Prepare like a pro blog physical performance

This was a question put to me in 2017, where we needed to develop a battery of tests, for our U18 NAB League squad (previously TAC Cup). We basically had one spot for our last test, where the beep test had always been used in the past.

The question put to me by the head coach: “We have normally tested their aerobic capacity via the beep test, we have one slot left for the last test, what do you want? The beep test, 2km TT or the Yo-Yo? – Get back to me tomorrow.”

My initial thoughts were to put them through the 2km TT. Why? – It’s an easy test to run, with next to no equipment needed, and easy to repeat in the same conditions, making it valid and reliable.

The other tests to be completed on the day were; anthropometrics, standing and running vertical jump, 20m sprint and the AFL agility test. All of which are used at the AFL National Combine for those who are invited and the league wide testing day. The final test completed at these events – the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test – Level 2.

We ended up going with the Yo-Yo IR2 for our club testing, for many reasons;

  • Replicates intermittent sport such as AFL. 2 x 20m running periods, followed by a brief rest period, is very similar to running patterns seen on-field during a match.
  • Tests athletes speed endurance, rather than aerobic capacity.
  • Gives athletes a better understanding of the test, enabling them to perform better under the pressure of ‘testing days’ in front of recruiters, coaches and AFL staff.

Although we decided to run the Yo-Yo test alongside the others previously mentioned, we also undertook the 2km TT on a separate occasion, to get the best of both worlds. This allowed us to get an understanding of our athlete’s speed endurance as well as their aerobic endurance. We have been doing this for the past 4-5 years now, and it has given us a great insight into the athlete’s physical capabilities.

A common question from athlete’s around this topic is usually, why are we doing each test and which ones do they do at AFL level. All clubs are completely different and may or may not run either test. There are several clubs who still run a 2km TT or something similar (2.2km, 3.0km etc.) and there are also clubs running the Yo-Yo test or their own variation of this. That being said, these are not the only two tests, clubs run, tests such as the 30-15 and timed interval running are also being used.

Matt Ross.

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