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Performance Evaluation Tests

Performance is an assessment of how well a task is executed and the success of a training program is largely dependent upon satisfying the performance aims associated with it.

How can performance be monitored?

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made.

What is the evaluation process?

The whole measurement/evaluation process is a six stage, cyclic affair, involving:

  • The selection of characteristics to be measured
  • The selection of a suitable method of measuring
  • The collection of that data
  • The analysis of the collected data
  • The making of decisions
  • The implementation of those decisions

All of the above stages should be completed with the athlete - especially the analysis of the collected data and making decision of an appropriate way forward.

What are the requirements of a test?

In constructing tests it is important to make sure that they really measure the factors required to be tested, and are thus objective rather than subjective. In doing so all tests should therefore be specific (designed to assess an athlete's fitness for the activity in question), valid (the degree to which the test actually measures what it claims to measure), reliable (capable of consistent repetition) and objective (produce a consistent result irrespective of the tester).

In conducting tests the following points should be considered:

  • Each test should measure ONE factor only
  • The test should not require any technical competence on the part of the athlete (unless it is being used to assess technique)
  • Care should be taken to make sure that the athlete understands exactly what is required of him/her, what is being measured and why
  • The test procedure should be strictly standardised in terms of administration, organisation and environmental conditions

What are the benefits of testing?

The results from tests can be used to:

  • predict future performance
  • indicate weaknesses
  • measure improvement
  • enable the coach to assess the success of his training program
  • place the athlete in appropriate training group
  • motivate the athlete

Tests additionally break up and add variety to the training program. They can be used to satisfy the athlete's competitive urge out of season. Maximal tests demand maximum effort of the athlete so they are useful at times as a training unit in their own right.

What factors may influence test results?

The following factors may have an impact on the results of a test (test reliability):

  • The ambient temperature, noise level and humidity
  • The amount of sleep the athlete had prior to testing
  • The athlete's emotional state
  • Medication the athlete may be taking
  • The time of day
  • The athlete's caffeine intake
  • The time since the athlete's last meal
  • The test environment - surface (track, grass, road, gym)
  • The athlete's prior test knowledge/experience
  • Accuracy of measurements (times, distances etc.)
  • Is the athlete actually applying maximum effort in maximal tests
  • Inappropriate warm up
  • People present
  • The personality, knowledge and skill of the tester
  • Athlete's clothing/shoes
  • Surface on which the test is conducted
  • Environmental conditions - wind, rain, etc

Why record information?

For the coach and athlete it is important to monitor the program of work, to maintain progression in terms of the volume of work and its intensity. Both coach and athlete must keep their own training records. A training diary can give an enormous amount of information about what has happened in the past and how training has gone in the past. When planning future training cycles, information of this kind is invaluable.

What should be recorded?

The information to be recorded falls into two broad categories: -

  • The day-to-day information from training
    • State of the athlete (health, composure)
    • Physiological data (body weight, resting heart rate, etc.)
    • The training unit (speed, speed endurance, strength, technique)
    • The training load (the number of miles, the number of sets and repetitions, the number of attempts)
    • The training intensity (kilograms, percentage of maximum, percentage of VO2)
    • The prevailing conditions (wet, windy, hot etc.)
    • The response to training (the assignments completed, the resultant heart rate recovery, felt tired, etc.)
  • Information that measures status. This can take the form of a test. If the test is repeated throughout the program, it can then be used as a measure of progress within the training discipline. Examples of such tests are:
    • Time trials - speed, speed endurance, endurance
    • Muscular endurance - chins, push ups, dips
    • Strength maximum - single repetitions, maximum repetitions
    • Explosive strength - power bounding, vertical jump, overhead shot putt
    • Mobility - objective measurements of the range of movement
    • Event specific

Competition evaluation

Following competition, it is important that the coach and athlete get together as soon as possible in order to evaluate the athlete's performance. Elements to be considered are pre race preparations, focus and performance plans and achievement of these plans. An evaluation form is useful to help the athlete and coach conduct this review.

How can we make tests more reliable and valid?

  • Use competent and well trained testers
  • Equipment should be standardised and calibrated regularly
  • Each test should measure only one factor
  • Care should be taken to make sure the athlete understands exactly what is required of them
  • The test procedure should be standardised in terms of administration, organisation and environmental conditions
  • The test should be designed so that it can easily be repeated by another trained tester
  • The test should be fully documented so that it can be administered in exactly the same way the next time it is conducted

Maximal Tests

Maximal means the athlete works at maximum effort or tested to exhaustion. Examples of maximal anaerobic tests are the 30 metre acceleration test and the Wingate ANaerobic 30 cycle test. Examples of maximal aerobic tests are the Multistage Fitness Test or Bleep test and the Cooper VO2 max test

Disadvantages of maximal tests are:

  • difficulty in ensuring the subject is exerting maximum effort
  • possible dangers of over exertion and injury
  • dependent on the athlete's level of arousal

Submaximal Tests

Submaximal means the athlete works below maximum effort. In sub maximal tests, extrapolation is used to estimate maximum capacity. Examples of submaximal aerobic test are the PWC-170 test and the Queens College Step Test.

Disadvantages of submaximal tests are:

  • depend on extrapolation being made to unknown maximum
  • small measurement inaccuracies can result in large discrepancies as a result of the extrapolation

Normative data

Where normative data (average test results) is available, it is included on the appropriate evaluation test pages which are identified below.

Sport Performance Tests

The Sport Specific Performance Tests page provides guidance on possible tests to evaluate the athlete's fitness components for a variety of sports.

Evaluation Test Groups

The performance evaluation tests are grouped as follows:

Evaluation Tests

Aerobic Endurance - VO2 max

Anaerobic Endurance


All these agility tests are suitable for sports with multidirectional movement


Body Composition


Event Time Predictors

Fitness General



Reaction Time

Strength - Core

Strength - Elastic

Strength - General

Speed and Power

Talent Evaluation

Tests for young athletes

The following test can be used with young athletes

  • Athletics 365 - aimed at 8-15 year olds, but can be adapted for younger athletes

Free Calculators

  • To support many of the above evaluation tests the Sports Coach Excel calculator page contains a number of free Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that you can download and use on your computer.

Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • NOAKES, T. D. (1988) Implications of exercise testing for prediction of athletic performance: a contemporary perspective. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 20 (4), p. 319-330
  • HOPKINS, W. G. (2004) How to interpret changes in an athletic performance test. Sportscience, 8, p. 1-7
  • HOFFMAN, J. R. et al. (1996) Relationship between athletic performance tests and playing time in elite college basketball players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 10 (2), p. 67-71

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1997) Performance Evaluation Tests [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: