Athletic performance testing

Articles > Athletic performance testing

The more you know about your athlete and about his potential, the more effective preparation for competition can be made. However, knowing about the potential of the athlete requires organized, systematic, reliable and consistent evaluation and recording of the performance data. A test requires performance by the individual. Evaluation refers to the process of determing the status of that person relative to a standard. It is important to know that the evaluator of the test must always be the coach and not the athlete, although the latter may oftern be an important assistant (Bompa, 1999). At least two important aspects must be considered for choosing the test for evaluation: validity, reliability and standardization.

The main principle of evaluating the performance of the athlete is: Minimum testing, maximal reliable feedback (Viru & Viru, 2000). This means that you should test your testing battery focusing on the feedback you need, not on the testing process itself.

The golden standard for testing would be the sport specific performance test, however not always the sport specific performance can be tested with appropriate test. For example, performance in  team games is difficult to measure, since it is a combination of several abilities. It is also difficult to measure sport specific performances on longer distances, since running maximal 10k over different periods may bee too stressful for the athlete in addition to forthcoming competitions. In this case test protocols must be developed that correlate very highly with the actual sport performance.

When focusing on choosing the tests and seting up testing batteries the coach must think that the results of those tests must provide: 1) The progress of the athlete; 2) Finding out the weak abilities of the athlete that limit his/her improvement, 3) Possible prediction of the improvement.

If you do not know what kind or what type of test you want to use, choose the test that suits better to the training routine of the subjecs. In order to be highly practical, the used test should not require any technical sophistication or high degree skills, except the time to learn the technique of performing those tests.

Performance data can be recorded as:

  • Competitive performance
  • Performance tests
    • Incremental tests
    • Constant intensity tests

Plan the above mentioned tests at the end of the microcycles where specific target ability was developed in order to make conclusions how succesful the training cycle was. Performance tests if fitted into the training program may motivate the athlete in the period without competitions.  Bompa (1999) also sugests that in addition to preplanned performance tests, it is wise to make sudden testing, where the athlete does not have time to prepare him/herself mentally for the test.

Testing standards represent an incentive for preparation and progress. Standards must be difficult enough to present a challenge and at the same time realistic enough achievable.


Bompa T. (1999) Periodization. Theory and methodology of training. Champaign: Human Kinetics

Viru, A., Viru, M. (2001) Biochemical Monitoring of Sport Training. Champaign: Human Kinetics.