standard (norming). I think a good example was the growing popularity of the banana the fast food version of fruit.
Fitness training became an essential element of the Under 21 Selection.