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Testing An Athlete for Their Speed Potential is Essential for Success

Nov 6, 2007
A key part to any good training program is to know the current status of an athlete with regards to their strengths and weaknesses. How fast is the athlete now! How agile is the athlete! What is their reaction time like? Are they fast only over a short distance or do they possess speed-endurance! Does the lack of good flexibility inhibit their ability to become faster? The only way to answer these questions is to perform some pre-season testing.

Many coaches perform some form of pre-season testing yet many do not know which tests to choose and which are specific to the fitness component that they are trying to test. Choose tests that are specific to the movements in your sport. This requires performing a needs analysis and understanding the exact requirements for your sport.

Benefits of Testing Include:

Identifying the current status of the athlete with regards to speed. It gives you an idea of where you stand in comparison to fellow athletes in your sport. When you conduct testing it will allow the athlete to see where they stand in relation to other athletes. They can also use these tests to motivate them in training to improve and strive to beat their test score the next time testing comes around.

Testing helps you to set goals for yourself. You may not be as fast as your opponent but you can certainly decrease the difference gap. Speed is recognised as one of the most important factors for success when training athletes. Once you know your current speed status then you can set goals for yourself on what times you will aim to get.

Testing also allows you to see if you are fast in certain areas but not in others. Eg. Do you have linear speed but are slow when it comes to speed with multi-directional changes?

Are you fast once you get going but lose time due to being slow off the mark? As already mentioned there are many often neglected factors that determine how fast an athlete is.

Testing gives you specific times and results for a test that are measurable and allows you to set goals for improving on theses times. When you beat a previous time for a certain test then you know that you have become a faster athlete.

Tests for Speed include the sprint test over 10 metres, sprint test over 20 metres, fan drill (used for the ITN Test), suicide sprints (speed - endurance, wave run speed and agility test and the 3 line speed and agility test.

Tests for Agility include the agility box run test, 5 ball pick-up, 4 cone sprint, "T" agility test and the bowtie drill.

Tests for Strength include 1 RM tests (bench press, 1 RM test (squat, handgrip strength test (hand grip dynamometer, abdominal strength test (sit-ups in 1 minute, isokinetic strength tests, total number of dips, pull-up test and total number of push-ups.

Tests for Power include medicine ball side-throw, medicine ball overhead throw, single-leg hopping test, squat, vertical jump test, standing broad jump test.

Tests for Flexibility include sit and reach, shoulder flexibility (use goniometer), hamstring flexibility.

Testing guidelines include testing prior to commencing your training program and conducting a thorough warm-up before you begin testing.

When testing you have to duplicate the exact testing procedures and variables in order to obtain valid and reliable results. You should also avoid excessive physical activity the day before testing. Perform the test at the same time of the day, perform the tests on the same surface and try to perform the test under similar weather conditions.

Other key points include performing the explosive tests first during a training or testing session. Be sure to clearly instruct the athletes on how to perform the test and allow for a trial run through of the test thus allowing for the "learning" factor associated with a new test.

Tests should be simple and easy to administer. Perform tests in the same order when re-testing. Have the athletes wear the same shoes and clothing. Test every 6 - 8 weeks. There is no need to test every month or few weeks and in fact this can be counter productive. You must allow enough time for the adaptational effects of your training to occur.

These tests should not be too time-consuming to set up and perform. There are many tests that you can perform that do not require special equipment. Most of these tests are not costly or difficult to set up.

Testing is a great way to monitor your training program and to see what changes need to occur in order to be more productive.

With any good speed testing program it is very important that you perform tests specific to your sport. In tennis speed occurs over very short distances. In other sports such as American Football you would test speed for wide receivers over 40 yards. This is where the needs analysis that you have conducted for your sport will identify these important variables.
About the Author
David Horne is a former professional tennis player who has created several online sports web sites including Sports eBooks which is the Ultimate Sports eBook Directory for all sports fans!
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