Fitness Tests for Football

As with most team sports, there are many components of fitness that are important for success in football (soccer). In football, aerobic fitness is one of the most important attributes, closely followed by anaerobic fitness (running speed and repeat sprint ability) and agility. 

Recommended Tests

The table below lists my recommended battery of fitness tests for soccer players. For each physical attribute there are many suitable tests that may be used. For information about selecting fitness tests, go here.

Other examples:

Fitness Component example tests comments
Body Fat Body fat can be measured using the skinfold method. If this is not available, monitoring body weight changes would give an indication of body fat changes, assuming no change in muscle mass. Excess body fat would affect the football player's ability to move freely around the field, and the extra weight will increase fatigue. 
Flexibility The sit and reach test can be done for lower back and hamstring flexibility.  Good hamstring flexibility is important for football players in the ball kicking skill. 
Strength and Power The vertical jump test can be performed to measure leg power. Maximal strength tests for specific exercises should be conducted.  Strength (and power tests) should also be done to determine strength levels and to monitor strength changes in conjunction with training programs. 
Speed Sprint time over 40m, with a split time for the first 10m should be done. Maximum running speed and acceleration are very important in football. 
Agility The 505 agility test is a simple agility test that measures the ability to change direction 180 degrees. There are also more complex tests designed specifically for the demands of soccer such as the Balsom Run, and the Arrowhead Agility is commonly used for soccer players. The ability to quickly change direction is important for football. 
Repeat Sprints Repeat sprint tests are designed to measure not only anaerobic power, but also the ability to recover from short bursts of high intensity exercise. You can test just the repeat sprint ability with tests such as Sprint Fatigue Test. For more soccer specific activities designed to simulate the demands of soccer matches, the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test includes jogging, running and sprinting. Soccer players are required to continually produce short bursts of high intensity work interspersed with lower intensity activity.
Aerobic Fitness The shuttle run (beep) test is a simple test to conduct on testing a football team. There are also football specific tests that try to mimic the intermittent nature of the sport, such as the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test and the Yo-Yo Intermittent Tests. There is more information on the numerous other aerobic tests. Aerobic fitness is a very important component of fitness for football. Players need to be able to maintain a high intensity throughout the 90 minute game.

Special Considerations

The Goal Keeper

The goalkeeper has very specific fitness demands. Tests for the goalkeeper should concentrate on explosive power and flexibility. Some type of reaction test could also be incorporated.

Example Test Protocols

In 2013, the following test protocol was used by the Milan Soccer Academy. They also test the players in two main technical tests: Dribbling and Finishing.

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