Inside the Numbers


So and so benched 350 pounds, ran a 4.8 Forty and can squat 450 pounds. I hear this all the time. What do those numbers mean? Obviously this individual is fairly strong or is he? He is not fast or is he? My point here is that just seeing a number on a test result is not very revealing of the underlying qualities that enabled the athlete to achieve those performances. On the lifts it could have been a very, very slow movement, but he still got the bar up. On the Forty he could have run a great ten yard and then completely fallen apart. If we are going to test and then spout numbers we need to get inside the numbers and really find out how the athlete achieved those numbers. We also need to that in order to be able to guide the athlete to further improvement. Don’t think of testing, think of evaluation. Think of it as an ongoing process. I conceptualize each evaluation with an athlete as an attempt to profile that athletes physical qualities. I want to then correlate the evaluation with performance. For example that is why looking at splits in a sprint test are so important. It can enable me to identify strengths and weakness by comparing the various zones. That is also why vertical jump tests need to be done with some sort of contact mat system. The standard jump and reach only gives an absolute number. There is no flight time or contact time, in short nothing that tells me how the athlete achieved the height. It is more work, but it enables you to really focus in on what needs to be done to make the athlete better.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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