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Physiological Assessments: Sports-skills Assessments

Physiological Assessments: Sports-skills Assessments | Jessie Newell | Exam Preparation Blog | 5/9/2014

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Assessments performed at the start of a client’s program can be used to track progress and increase motivation. These assessments are divided into four categories: anthropometric measurements (body size or body composition), cardiovascular assessments, muscular fitness assessments, and sport-skills assessments. This is the last blog of an assessment series and will focus on sports-skills assessments. Unlike the other physiological assessments, which may have their place in a general fitness seeker’s exercise program, sports-skills assessments are reserved for those who are concerned with enhancing performance, such as those needed to pursue a sport [phase 4 of the ACE Integrated Fitness TrainingTM (ACE IFTTM) Model]. As such, the normative data (i.e., the data that consists of the scores against which we compare our clients’ scores) is gathered largely from high-performance collegiate athletes. Thus, little-to-no data can be found for the “average Joe” client.

These assessments can be divided into two categories: (1) power and (2) speed, agility, and quickness. They focus on things that are necessary in sports like balance, power (anaerobic power and capacity), speed, agility, reactivity, and coordination. When deciding which of these assessments to perform, first analyze the client’s sport and/or performance goals and see which assessments best mimic the actions he or she typically performs. These types of assessments can help identify where athletic clients are doing well and where they might need to improve to perform at their highest capacity during a game or competition.

Power tests evaluate anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity. You can think of anaerobic capacity as the ability to perform for a relatively long period of time at an anaerobic intensity (anaerobic endurance). Therefore, assessments such as the 300-yard shuttle run or Margaria-Kalamen stair climb test, take somewhat longer to conduct than the anaerobic power tests. You can think of anaerobic power, as the ability to quickly produce high force with a single effort. These are the “one and done” assessments—one throw, one jump, etc.—and may include the standing long jump, vertical jump, and kneeling overhead toss.

With speed, quickness, and agility tests, you can gather useful data for sports where acceleration, reactivity, and the ability to change direction are keys to success (e.g., football and soccer). These assessments include the pro-agility test, T-test and 40-yard dash. Coaches can often use all these sports-skills assessments to determine potential success in game situations.

Key Topics to Remember:

  • For each of these assessments, be familiar with the objective of the assessment, for whom it is appropriate (contraindications), and any advantages or disadvantages.
  • You also want to know how to interpret the results and explain them to your client.