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Fitness Corner: Testing & Evaluating


Assistant strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle joined the 49ers this off-season from the Philadelphia Eagles. He is in charge of directing all of the speed, agility, and conditioning programs for all positions on the team. He has spent the last 13 years pushing athletes to perform to their maximum potential. Carlisle has also developed workout videos which can be viewed, by visiting

Most coaches agree that testing and evaluating an athlete prior to and after participating in an off-season/pre-season strength and conditioning program provides the following information:
- A baseline or starting point for goal setting. This is important so an athlete/coach can set realistic and measurable physical development goals for each testing category.
- Measures the ongoing effectiveness of an overall training program which allows a coach/athlete to identify future training needs and modifications.
- Allows a coach/ athlete to identify physical strengths and weaknesses.

Given the vast range of sport and individual needs, the actual test selected for an evaluation can vary greatly. In order to develop an effective testing and evaluation three questions must be asked:

What physical skills are necessary to perform well in your sport?
What tests measure these skills?
What do the results of the test mean?

The physical skills that help an athlete perform at his/her peak in most ground sports (i.e. football, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, etc.,) are speed, change of direction, acceleration/deceleration, explosive power, jumping ability, and speed endurance, among other things. Below are five tests that are good to use when measuring the skills of an athlete who plays a ground-based sport. This collection of tests is just one example of an effective evaluation for ground sports. There are many other tests that could have been selected.
Note: for purpose of validity, it is key to administer these tests in the same order for both the pre and post-test scores.

Test: Body Composition
Measures: Lean Body mass. The leaner an athlete is, the more efficient he/she will be when moving.
Procedures: This test may be administered using various devices: Skin-fold calipers, Hydrostatic weighing, bioelectrical impedance.

Test: Sit and Reach
Measures: Hamstring and Low back flexibility. The more flexible an athlete, the less risk of sustaining a hamstring and/or lower back injury.
Procedures: The athlete sits against a wall with hips pressed against the wall and legs placed together in front of body. The athlete places one hand on top of the other takes a deep breath and reaches as far as possible toward the toes.

Test: Seated Medicine Ball Throw
Measures: Upper Body Power
Procedures: Upper body power is tested using the two-handed seated medicine ball (3kg) throw. This test is conducted with the athlete seated on a gym floor to isolate the upper body. The medicine ball(3kg) is pushed from the mid-chest area using both arms. The athlete receives a score for the best of two efforts.

Test: Pro-Agility
Measures: Change of Direction. The quicker an athlete can start and stop, the greater the ability to accelerate and decelerate in a game situation.
Procedures: Agility is the ability to change direction quickly without loss of speed or control. Agility is tested using the Pro Agility Run. This run is completed by initially straddling a middle line, running 15 ft. to the right, touching a line with your right hand, running 30 ft. to the left and touching a line with your left hand and finishing 15 ft. to the right. This test is timed using a stop watch.

Test: Vertical Jump
Measures: Lower Body Explosive Power
Procedures: This test uses the stationary vertical jump. It is executed by jumping against a wall for maximum height with no gather step. This isolates the lower body and tests sheer vertical explosiveness.

Test: 10 yard dash
Measures: Acceleration/Speed
Procedures: The athlete places her/his foot at the starting line. When comfortable, she/he sprints through the finish line at maximum speed.

Featured Question for Coach Parker: I am a defensive back and a sprinter and am currently running cross country to maintain my fitness base. I am concerned that the lack of weight training and speed work will take its toll on my body, losing lean muscle mass and speed. Should I return to my regular routine {weights 4 days a week, plyos twice a week, and speed work 4 times a week, 300's 200's150's and 30 and 60 meter sprints later in the track season} - Brent
A: You are correct in believing that cross country training over a sustained period of time it will def. have a negative effect on speed, muscle strength and muscle size. You can do it for a short period of time and then progress to shorter and shorter distances in sprint workouts without a negative effect, but as soon as possible, I'd get back to football or sprint type workouts which are very closely related. In football, the only difference is including change of direction versus just straight ahead speed in your running routine.

To have your question considered, please email Parker at

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