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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 depends on satisfying the performance aims.

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, primarily by analysing the collected data and deciding an appropriate way forward.

What are the requirements of a test?

In constructing tests, it is vital to ensure that they 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 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 athletes part (unless it is used to assess technique).
  • Care should be taken to ensure that the athlete understands precisely what is required of them, what is being measured and why.
  • The test procedure should be strictly standardised in 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 an 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 the athlete's maximum effort, so they are sometimes useful 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 before testing
  • The athlete's emotional state
  • The 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
  • The accuracy of measurements (times, distances etc.)
  • Is the athlete applying maximum effort in maximal tests?
  • Inappropriate warm-up
  • People present
  • The personality, knowledge and skill of the tester
  • Athlete's clothing/shoes
  • The surface on which the test is conducted
  • Environmental conditions - wind, rain, etc

Why record information?

The coach and athlete need to monitor the work program to maintain progression in terms of the volume of work and its intensity. Both coach and athlete must keep their training records. A training diary can give enormous information about what has happened and how training has gone in the past. When planning future training cycles, knowledge 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, the 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, feeling 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 to measure 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 a competition, the coach and athlete must get together as soon as possible to evaluate the athlete's performance. Elements to be considered are pre-race preparations, focus and performance plans, and these plans' achievements. 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
  • Ensure the athlete understands what is required of them
  • The test procedure should be standardised regarding administration, organisation and environmental conditions
  • The test should be designed so that another trained tester can easily repeat it
  • The test should be fully documented so that it can be administered in the same way the next time it is conducted.

Maximal Tests

Maximal means the athlete works at maximum effort or is 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 overexertion and injury
  • dependent on the athlete's level of arousal

Submaximal Tests

Submaximal means the athlete works below maximum effort. In submaximal tests, extrapolation is used to estimate maximum capacity. Examples of the 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 an 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 in the appropriate evaluation test pages identified below.

Sport Performance Tests

The Sports Specific Performance Tests page guides possible tests to evaluate athletes' fitness components for various 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 many free Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that you can download and use on your computer.

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