Yesterday I was sent a link to Complete Track and Field to Marc Mangiacotti’s testing article. Much of what he said had merit and some of the testing items for sprinters were used by nearly all coaches. Months ago, I wrote an article series called measure what matters and I didn’t include lifting and jump/throw tests in the series for a reason. I was not saying that the non-sprinting tests didn’t matter, but good record keeping makes all training testing with context. Today, I think coaches need clarity, as simple is never simple. While the saying keep it simple stupid may be popular, clarity is what we need. Testing to me is isolating variables, often a very necessary part to sample the development of an athlete. I don’t do test decathlons anymore as the methods to develop the athlete seem to be very clear and are repeated weekly. So why test at all if all training is testing?
I think formal testing when rested changes everything when it’s measured with good tools and procedures. Measuring is accountability and doing so as a group creates a special dynamic. Often injury is feared with those that don’t like testing, so the real testing time comes in the games or meets, leading to a sense of gamblers fallacy. I like some of the tests used by Marc, but how many coaches look at the relationship between the UHT and use dartfish to get coordination scores? The sequence of doing the 30m fly on day 2 when the athlete is under fatigue is also a bit odd. Perhaps the reason is that the work on day one creates a governor effect on the body to prevent pulling, but who knows. Either way it’s a very good set of tests that create a very nice profile to what an athlete should be tested on. I like squat jumps with a vest when equipment is available as well as stiffness tests with an IR system instead of standing broad jumps. Still, nothing beats the classic 30m acceleration, 30 fly, 150m, and 300m run to get an idea of what an athlete is capable of.