We know that testing is a vital component for tracking results, prevention of injury and seeing if a program is working. There are many forms of testing that you can do per sport and per age group. We are going to focus on tests that are applicable to not only any athlete age 13 and up, but also any sport the athlete plays. When testing athletes you want to make sure that you hit 6 areas:
-FMS (Functional Movement Screen)
Within these 6 tests we are going to be able to see patterns within athlete performance and base a program around these. It is important to note that a natural athlete may be good at these tests and we must consider the training age of the athlete (time spent in a gym) vs biological age (age in years). A natural athlete might perform well on the athletic tests but falter in the injury prevention tests. This is an indication that whilst they may be strong for their age, considerations in their program are needed for injury prevention and a base strength program. If we just took their athletic testing we would progress them too fast and injuries may occur. Below is a breakdown of the 6 tests we are talking about.
1.Injury prevention is key in strength and conditioning and is a vital component in the field of strength and conditioning.
a.Medical intake form is important too because you need to see if they have had any previous injuries or any medical issues that may alter their program. Things like asthma, diabetes and heart issues are a major concern. Recent surgeries and any acute injuries within 3 months is also important for their program design.
b.FMS (functional movement screen) uses 7 tests to determine stability, mobility and core strength. These tests are scored on a range from 1-3 (3 being the highest) and a total score of 21. Tests include the hamstring test (ASLR) to determine the flexibility of one hamstring compared to the other, Hurdle step, used to track hip mobility and core stability. The Inline lunge test looks at the function of the knee and the stability of the back. This testing method is a great way to see some limiting factors that may hinder an athlete’s performance. From these scores we can take the athlete through a mobility and activation circuit designed to help increase these numbers and decrease the chances of possible injury.
2.For our core power test we use the seated medicine ball throw. This is done by having the athlete sit against the wall, bottom on the floor and legs straight out. Using a 6lb medicine ball, toss the ball using a chest pass (no turning of the shoulder like a shot put) and throwing it for distance. Taking the legs and upper body out of the equation we can see the power produced by the core. This gives us a good indication on whether the athlete needs core power work.
3.There are a couple variations of strength we can look at doing. We generally only do this with our HS athletes who have some training age experience. We will use, depending on sport, bench press, a variation of the squat (back or hex dl) and pullup test. These numbers play a roll in producing a percentage based lifting program for our advanced athletes.
4.For power test using the vertical jump. The vertical, especially the static vertical jump, is a great indicator of power. There is an important correlation between vertical jump and power. Generally an athletes who show the top results in this test, have good strength and power bases in most other tests.
5.For our speed test we use the 10 yard dash. Many will tell you that a 40 yard test is best, however with injury concerns and a lack of sounds reasoning behind 40 rather than 10, it is only really used for testing by the NFL. We do not want to put the athlete into a top end sprint where injuries become a concern. The 10-yard dash is optimal because it shows acceleration and power whilst minimising injury risk. Again the athletes who test well here will also test well in the power test of the vertical jump.
6.Endurance testing is also a great component in putting together a great program. We have 2 types that are used:
a.Muscular endurance is important to monitor conditioning of muscles. This is often tracked through the 60 second pushup test. This test will challenge the athletes on their upper body conditioning.
b.Cardiovasuclar tests are applicable on a sport by sport basis. For example for soccer we use the the beep test, basketball some sort of suicide testing and for our general athletes a 2 mile airdyne bike ride. These tests are great for seeing how conditioned their body is. They are done in scientific conditions in order to minimise anomalous results. Never switch up protocol unless it is universal across all tests. We want to be consistant and accurate to gain the most valid and accurate results. We take pride as strength and conditioning coaches in our results. It is worth remembering that great results come from great programming and great programming comes with experimentation and experience. Never put the cart before the horse, whilst athletes might find testing boring, explaining the benefits on performance and injury prevention at that high level will provide fantastic motivation.