I think it’s ok to do conditioning tests to gage fitness. Testing and Monitoring are similar, but after reviewing the notes I have with some workshops the monitoring hype needs to calm down. First, watching heart rate and GPS data on small-sided games is not coaching or sport science, just pretending to be busy when the general issues such as doing the basics or trying to get get better is not attempted. Much more exciting to show reports with sexy dashboards than show attendance in the weight room or nutrition habits outside the facility. I know people will debate Yo-Yo tests and 30-15 IFT, but do something basic and get a baseline. One counter argument is that it’s not the game or other excuses to create fuzzy reality, but the game is chaos and we need some clarity. I hate the rhetoric with specific and game simulation. If that were the case, most keepers in soccer would get 10 touches a practice, a slow way to get that mythical 10,000 hours. Like the people that use olympic lifting is a sport excuse because they can’t coach the lift or they have athletes that are not interested in training, what if I told a football coach in the NFL that we didn’t sprint because we are not training for the olympics in track? Rugby athletes too light? We are not training bodybuilders! Tennis athletes too tight? We are not training for yoga class. We can go over and over again with this.
Testing removes much of the interpretive variables by creating a simple benchmark. Sure motivation and recovery status is real, but it’s always a factor during games so what is new? I hate the fact that athletes will raise their game come show time. True, when the game is on the line you will see a better effort, but you must get break some eggs during the week if you want a cake over the weekend. Here are some random interesting factors to consider.
Power Testing and Speed Testing- Without 30m acceleration and Jump tests, conditioning is a little foggy with how an athlete is producing the test. Remember that the heart and lungs fuel the legs, and the legs are powered by strength training. Out of shape legs will render conditioning on the bike impaired, so more power is part of the context of things. The crutch of having guys with speed and power with poor aerobic testing is a cop-out. Even the most explosive sprinters have good fitness and can jog sub 5 minute miles with just recovery runs. Going 75 second laps if you can run a 46 is not impossible.
Blood Analysis- One needs to look at aerobic power stemming from iron status and other factors contributing to oxygen transport. I think many athletes suffer through training and dig themselves into a hole because they are not healthy with vitamin and mineral status. Good screening can see factors contributing to conditioning performances and we need to do this to ensuring we are weeding out the wrong red flags.
HRV and CNS testing- A talk about HRV reserves and slopes was a hot topic recently, and HRV can potentially help see training load over phases. CNS testing may be parallel to HRV, but some times an athlete is ready aerobically but their legs are flat. I will be testing this more this summer.
I think testing conditioning needs to be simple and clear, and training methods need to support the changes in the test. I am interested in seeing what Ronaldo’s fitness is as he is extremely quick and it would be interesting to see how he is doing it without compromising his speed.