Testing for Intermittent Sports

In intermittent or interval type team sports, such as rugby, football (soccer), and Aussie Rules, the players require a wide range of fitness abilities that are specific for each sport. Not only are the players required to reproduce high intensity sprints, they also need to be strong and powerful, run fast, be agile and keep running for extended periods (high aerobic endurance). The physiological demands of the sport may also be determined by the playing position, level of play, the officiating style of the referee and the tactics used.

A good understanding the physiological demands of the sport is required to design an appropriate testing regime, and the fitness test protocols should be closely matched to the physiological demands. Due to range of fitness requirements of players involved in intermittent or interval type team sports, they must therefore undergo a wide range of tests to fully assess their fitness. Uniquely to intermittent sports is ability to continually produce short bursts of high intensity work, often with short periods for recovery.

Testing Anaerobic Capacity

Intermittent Sports like soccerHigh intensity exercise stresses the anaerobic energy system. Each short burst of high intensity exercise depletes the stores of creatine phosphate and utilizes anaerobic glycolysis in which lactic acid is produced. There is often insufficient time to recover completely after each sprint, leading to the accumulation of lactic acid. The efficient removal of lactic acid is required to limit muscle fatigue.

There are many tests of anaerobic capacity that require a single burst of activity, such as:

These tests have their uses, but are not specific to the demands of intermittent type team sports, as the ability to reproduce these efforts is not tested.

Testing anaerobic capacity in team sport players is designed to measure not only their anaerobic power, but also their ability to recover from these bursts of high intensity exercise. There are a few tests of repeat sprint ability, using a maximal sprint over a set distance or time with minimal rest periods. Example of such tests are:

The problem with the above tests is that they do not closely replicate the demands of the sport. Sprints during play are often variable in intensity and duration. The difficulty is to create a test that is mimics the demands of the sport, and be still reliable and valid. As the intermittent sprints during play are not consistent, it’s impossible to get test that exactly replicates the demands of the sport. With the complex tests that are required, it is difficult to control all factors and create a reproducible test. Below are some of the fitness tests that have tried to address these issues.

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