Athlete Assessment

A question for the coaches here:

When you first start working with an athlete and take him/her through an assessment, what main things do you look for before you can begin writing a training program? (lets say for example if the sport is football)

Obviously you want to individualise the training to the person as much as possible and things are learnt over the course of time, but what are the main things you can learn about an athlete through simple assessments?

Is it even necessary to put the athlete through many tests as some people often do? (eg. max squat, vertical jump, speed tests, beep test, phosphate decrement test, etc) Or can you learn as much about the athlete by watching him/her sprint and play the sport?

I’m no expert (yet :slight_smile: ), but here’s my 2 cents.

I just recently took on a beach volleyball player,

-first thing I find out are lifestyle patterns, like eating, stress levels at work (and/or school if applicable). Sleeping patterns.

-then I take a look at the body’s posture. Nothing fancy, excessive forward head lean? Winged shoulder baldes? Pelvic tilt?

-Any past injuries? What was the previous work out?

Then I put something together, to the best of my ability.

I’d love to hear what the other coaches do.

And how’s my list? I’m sure there are things i can add. Also anything I can drop?

Here are some other points:

-lifestyle assessment
-past/current medical Hx
-family (both sides) medical Hx
-gas analyzer (if you have the accessiblity and resources)
-body fat %
-strength tests
-etc etc

strenght weakness’ or imbalances

In terms of finding their strengths/weaknesses, what tests can you do?
If you just test the basic exercises (eg. squat, bench, chin-ups, v-jump, etc) you don’t get enough information about the mechanical weaknesses of the athlete (unless you’re experienced enough to be able to see the weakness through the athlete’s sprinting/squatting technique for example).

What tests would you perform without doing too much and causing paralysis by analysis?

Thanks for your thoughts (medication was one I had missed earlier).

i agree with you david, in terms of doing the test. i don’t think its a good idea to get caught up on numbers. even testing something like a squat is not cut and dry.

that goes for % body fat. i don’t think there’s really an ideal number.

-etc etc!?

please expand :stuck_out_tongue:

I meant etc etc, b/c depending on the type of sport or event, the testing will differ, although majority of it will be the same sort of testing; similar to that of general health related fitness testing vs. that of performace related fitness testing.

Just an idea for working with a football player find out what position he plays this will have a huge effect on your assesment and planning for a program. Obviously if he is a wr or a db then his program and assesment will differ from that of an o-line or d-lineman. Other than that past mediacl hsitory, diet, past traning expereince, and strength/speed testing are important.
For strength test squat, bench and cleans I would maybe sugest testing for a double or a triple just to help avoid the chance of possible injuries.This will tell you if the athlete is ballanced or not.
Other tests would include, vertical, 40yrd dash, agility test there are a few either T-test or pro agility. One other thing that could be interesting would be flexibility and some test of core strength.
Another thing to note find out as much info about where your athlete plays football this will play a big difference in their program. What I am getting at is different university programs and junior programs test different things so you would idealy want to prepare your athlete for what they are testing. For example ther si no point in testing the T-test for agility if they use the pro agility then you end up not preparing your athlete properly. Another example would be bench press many schools test 1 rm other test at 225 and to see how many reps you can do, check the grip used by your athlete some schools, are really sticky on width of grip .
just some ideas I have. Any way it would be interetsing to see how you are going to go about training your football player keep us posted!

I’m not actually training a football player, I was just using that particular sport as an example.

You bring up a good point about some of the combine tests though. If the athlete actually has to do these tests (225 bench test, 5-10-5 agility, etc) then you would have to evaluate him on these factors too. For other sports I would not test agility at all other than watching him play the game as agility is very game specific and I don’t think there is a test that allows you to see everything other than watching the player move on the field.

Testing the squat, bench and clean will tell if the athlete is balanced? How so, what must the ratios be? Like i said it’s never that cut and dry.

Also if you have a highschool player going to college those tests wont be as big a deal, they wont start or sit an athlete because he does a great T-test.

Going from college to the pros can be a different story, then it may move you up in the draft.

By balanced I mean that his bench should equal his clean and his squat should be one and a half times his bench/clean. Just roughly I tottaly agree with you in the sense that it is never that cut and dry ther are always other factors that play into it such as past injury and stuff like that. The numbers are never going to be exact it is just a good idea to see what the athlete has been doing or where they are in need of imporvment. It is pointless if he can bench 315 if he can only squat 225 I’m sure ther are other tests to see if the athlete has balance between his lifts.
Obviously no university or junior program will start/sit a player based on their testing scores. As well no high school player will start for a university either he just simply can not compete with other players who are older more developed and football savvy. BUT good testing scores will provide some insurance for the athlete if they have a horrible traning camp. If a coach sees that a player is not able to compete because lets say that they just can’t pick up the system or they are dropign to many balls. He can look to the testing scores and if the kid is a stud then they will say o.k. he might not be able to play football right now, but look he has all the physical atributes to be a star lets teach him how to play. It happens all the time and not just in football other team sports see the same thing. Obviously for the pros it si a different story a guy goes out and runs a 4.3 or 4.4 and scouts go nuts he jumps up in the draft or whatever.

In Chris’s Black book he gives some good general tests for assesment regarding strength and flexibility.

strenght tests can be noticed easily in the gym.single legged h/s curls can be a good guide to imbalances.also note the postion of the foot during the far as i know if the foot points inwards the weakness is the BF

My first post, so please be patient. I work with athletes in very different sports on a daily basis. Our assessment for athletes is specific to the sport and position. Initially a needs and goals analysis is done, and then we take them through their assessment. A standard assessment for a wide receiver or defensive back in football would be:

  1. A 10-yard dash
  2. A 40-yard dash
  3. A Flying 40-yard dash
  4. Pro Agility (5-10-5)
  5. T Drill
  6. Standing Broad Jump
  7. Standing Triple Jump
  8. Power Vertical Jump
  9. Isometric Vertical Jump
  10. Coverage/Route Running Drills
  11. 1-RM testing for specific lifts.

Our needs and goals analysis consists of postural analysis, gait analysis, body fat and circumference measurements (only to have a baseline to measure for improvement, we don’t compare our skinfolds to other trainers/coaches skinfold/body-fat testing, too much inaccuracy). We don’t like testing the 225 or 185-rep out scheme, with our stronger athletes it turns into a muscular endurance assessment. We test the two vertical jumps to measure for power deficit. ALL of our athletes sign a maximum effort & commitment agreement. We interchange some of the tests in and out depending on sport and position and past experience. We test olympic lifts, but only with athletes with 2-years previous lifting experience. We also start our O-Lifts at the knee (just to be safe).

Daniel Martinez
Athletes Training & Performance

Daniel, why do you also do the board jump test (on top of the vertical jump assessments)?

Do you do any endurance based tests for receivers/DBs?


The broad jump test and vertical jump test involve the same joint motion, but in a different recruitment pattern. The vertical jump load and horizontal jump load are very different. Similar to the difference in load on an incline leg press and a squat. At first glance they appear identical (both consisting of hip and knee extension), but as you take a closer look, the pelvic position and tilt (anterior tilt in the squat, posterior tilt in the leg press) is different. Joint position and alignment with resistance dictates recruitment. As far as endurance testing, that depends on your definition of endurance. We do test (albeit with less frequency) a jump squat for speed and repetition (testing power/speed-endurance and anaerobic threshold). Our interval testing for speed-endurance typically changes with the training phase (work:rest ratios ranging from 1:1/, 1:3-5, 1:6-10). We as a rule, do not test for aerobic capacity, but we do train to increase it to improve recovery and remove lactic acid.