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Entries Tagged as 'Fitness Testing'

AFL Controversially Drops Skinfold Testing

November 10th, 2021 · Comments Off on AFL Controversially Drops Skinfold Testing · AFL, Fitness Testing, Sports Nutrition

In a controversial move, the Australian Football League (AFL) have removed skinfold testing from the annual combine test battery, over mental health and body image concerns.

The skinfold test is a body composition assessment that is used throughout the world, and has been performed at the annual Draft Combine for over 20 years. It forms an important part of the player’s overall assessment at the combine, which includes testing in areas such as medical, physical, psychological and skills.

The test determines the player’s body fat percentage by measuring the thickness of a pinch of skin at multiple sites of the body. It is very useful to know the level of excess fat a player is carrying because excess body fat would affect the AFL player’s ability to jump vertically, move freely around the ground, and the extra weight can increase fatigue, which are all important aspects of the game of AFL. The sports science staff at a football club would like to know if a player is carrying extra weight that he could potentially lose, a worthwhile and often an easily achievable task.

AFL Game
A low body fat level enhances a player’s jumping ability

The decision to remove skinfold testing at the combine has been widely criticised by both players and AFL club officials. If the players are being body-shamed based on their skinfold test results, then that is a problem. The answer? Stop the body shaming, don’t stop this important part of the player assessment.

It seems like a case of blaming the tool. It may just be the way that the test results are presented to the players. Tell the players why it is important to measure this (and it is). Educate the players on the personal benefits of having skinfolds measured, and how it can enhance their physical performance and consequently the team’s performance.

Skinfold testing should be considered the same as any other component of fitness testing, as a chance to identify which areas they can improve to become a better player. If their 2km time trial is slow, extra work on the track is required, if their vertical jump score is low, a bit of extra leg work in the gym, if they are carrying a bit too much extra body fat, the sports dietitian can guide them to make changes to improve their diet. The aim of all of this is to improve the player, not to shame them. It is an opportunity to improve, not an opportunity to put them down.

I don’t think there is any chance of the test being put back on the combine tests list. It is going to leave the clubs to use other methods to estimate body fat of their potential draft picks, such as using the height and weight measurements to calculate BMI, and we know how badly that works as a measure of body fat in muscular individuals (like football players!). If the clubs see value in the skinfold test, it will probably stay as one of their assessments within the club for the time being, they just won’t have that information at hand when they are looking for new recruits.

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Topend Sports and the Coronavirus

May 5th, 2020 · No Comments · Fitness, Fitness Testing, Sports Nutrition

To all the visitors to my site, the Topend Sports community, I hope that you are staying safe and healthy.

I am fortunate to run this website from my home and have been able to continue as before, though like many other businesses around the world, we are being impacted by the lockdowns.

Most sporting competitions around the world have stopped, people are not searching for sport-related information, so website traffic has been reduced. Many businesses are struggling too, and cannot afford the same advertising budgets as before.

It is not all bad news though, the forced stay at home and extra time available is enabling me to get on top of lots of projects, fix things that are broken, add content and update information that I have long been meaning to do.

For the visitors to my site, there are many resources that can be useful during your forced downtime. Here are some of them.

Keeping Fit at Home

Lunge Exercise

Being confined to your home while doing your bit to slow down the spread of coronavirus is a balancing act. Trying to do some work, maintaining the household, looking after kids, and staying fit and healthy – it all takes up a lot of time. Therefore, many things drop down on your priority list, including your fitness.

However, your fitness workouts do not have to stop. A really effective workout you can do is the 7-minute Workout, or make up your own using this list of fitness exercises you can do at home. For a detailed discussion about staying healthy while working from home, see this article How To Stay Fit While Working From Home.

Don’t forget to stretch during long hours at a desk. Take a couple of minutes every hour to stand up and stretch your entire body. Check out our list of stretches, and use with these stretching guidelines.

Home Fitness Testing

Home Push Up Test

Many of the hundreds of fitness tests described on this site require specialist equipment or training, however not all do. Some fitness tests can be performed at home with equipment you can find around the home. Check out these home fitness tests which are designed to quickly and simply assess a person’s general fitness level.

On our partner website, you can download the Home fitness Test, a free ebook manual to guide you through a fitness assessment program that can be done at home with minimal equipment. The ebook includes all you need to know to perform 10 fitness tests that you can do yourself.

Staying Healthy

Spending more time at home means it is easy to eat more and exercise less (with the result being weight gain!). Find out about what is your healthy weight, and measure it too. Now might be the right time to make changes to improve your health and weight. Aim to follow these simple strategies for weight loss, and avoid some common fad diets.

It is easy to fall into the trap of snacking too often. Make sure you keep healthy snacks available for when you do get low in energy and need a boost, especially if you spend long hours doing tedious or tough work. Always follow a healthy diet, based on solid science-based principles. A well-balanced diet with good variety ensures adequate intake of all the essential nutrients in the diet.

Thank You

Thanks for your time on my site and I hope you can continue to find the information useful, and by supporting my advertisers you can help my business a little too.


At the FIFA World Cup, Does Size Matter?

July 13th, 2018 · No Comments · FIFA World Cup, Fitness Testing, Football (Soccer), Sports Nutrition

The FIFA Football World Cup in Russia is coming to its conclusion in a couple of days with the final between France and Croatia. Many of the top teams have been surprisingly knocked out early or not even making the tournament. It is challenging predicting which team will be successful, with none of the top three teams who were predicted to win making the final. What makes a team successful? There is no one factor which determines success; factors such as player skill, speed, agility, game experience, teamwork, coaching, fatigue level and mental focus are just some of the elements. Another factor, body size, may have only a minor effect, but an effect nonetheless.

Prior to the tournament, FIFA released the anthropometric data of the 736 players (squads of 23 from the 32 nations), which gave us the opportunity to compare the body size of players from each team and playing position. We found that out of all the teams, the goalkeepers at the 2018 FIFA World Cup stood out – they tended to be older, taller and heavier than the field players. The youngest players were the forwards, the shortest the midfielders, and the leanest based on BMI were the midfielders. Now that the two teams that are to battle out the final on Sunday are known, we have pulled out their team data and had a look at how they match up.

silhouettes of soccer players

Squads Compared

We compared the body size data of the French and Croatian 23-man squads. The Croatians are on average older (27.9 v 26.0 years), a couple of centimetres (an inch) taller (185.3 v 183.3), but of similar average weight (79.3 v 80.0kg). If we just compare the expected starting 11 players (based on their semi-final match), the age difference is even greater (29.5 v 26.2 years). For both teams, the average weight of the players in the starting 11 is lower than the full squad average (Croatia 79.3 to 77.6kg, France 80.0 to 78.9kg), indicating the top players are leaner. The lower weight was not just because they are shorter, as the Body Mass Index was lower too (Croatia 23.1 to 22.8, France 23.8 to 23.5).

Players Compared

The two goalkeepers expected to play in the final are Danijel Subasic of Croatia and Hugo Lloris of France. The Croatian has a couple of years more experience (aged 33.7 versus 31.5 years), and also has an advantage in size: he is taller (191 v 188cm) and heavier (84 v 82 kg).

Of the starting four defenders, the noteworthy difference is their age. The Croatians are on average more than five years older (28.9 v 23.6 years). If this age difference translates to greater maturity and experience on the field, then they have a distinct advantage.

Comparing the midfielders, the French players are on average quite a bit heavier (76.7 v 70.7 kg) despite being of very similar height. At this level, we don’t expect players to be carrying much excess body fat, so the difference in weight would be mostly due to them being more solidly built, having more muscle and therefore being stronger. If this World Cup final becomes a physical encounter, the French midfield players are going to have a big advantage.

The Croatian forwards are also a couple of inches taller than their French counterparts (187.0 v 181.7cm), which may be an advantage around the goals, particularly for corners and other set pieces.


When it comes to the physical attributes of the two teams, in most cases it has been the Croatian team that has the advantage. Of course, body size is not the most important factor for successful performance in football, though, if all other things are equal then it may be the difference that could win a World Cup for Croatia. However, it may just come down to luck, particularly if it finishes with a penalty shootout.

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Fitness Testing at Scienceworks Melbourne

October 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Fitness Testing

I recently took my family to Scienceworks interactive museum of science and technology in Melbourne. The kids are huge fans of Scitech, a similar place in our home town Perth, so we knew it would be an exciting day out. One of the biggest attractions at Scienceworks was the Sportsworks display.

sportsworks at scienceworks

Sportsworks has a lot of cool interactive displays related to sports, but I was most interested in the fitness testing section, which allows the visitor to test and measure themselves and learn about their own abilities.

The Sportsworks fitness assessment is a self-guided activity, including a recording booklet which directs you through each of the tests. It starts, as all good testing protocols should, with the standard anthropometric measurements. You measure your own height and weight, though there is no guarantee of the accuracy of the scales (or any other measurement device in the display). Even if they are calibrated regularly, the constant high use means it probably won’t stay that way for long.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

The simple measure of arm span was measured against a marked wall. I always like to compare arm span to height to determine proportion.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

Proportion is also assessed with a hand span test, and comparing your hand size to that of an Australian champion rower.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

The sit and reach test was used to test flexibility. There was no instruction to take off your shoes, which is not good for unsuspecting women in their high heels!

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

The balance test involved a type of wobbleboard (sorry no picture). You placed both feet on a board like a see-saw, and you tried to keep balanced without the ends touching the ground. It seemed too sensitive for most people, so scores were pretty low.

The reaction time test required you to press a stop button as soon as possible after another button lit up. It took several turns to determine the best score.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

Explosive power was measured with the vertical jump test. Jumping off the plate and not having to touch a height, lead to a few different techniques. Again it was the best of three attempts.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

Aerobic fitness (“heart fitness”) was measured with a step test. This one was a bit too complex for most people to complete correctly. After taking your resting heart rate, you were required to step up and down on a step (different sizes for adults and children), and then take your heart rate a minute after stopping by gripping on a sensor bar.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

Upper body strength was measured with a pull test on some strain gauge. It really was not a true upper body strength test, as this technique utilises back and leg strength too.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

The hand/eye coordination test was by far the most fun. You had to push each button on a grid as it lit up. We had to help our kids as they could not even reach the higher buttons – it was so tempting to help them at other times too!

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

Peripheral vision was tested too with the set-up shown below. You had to look straight ahead, then indicate at which point you don’t see the light as it moved out of your range of vision.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

Hand grip strength was measured using a dynamometer. There was no instruction to adjust the handle to the size of your hand, an important thing to do for hand grip testing.

Fitness testing at ScienceWorks in Melbourne Australia

And finally there was a sprint speed test, which was not officially part of the fitness testing. You line up at the starting line of a 10 metre track, and then race against images of sprinter Cathy Freeman that light up along the wall next to you. Your time is posted above the track.

cathy freeman sportsworks at scienceworks

As with all fitness testing assessments, the test numbers on their own are not meaningful – the analysis and interpretation of the results are more important. After all the tests are completed, you can enter your sporting interests and key results, and a personalised report is printed for you with a summary of your results including a list of sports that you may be best suited to.

So overall it was a bit of fun, motivating for some people, and definitely a great introduction to sports science.


The World’s Fittest Sport is Ironman Triathlon

July 17th, 2015 · No Comments · Fitness, Fitness Testing, Sport

Here at Topend Sports we have been through a long process to determine the World’s Fittest Sport. We used a head-to-head competition format to compare sports (similar to the ESPN World’s Greatest Athlete competition which compared athletes). Starting from an initial list of 32 sports from around the world, each sport went head to head in an online vote, until only one sport was left. After many rounds of voting (it started two years ago), the most physically demanding sport was found to be ironman triathlon!

ironman triathlon - the fittest sport

In the final, ironman triathlon beat MMA, with swimming and water polo taking up the next two places. You can see all the results here. This was not scientific research – there was no actual measure of fitness, the results are just based on the opinion of this website’s visitors. There will be bias of course, as fans and participants of a particular sport will be more inclined to vote for their sport or a sport they are familiar with, and a geographical bias as the majority of this site’s visitors come from USA, England and Australia. Despite these limitations, it was an interesting exercise nonetheless.

Although there is no doubting the extreme physical demands of ironman triathlon, the results were still unexpected. In ironman triathlon, the extreme physical demands are almost exclusively aerobic. I personally put boxing at the top of the list for its all-round fitness requirements. Previous votes and analyses have found the most demanding sports to be boxing, squash and gymnastics, and actual testing has found alpine skiing to be the fittest. So there is no consensus.

Is ironman triathlon really the world’s most physically demanding sport? To reinforce the results, we have listed all 32 of the sports in a single poll, where you can again cast your vote for “Which Sport Is The Most Physically Demanding?

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New Tests at the NHL Combine

June 12th, 2015 · No Comments · Fitness Testing, Winter

The NHL (USA National (Ice)Hockey League) annual pre-draft combine was held last week with a new format and a couple of new tests. This combine does not compare to the hype and media circus of the NFL Combine, but the NHL realise that it needed to get with the times. For a start it moved the testing to an arena offering an increased viewing area with live result monitors, which means better media coverage and publicity for them. They know that watching potential champion athletes huffing and puffing through the tests provides a pretty good spectacle.

They were not just thinking about promotion, player welfare was also on their minds. The players do not make it to the testing stage until they have passed a thorough medical conducted behind closed doors. The two exhausting fitness tests, the 30 second all out Wingate anerobic test and the VO2max cycle test have been moved to separate days this year, so that fatigue from one does not affect the results of the other.

A new test this year was the Y-balance test for assessing flexibility, core control and proprioception. They have used a few different tests of this component over the years, recently a balance board. Though it has been scientifically studied, the Y balance test is pretty new and without established norms, and with no previous results it will be interesting to see what they take from it. It might take a few years before they get a feel for what’s good and bad in this test, and how the scores relate to performance and injury rates in the recruited players.

Y Balance Test

Conner McDavid doing the Y-Balance test at the 2015 NHL Combine.

You can see the  video of Conner McDavid as he goes through each of the fitness tests, including the new Y-balance test.

In the vertical jump, instead of measuring jump height using the Vertec apparatus as they have used previously (and as used for most other combines), they have decided to go high-tech and measure jump height with a Kistler Force plate, also allowing measurement of ground reaction forces (will anyone ever look at these?). Again by changing protocols the scores from previous years may not be comparable. The best vertical jump score this year was 28.74 inches, well below the best last year of 35 inches, and one of the lowest best score ever.

Another change in equipment was to use the BodPod for body composition assessment. Again they have the issue of not being able to compare to previous results, which was based on skinfold testing and % body fat calculation using the Yuhasz equation. You would expect more accurate measures with the whole-body air-displacement plethysmography method of the BodPod, however this year’s lowest percent body fat score was an unrealistic 4%, well below the previous lowest score of 6%.

Although the test protocols using the Y-balance, force plate and BodPod are scientifically valid and reliable, and may result in the collection of good data, I just feel like they have gone with the latest gadgets without a longer term view of results that they can understand, interpret and make good use of.

Does it matter anyway? Most pundits are saying that the fitness test results are not that important in ice hockey – the medical assessment and team interviews from the combine are more important. Of yeah, another thing that may be important for potential NHL players – how they perform on the ice. Is there a test for that?

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Now Selling

September 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Now Selling · Fitness Testing

I have made a big change in my business model for this website and have started selling products directly from this site. For years I have made a few bucks selling fitness and sports-related products on a commission basis and with advertising placed around the site, but now I am actually importing products and selling online. It is more work for me but hopefully will prove to be much more lucrative.

You can check out what I’m selling first, the Slim Guide Caliper, and stay tuned for more.

UPDATE: sorry, the store is temporarily closed.


Make Your Own Beep Test

May 14th, 2009 · Comments Off on Make Your Own Beep Test · Fitness Testing, Technology

In the past you had the option of just playing the beep test on your cd player or mp3 player. There is now a computer software program which enables you to run the test right on your PC or Laptop, with a visual display, and record results directly onto your computer in real time. The Beep Test application provides real-time on-screen display of stage numbers, distance covered and VO2max. There are many additional useful features for a team — player buttons provide one click recording of results and team/season fitness results charts — making the fitness test easy to organize and carry out.

But that is not all – as well as running the standard Beep Test, the software allows the user to design their own test using a few simple commands in a script file. This can be useful for creating intermittent recovery type fitness tests (such as the yo-yo test) or combining an activity with fitness testing or conditioning. With the simple commands of Start, Run, Rest and Repeat, all types of beep type tests can be replicated. For added flexibility the lap distance and running speeds can also be adjusted for different sports and has even been adapted for swimming.

For more info see this page about the Team Beep Test Software.

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