Combine Fitness Testing Comparison
Each year fitness testing is conducted as part of the annual draft process for many elite team sports. We have details of the combine or draft testing process for the following leagues:
- National Hockey League (NHL)
- National Football League (NFL)
- National Basketball Association (NBA)
- Australian Football League (AFL)
- Major League Soccer (MLS)
- National Rugby Football League (NRFL)
- Cricket (USA Cricket)
- Major League Baseball (MLB)
Below we compare some of the tests that are conducted for each of these sports. Although all are team sports, there are differences in the physical demands required to play each of these sports, which is reflected in the fitness tests that are conducted. Only a few specific differences are discussed here.
Strength and Power
A max bench press test is used in NFL, NBA and NHL testing, though the weight lifted in each test differs. The age and strength level of the draft camp attendees are a factor here, as the lifted weight is selected in order to achieve a range of scores – there would be no point having too high a weight so that no one can lift it, and vice versa too light a weight and all participants can do many repetitions and it becomes a test of strength endurance. All four sports utilize the vertical jump test for measuring explosive leg power. In addition, the AFL uses a sport specific running vertical jump, and basketball uses a one step jump.
Agility is very specific to each sport, and so the tests of agility that are used are also tailored to the sport. The NHL uses a few tests, including the hexagon test, the NBA uses a lane agility drill, AFL uses a test that was developed for the camp, which is a complex and specific agility test around obstacles, and the NFL uses the 3-cone drill.
The importance of endurance varies in each of these sports. In fact, there is no test of aerobic fitness in the NFL and NBA testing. The AFL utilizes two tests of aerobic endurance at their draft camp, the shuttle run (beep) test and the 2km run, while the NHL uses the more accurate VO2max Test conducted on a stationary bicycle.
Speed is an important component of fitness for all these sports. The AFL measure sprint time over 20 meters with split times for the first 5 and 10 meters. The NFL run their sprint test over 40 yards (36.6 meters). The NBA sprint over the distance of three-quarters of the basketball court. The NHL does not have a running speed test at all, which makes sense considering that their players do not have to run at all. They use the Wingate 30 second bike test to measure anaerobic power.
- A video of fitness testing at the AFL draft camp
- SPARQ testing
- UA Combine — a fitness testing competition involving eight tests.
- Sport Specific Fitness Testing
- Complete List of Fitness Tests
- International Combine Testing Calendar