The physical demands of American football are great and varied, and only the exceptional athletes reach the pinnacle of the sport. To excel in football you need to be big, strong and powerful, and also be fast and agile. There are also positional differences in the physical demands - a quarterback requires different abilities to a linebacker or kicker.
A fitness test protocol for football should at least assess the physical attributes of speed, strength, power and agility. Below is listed some tests that would be suitable for assessing football players. See also the well established testing protocols for football as used for the annual NFL scouting combine, and the Football SPARQ protocol used to assess the potential of young athletes.
Fitness Test List for Football
Here are some suggested fitness tests for football players. It is indicated if they are already part of the assessments for the SPARQ and NFL Combine.
- SPEED — running speed can be assessed with a 40-yard dash test, which measures acceleration and is a reliable indicator of speed, agility and quickness. Split times can be done at 10 and 20 yards to provide additional data on acceleration. This test is used in both the SPARQ and combine protocols.
- AGILTY — a agility test designed for football is the 5-10-5 Agility (also called the 20 yard or pro-agility shuttle), a lateral movement test that measures the agility of the athlete, especially body control and 180 degree change of direction. This test is used in both the SPARQ and combine protocols. Another test of agility at the NFL Combine is the L-drill (3-cone drill), measuring agility with 90 degree turns.
- UPPER BODY POWER — The Bench Press test as used in the combine measures the upper body strength and muscle endurance, requiring the athlete to press 225 lbs as many times as possible. Another test of upper body strength, which also assesses the more important measure of upper body power, is the Power Ball Toss, used in the SPARQ assessment.
- LOWER BODY POWER — a measure of leg power and explosiveness is the Vertical Jump, in which the athlete jumps for maximum height. This test is used in both the SPARQ and combine protocols. There is also another very similar test of leg power in the combine, the Broad Jump (also known as the standing long jump).
- REACTION — quick reactions and good decision making is a hallmark of a great football player. Although important, these attributes are not easily tested.
To interpret the results of fitness testing, you need an understanding of the relative importance of these physical attributes for the sport. In football, the importance of each fitness component vary with playing position - see Fitness Testing Norms for a discussion on this and some results to aim for. See also the results from the NFL Combine.
- Fitness for Football
- About the NFL Combine
- Fitness Testing for NFL Officials
- Football SPARQ Fitness Rating System.
- Some Fitness Testing Norms for football.
- Longest throwers in football
- Poll about the fitness components for football
- Fitness Testing for sports.