Measuring Progress

August 19, 2016
By Patrick McHenry
Patrick McHenry, CSCS*D, is the Director of Strength & Conditioning at Castle View (Colo.) High School. He has presented to sport coaches, strength coaches, and physical education teachers at state, national, and international conferences. He is the former Colorado state director for the NSCA, was the chairman for the NSCA High School Special Interest Group, and is currently on the NSCA Board of Directors and Coaching Performance Committee.

When it comes to strength and conditioning, testing athletes is important. It allows a coach to determine where their student-athletes are now, what they need to work on, and where they should focus for improvement.

Testing is also the backbone of utilizing The Four Step Method, which enables a coach to build a successful strength program. These four steps include testing, evaluating, goal setting, and program design. (I will elaborate on the Four Step Method in a future article.)

I suggest using six exercises for performance testing, all of which are used in combine settings from college to professional and elite level, and none of which put your student-athletes in a potentially dangerous one repetition maxing situation. They include: Vertical Jump, Pro-Agility Run, 10 yard dash, Broad Jump, Medicine Ball Throw, and 3 Cone Drill.

These basic performance tests can be completed by any student-athlete, regardless of fitness level. When an athlete’s strength increases, their test scores improve. Research has shown a correlation between the vertical jump, sprinting, and clean (see references at end of article). When leg strength improves, the student-athlete will be able to lower their center of gravity, which helps their deceleration and improves their Pro-Agility Run time.

To get the most out of this method, videotape all the testing so you and the student-athlete can evaluate their performance. This can be done with a simple camera and the basic software that comes with most computers. For a more technologically advanced method, you can use Dartfish Software, which allows you to use slow motion, frame-by-frame analysis, or even side-by-side comparison.

An added advantage to video-taping is that video can be shown to parents if you meet with them. The parent will be able to see if their child is bending at the back or using their legs in the vertical jump. They can see if there is a difference in the deceleration phase of the Pro-Agility Run and watch their child’s form in the 10-yard sprint. As the student-athlete improves, previous videos can be compared with older ones, allowing the coach to show improvements in form and performance to the parent and the student-athlete.

Measure Height and Weight

Before I begin testing, I measure student-athletes’ height and body weight. Use the following procedures for accuracy.

Height: I like to measure height because it lets me know if an athlete is going through a growth spurt, in which can I can adjust their lifting program. The athletes are lined up in alphabetical order with their shoes off. An assistant should have a data record card to write down all information.

Equipment and Materials needed:

  • Device to measure height or a flat wall against which the athlete stands.
  • Measuring tape or marked area on wall.
  • Device to place on the head of the athlete that forms a right angle with the wall.

Procedure:

  • Athlete must have shoes off.
  • Athlete must stand with heels, buttocks, back, and head against wall.
  • Place device on athlete’s head so that a right angle is formed with the wall.
  • Measure to the nearest half inch and record the height.

Bodyweight: An athlete’s weight is used to calculate power output. The athletes are lined up in alphabetical order with their shoes off. An assistant should have a data record card to write down all information.

Equipment and Materials needed:

  • Scale

Procedure:

  • Athlete must weigh in with only t-shirt, shorts, and socks (no shoes or sweats).
  • Athlete should weigh prior to any activity to avoid fluctuations due to dehydration.
  • Round the bodyweight to the nearest whole pound.

Gathering Results

Logging results can be made easier by having a good form. An easy form can be made with an Excel spreadsheet. Having the students’ names on the left column and the tests on the top allows for easy scoring. For a more formal worksheet, type “sports performance testing spreadsheets” into Ask.com. The NSCA offers a “Guide to Tests & Assessments,” which is another great resource.

Performance Tests

Now you are ready to begin the tests. Throughout all of the following the tests, line up the student-athletes in alphabetical order to keep things moving faster. Have your data record card available to write down all information. Below are detailed descriptions of how to conduct each assessment.

Performance Test # 1: Vertical Jump

Equipment and Materials needed:

  • Device to measure vertical jump

Procedure:

  • Athlete stands next to the unit.
  • Make sure their feet and hips are next to the unit.
  • Athlete reaches as high as possible with one hand. This will be the starting point to measure from.
  • With feet flat, the athlete jumps, touching the highest point possible. No steps or shuffling the feet are allowed.
  • Record the jump to the nearest half inch.
  • Record the better of the two jumps.

Performance Test # 2: Pro-Agility Run

Equipment and Materials needed:

  • Electronic agility timer or a stop watch
  • Flat running surface on a wood, basketball-type floor
  • Floor tape
  • Measuring tape

Set up:

  • Place one tape line down on the floor.
  • Measure 5 yards from the line and put another tape line down.
  • Measure 5 yards from the center line and put a tape line down.

(You can use the lines of a volleyball court instead of putting tape down.)

Procedure:

  • The athlete stands in a two-point (athletic) stance, straddling the center line.
  • The athlete always begins by running to the right first.
  • The athlete runs 5 yards and touches the line with their right hand.
  • The athlete turns and runs 10 yards and touches the line with their left hand.
  • The athlete turns and runs 5 yards through the center line, for a total of 20 yards.

Performance Test # 3: 10-Yard Dash

Equipment and materials needed:

  • Electronic agility timer or a stop watch
  • Flat running surface on a wood, basketball-type floor
  • Floor tape
  • Measuring tape

Set up:

  • You can use the lines of a volleyball court instead of putting tape down, or
  • Use the tape that you put down for the Pro-Agility Run.

Procedure:

  • Athlete places one hand on the starting line.
  • The time begins when the athlete moves. (Look at the hand on the ground. When it moves, start the stop watch.)
  • The athlete runs through the finish line.
  • Alternate distances can be used. The 20-yard dash will measure powerful start and acceleration.

Performance Test # 4: Broad Jump

Equipment and Materials needed:

  • Flat running surface on a wood, basketball-type floor
  • Floor tape
  • Measuring tape

Set up:

  • You can use the lines of a volleyball court instead of putting tape down.
  • It is best to tape down the measuring tape so that it does not move.

Procedure:

  • Athlete stands behind the line.
  • Two feet jump. When the athlete lands, they are not to move.

 Performance Test # 5: Medicine Ball Throw

Equipment and Materials needed:

  • Flat running surface on a wood, basketball-type floor
  • Floor tape
  • Measuring tape
  • 3-kg medicine ball for males, 2-kg medicine ball for females.

Set up:

  • You will need a wall so the athletes can sit against it (or put their back against it, if you choose to do the standing medicine ball throw).
  • The tape measure will be against the wall.

Procedure:

  • Athlete will stand or sit down with their back against the wall.
  • Holding the medicine ball with both hands, the athlete pushes the ball with both hands equally.
  • The athlete maintains their back against the wall throughout the throw.

Performance Test # 6: 3 Cone Drill

Equipment and Materials needed:

  • Electronic agility timer or a stop watch
  • Flat running surface on a wood, basketball-type floor
  • Floor tape
  • Measuring tape

Set up:

  • You can use the lines of a volleyball court instead of putting tape down, or
  • Use the tape that you put down for the Pro Agility Run.

Procedure:

  • Athlete places on hand on the starting line.
  • The time begins when the athlete moves. (Look at the hand on the ground. When it moves, start the stop watch.)
  • The athlete runs runs to the top line, touching it with their right hand, turns and runs back to the starting line. They touch the starting line with the right hand and turn again running back to cone 2. The athlete goes around the cone and then to the inside of cone 3, around it and back around cone 2 to the starting line. Below is a diagram:

With baseline data on each student-athlete’s current performance, you can then analyze the results, set goals, and design a program. I will detail these steps in a future article. The next time you test, you should see measurable results, for individual student-athletes and for your team as a whole.

 

 

References:

1. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Jul;50(14):865-72.  Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Olympic weightlifting training improves vertical jump height in sportspeople: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

Hackett D1, Davies T1, Soomro N1, Halaki M1.

2. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Sep;24(9):2440-8.

Vertical jump biomechanics after plyometric, weight lifting, and combined (weight lifting + plyometric) training.

Arabatzi F1, Kellis E, Saèz-Saez De Villarreal E.

3. Sports Med. 2014 Dec;44(12):1693-702. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0227-1.

Increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

Seitz LB1, Reyes A, Tran TT, Saez de Villarreal E, Haff GG.

 

SEE ALSO

Here's a tool for evaluating the progress of your athletes ...Learn More

Make Your Athletes' Workouts More Efficient ...Learn More

Replace Racks of Dumbbells with One Set of PowerBlocks ...Learn More

Learn the Future of Training ...Learn More

http://www.dartfish.com/express ...Learn More

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