Do we really have to test again?

Right now we are testing over 1200 young players in an 8 year study on the natural rate of development. The current test (the fall post season) has given us a few things to think about as we begin to compare the results to our pre-test, 3 months ago. But in the grand scheme of things we can’t really make any assumptions…

At the beginning of a session last night, several of the players told me that they had already tested (3 months ago) and they didn’t know why it “was necessary to do it again.” To put it very simply, one test doesn’t tell us much. One test is like a photograph, you can see where the picture was taken, but it might be hard to see what is actually happening. Moving cars can appear to be parked, jumping kids may look to be standing on the ground or flying through the air, etc. After two tests, your photograph starts to turn into a short 20 second video clip. Where you can see the direction things are headed, but you still have to make assumptions about how the individuals will be affected by the activity.

To get the full picture from an athletic perspective, we need at least 5 tests (fall, winter, spring, summer, fall). This will take our photograph/video clip analogy and turn it into a 30 min TV episode. Now we see the plot, get some background information and we can start to understand the character’s (or player’s) struggles, challenges and strengths.

  1. A single test tells us where we are… Not where we have been and not where we are going
  2. After 2 tests we can get a sense of where we are going
  3. After 3 tests we can track consistency and notice developmental trends
  4. After 4 tests we will notice seasonal changes in performance
  5. After 5 tests we will finally be able to see your yearly development

The graph above contains real data showing two high school female soccer players who tested with us over the course of the year. If we just look at the first test (May) you might think that these two players were similar and evenly skilled. But Player 1 trained hard over the summer and Player 2 did not. They both trained hard over the fall season, where Player 2 closed the gap. Player 2 continued to train over the winter and improved her speed and fitness, but due to the lack of practice and games, had decreases in skill. Player 1 participated in basketball over the winter. Then both players went into high school season and stopped all additional training due to the heavy game / practice schedule.

As you can see… We finally are able to get a much clearer picture of what is really happening during each season. Imagine if we only tested in May, what would we really know? How different would these players be viewed if we only tested in November and March?

Our testing system has been streamlined over the years and now only contains 6 tests (Fitness, Dribbling, Passing, Moves/Turns, Agility, Speed). We can test 60-80 players in 45 minutes, which can be done during the first half of a technical / fitness based practice. So if a coach is willing to give up 3 hours of practice time per year, he will be able to monitor his players development very closely. To learn more about this system as it is used for soccer players, or to enter your scores and get your results, click HERE.

Comments

2 Comments
  1. Thanks Scott for the information, examples and insight. I sometimes think of the individual tests as snapshots, over time they become pictures on a page and then the pages become an album and reveal a bigger story. Great point, ” How different would these players be viewed if we only tested in November and March.” LTAD is a much bigger process of unfolding a players potential over time. Really appreciate your research and your generosity sharing what you’re learning. One of our teams and coaches is coming down there for a tournament in a week or so. I’m encouraging them to try to stop by and see your facility.

  2. Let the coach know that we are in the fieldhouse, right off of field 1 at the OP Soccer Complex. We would love to have him/her stop in.

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