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.

Introduction

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.

slalom test

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.

Practicalities

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

Related Documents

The Shuttle Run or Beep / Bleep / Pacer / YoYo Test determines the maximum aerobic endurance of a player. It is a very accurate and popular fitness test and one you can do very easily now: with the Bitworks Team Beeptest software you can turn your laptop or computer into a beeptest machine!

The team beep test is very accurate (200th of a second) - even compared to the mp3/CD versions you now can buy on the internet. The Team Beeptest version has the added value of easy gathering and display of the players beep test scores over the season and makes the test very easy to administer. Simply click on the player button and the software will automatically record the stage. On overview of the software features:

  • You can record the beep test scores of individual players while you run the test, when a player is "out" you only have to click the named button with to record their score to a text file database. This allows you to focus on the proper execution of the test.
  • VO2 Max figures are updated on the main test screen in real time.
  • View the team fitness on a chart, see screen shots below or direct view of the players text file.
  • Everything now resides on one system: your test and the results.
  • You can put together your own test, specify stages, intervals and rest times. There are coaches who setup a waterpolo and wheel chair versions of the test.
  • Print the players scores directly to give the players immediate feedback.
  • Convert the player.txt file to excel and have even more freedom for further analysis (something you want to do anyway, even with using an audio version.....)
  • Or of course the other way around: once you have an imported players.txt in Excel and you can easily cut and paste your players names into a text file, save it as players.txt and you are ready to test.

This is a website for rugbycoaches but the Team Beeptest software can of course be used for all sports! This fitness test is particularly suitable for players of team sports which require stop-start movements and constant changes of direction.

How to buy Team Beeptest?

We use Paypal - secure payment and privacy guaranteed. This is how it works:

  1. If you would like to use the software then please purchase the Team Beeptest by clicking on the Paypal button below, the cost is 25 Euro, about 30 U.S. Dollar but your currency is automatically converted by PayPal.
  2. Once your payment is processed, Paypal will inform rugbycoach.com giving me your name and email address (nothing else, not your credit card details!)
  3. I will sent you the software. Simply unzip the file and your ready to run (literally !! - no further installation is required). The software runs on Windows only.
  4. Then simply register the software with Bitworks (please see the readme.txt file in the zip download), they will provide the activation code and email/telephone support.

Please note: you do not need a Paypal account to purchase Team BeepTest, you can also make a secure, no charge payment on your credit card through Paypal. Look for the credit card payment link down on the left after you have clicked through to the PayPal page.

 

Team BeepTest screen shots

The main screen:

beeptest

This how the team stats look like:

beeptest statistics

How to edit the players file:

teamplayers.txt

How the imported players.txt. looks in Excel

shuttle run test

Related material

 

This is a state-of-the-art test designed to measure the anaerobic capacity by using a bicycle ergo meter. I have not tried it myself but this is some info Don de Winter gave me.

For more information on both the test and the theoretical background of the test you might be interested in the work of Bar Or. He co-wrote this book:

 

The book is written by the test's developers, The Wingate Anaerobic Test explains the methodological considerations, typical findings, and various applications of the test. Plus, it eliminates the confusion over how to apply the test accurately and consistently.

The "Wingate Anaerobic Test" includes an introduction to the test and perspective on how it compares with other tests of anaerobic power:

  • descriptions of the proper protocol, necessary equipment, obtainable measures, standardization process, and safety considerations during and after the test;
  • summaries of research on the reliability, validity, and sensitivity of the test;
  • discussions of factors to control or consider while performing the test;
  • typical values of performance found with various groups of subjects;
  • suggestions for future research in anaerobic testing.

The appendix includes data collected at the Wingate Institute over many years, presenting typical values for healthy, untrained Israeli males and females aged 8 to 45 years.

Review

"This book will provide the practitioner with a concise source for protocol and norms. I found the book to be well written and organized. This test is well described in the scientific literature, but norms on the various age groups characterized within this book make it an invaluable source. Our laboratory employs this test in the evaluation of many subjects in a variety of age groups. We will now be capable of providing valid comparisons for the individual to the population at large."
Gregory L. Dykstra, University of Illinois, PhD Candidate, Research Assistant

Target Audiences

Reference for exercise physiologists, physical therapists, physical educators, sports medicine
specialists, physicians, athletic trainers, and fitness instructors.

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).

  • Leger, L.A. & Lambert, J. (1982) "A maximal multistage 20m shuttle run test to predict VO2 max", European Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 49, p1-5.

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 email 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:

  • track how players progress in time
  • compare players with others
  • compute the aerobic ability of the player using this table

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.

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

When subjecting your athletes 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 standardization. For example: using calipers 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 results of the tests will be poor.
  • Organize 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.

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

Area

Tests

Advantages

Disadvantages

Body Composition or Anthropometrics

Height/weight Simple Takes no account of muscle mass
Body mass index Simple Lacks accuracy
Body fat - weight scale Quick and accurate Needs special scale - now more reliable
Body fat - calipers Quick and accurate Technique needs practice.
Interpretation of results needs care.
Endurance or Aerobic Capacity Cooper test Easy to administer Needs a track.
Pacing of run can be difficult.
YoYo test Large groups can be tested.
Pacing and warm-up no problem.
Simulates a match situation
Accuracy of measurement, and calibration of tape/tape recorder a problem.

Better use the beeptest software you can download from this site!

Shuttle run or bleep test Large groups can be tested.
Pacing and warm-up no problem.
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
A.R.U. fitness test Large groups can be tested
Related to rugby skills = more fun

Difficult to reproduce results
Execution of skill can become sloppy

Strength / Power

Sargent jump Basic vertical jump test Standardizing technique, needs equipment
Curl-ups / Sit-up Basic test Needs standardizing using a mat
Medicine ball throw Measures arm and upper body strength Scores influenced by technique
Multi gym measurements Measurements can be made on a variety of muscle groups. Need equipment.
Anaerobic threshold Maximum heart rate monitors Basic test empirical, not accurate. Needs equipment
220 - ages rule Quick, easy empirical
Conconi test better than above Needs track and equipment
Lab tests accurate complicated, needs lab
De-hydration urine color test Easy to do Gives only indication
Speed Hand-timed sprints Easy to administer.
Distances should be 10, 20 & 40 meters
Not accurate enough to reflect any changes in performance.
Speed and Agility Slalom Sprint & Dribble Test Easy to set-up Deviced for hockey and soccer
Flexibility Sit and reach Simple measure hamstring and lower back mobility. Need to standardize technique.
Other Measurements quite gross and influenced by other factors.

Original table compiled by John Brewer, later additions by Don de Winter and Martin Slagt

Rugby Test sets

You can combine these tests to a representative set and of course the Ozzies have sorted this out. The University of Queensland Rugby Academy's Skill and Physiological Testing programs focus on enhancing physical and core rugby skills required to perform at a higher level. A variety of tests are offered, appropriate to player age and relevance to specific rugby programs. The UQ School of Human Movement Studies can facilitate the following physiological tests for your program:

  • Speed (10, 20, & 40m)
  • Vertical Jump (Power)
  • Phosphate Decrement
  • Anthropometrics
  • Aerobic Capacity (Beep Test)

Players are given a comprehensive assessment across a number of identified core skills:

  • Catch and pass
  • Defense
  • Impact:
    Ball carrier
    Support player and support player decision making

For more advanced teams, the assessment extends to simple running lines:

  • Quality of lines run
  • Ball carrier decision making

As you can see, also rugby specific tests. Would be interesting to see all the test results they have and the opportunity to put your results against that database. Download an overview of the test on the Free Download Page.

Dutch Under21 program

While working with the Dutch National Under 21 team we used fitness testing to create awareness amongst our player of their responsibility for their physical fitness. Also we focused selected players: if they did not improve, they would have to leave the selection. This page describes the Under 21 program.

VO2max values

The VO2max tells you something about the amount of oxygen your body is using. Originally performed on a bicycle, the test has also been performed on a treadmill. Look here to compute VO2max values from Cooper test results. More info on the Cooper Test here. The Beeptest software also gives you an indication of VO2max, the value of this is still debated.

The Wingate or the bicycle/treadmill test are still the best. I do a book review on the test in the book section.