Fitness Testing Guide
3. Benefits of Fitness Testing
Identify Weaknesses and Strengths
Of the many benefits of fitness testing, the major use is to establish the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete. This is done by comparing test results to other athletes in the same training group, the same sport, or a similar population group. Previous test results of large groups are often published as normative tables.
By comparing results to successful athletes in your sport, you can see the areas which need improvement, and the training program can be modified accordingly. This way valuable training time can be used more efficiently. However, beware that some athletes perform well in their sport despite their physical or physiological attributes, and it may not be advantageous to be like them.
The initial testing session can give the athlete an idea of where their fitness levels are at the start of a program, so that future testing can be compared to this and any changes can be noted. A baseline is especially important if you are about to embark on a new training phase. Subsequent tests should be planned for the end and start of each new phase.
By repeating tests at regular intervals, you can get an idea of the effectiveness of the training program The time-frame between tests can depend on the availability of time or costs involved, or the phase of training the athlete is in. Depending of these factors, the period between tests may range from two weeks to six months. It usually takes a minimum of 2-6 weeks to see a demonstrable change in any aspect of fitness.
The incentive to improve can often be provided by the 'goal' of a certain test score. By knowing that they will be tested again at a later date, the athlete can aim to improve in that area.
Testing is primarily used for help in designing the most appropriate athletic training program. A general non-sport specific testing battery can provide you with an idea of your basic strengths and weaknesses, and from this you may find you would be better suited to another sport which makes better use of your strengths. Although testing has sometimes been used in this way for talent identification, it has generally not been very reliable in predicting the future success of juniors (mainly due to varying growth patterns) and in sports which rely heavily on other factors such as technique, tactics and psychological factors (see more about talent ID testing)
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